Thursday, 21 June 2018

Tower

Sorry folks - I have been remiss. I haven't managed to blog for a few weeks. Time has escaped me during the run up to our performance at The Grand Theatre on Monday night, which I am very pleased to say was a great evening for all concerned.

I couldn't miss this week's topic. I am sure most of you know that I was born in Blackpool, under the auspicious gaze of the Tower, but perhaps you are not aware of my own family connections to the structure. It is quite a story - get the tissues ready. 

My paternal grandmother Polly eloped from her father's home in Hyde, Cheshire and married an Irish engineer who came to Blackpool to work on building the Tower. They had two young sons, but not long after the Tower was completed, her husband was crushed to death under the lift. Apparently the engineers used a system of knocks on the metal work to tell each other where the lifts were working and on that fateful day no one heard his knocks. 

Back at the turn of the century, there was no compensation for accidental death in the workplace but the Bickerstaff family, who owned the Tower building, offered the widowed Polly a job for life, as a waitress.  It was while working there that she met my grandfather, Fred Robinson Snr. He played tenor sax with Jack Hylton's band then but after they married, he moved to Blackpool and they had four more children, one of them was my Dad, Fred Robinson Jnr. Fred Snr. played in the Tower Ballroom band for the rest of his working life.

My mother's mother Phyllis was an accomplished pianist and dance teacher. She and her partner demonstrated the Boston Tango at the Tower Ballroom when it was first introduced from America. 

In the 1950s, my sister Lesley was in The Children's Ballet at The Tower. When I was a toddler, Mum would take me to rehearsals every day.  It is very likely that I learned to walk on that wonderful floor; it is a known fact that I learned to dance on it. I knew all the routines that the older children performed and Lesley's ballet mistress, Elsie Bradley, wanted me in her troop as soon as I was old enough. Unfortunately that wasn't to be - we moved to St Helen's when I was just four.

In 1968, my father brought me to Blackpool during the British Junior Ballroom Championships for a try out with former World Champion and coach Eric Lashbrooke.  The following year, I took part in the Juvenile competition with my partner David. I danced there every year after that.

I still love to dance at The Tower. I go to functions there whenever I can. I love the ceilings and the Victorian d├ęcor but most of all the sprung floor. It is the best in the world. As for the Tower itself, I simply can't imagine life without it. It has been there all my life.



You’re The Top

A Victorian steel erection,
Five hundred and eighteen feet tall,
The pinnacle of progress,
And the grandest sight for all.

They came from the smoky mill towns
To walk barefoot in the sand,
To dip their toes in the Irish Sea,
With bucket and spade in hand.

The Tower was there to greet them,
With its soft sprung ballroom floor,
The Wurlitzer organ played,
And they all called out for more.

The circus was so exciting,
The clowns made a hullaballoo,
An aquarium in the basement,
There was always so much to do.

Now she lights up in rainbow colours,
To show the whole world that she’s proud,
The centenarian Blackpool bombshell,
Who always stands out from the crowd.

Thanks for reading. Adele

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2 comments:

Steve Rowland said...

I brought the family up to see the Tower in 1994 because Kodak (my employer) paid for it to be repainted gold for its centenary year :-)

A most interesting blog Adele and I liked your poetic tribute.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating Adele.