New Brighton Tower, Fair & Ballroom

 Fort Perch & Rock Light     Ferry

The Tower

The building of New Brighton Tower. note Floral Gardens with floral clock. Beach bathing huts on the sands. The Stadium. Pier and Ferry at the Pier and how Marine Parade stops right there

taken next to Vale Park


Demolition of the Tower 1921


In the window of the Information Centre in Victoria Road is this 1977 model of New Brighton Tower
superbly made by Ken Clarke

Tower Fire

The New Brighton Tower caught fire on Saturday 5 April 1969. The call was received at 05.08hrs. via the Police Headquarters. The manager of the Tower and his staff had left the building at about 8.30pm after a routine check (the stage area was not included). The roof of the Tower had been open to the public on the Friday for the first time that year with access by means of the Chair Lift which had been created in 1960 and operated from the ground to the roof. The New Brighton Coxswain had been awakened by the cracking and banging caused by the fire but after checking all was well in the street, he returned to bed. Police Constable Edward Brimage was on patrol in Victoria Road at the time and he smelt smoke and set about looking for the fire. He called for assistance and a search was made of Victoria Road and Tollemache Street and by the time that they reached Egerton Street, they discovered that the Tower was on fire in the stage area West tower of the building. It was then that the Fire Brigade was called. The first appliance to arive was driven by Dave Liston, followed by a second, driven by Walter Peach, the Station Officer. He went to look at the situation and he then climbed the steps to the car park at the higher ground. No sooner had he reached the top when a huge section of the building collapsed. Had he stayed down he would have been killed by the fall of bricks. It was believed that the seat of the fire was in the stage and the loft. The Brigade had a Pump, a Pump Escape and a Turn-Table Ladder at the scene as well as the general purpose van.
Large bellows of smoke was pouring out of the windows. The Officer in charge radioed: "Make pumps 10 and turntable ladders 2" and placed the van in the car park. The Officer went down the steps that led from the car park to the lower level, made a reconnaissance of the situation and returned to the car park. He heard a crumbling noise and turnd to see the whole of the external wall falling. He radioed another message: "Make turntable ladders 4."
The Assistant Division Officer now arrived and took command at 5.20pm with 20 pumps. The collapse of the wall exposed the Ballroom and theatre to the open air and allowing the flames to reach other parts of the building. Things were made worse by the fact that the Tower Boating Lake had been drained and the Fire Brigade had difficulty in obtaining water with Marine Lake by the Battery some distance away. Three relays were put into action. The machines had to pump up the water to the fire, hydrants also fed the Pumps to fight the flames and two Turn-Table ladders were brought into action but with the collapse of the wall it was difficult for the Firefighters. The Chief Fire Officer, Mr EE Buschenfeld, was now in command and through the lack of water it was obvious that the Ballroom would be a complete loss. Parts of the roof began to fall in. There were some compressed oxygen and dissolved acetylene cylinders in the offices of the fifth floor which were exposed but luckily no one was hurt with the two blasts. Firemen had managed to get into the building from the south but the staircases were impassable due to the debris from the collapsed roof. The Liverpool Fire Brigade were called in with their heavy water unit. Soon after seven o'clock there were 25 Pumps at the scene and further relays were deployed. Further sections of the roof fell in and relief crews were called in from Birkenhead, Liverpool, Cheshire County and Lancashire County with over 150 Firemen being at the scene with 20 pumps and four Turntable Ladders.

Vandalism was the cause
Mr Buschenfeld sent for five more Pumps and surveying the situation and the seriousness of the fire, thinking of his men, he shouted to them, "I don't want any heroes, let it burn." Lives of Firemen were more important than bricks and mortar. The promenade was one mass of Hoes-Pipes and by 9 O'clock fresh crews had to take over but within half hour the fire was under control with crews working on. It was the end of the Tower. In all 119 Firemen and 37 Officers had fought the fire. There were 25 Pumps, four Turntable Ladders, a fire using up to 313 gallons of petrol,71 gallons of diesel fuel and 36 pints of engine fuel. By Wednesday the heap of rubble inside had cooled down sufficiently for an examination to be made but was not possible on account of the condition of the remaining walls. Soon after the fire, demolition work started for fear of children who might try to play in the area with the fairground and grounds being closed off. What caused the fire is uncertain. The Deputy Fire Chief, Mr Alec Dean, said: "A thorough investigation of the cause of this fire was made by the fire department in consultation with the Home Office forensic department and the Cheshire County Police. After the elimination of the possible causes it seems that this fire was due to unauthorised entry to the building and subsequent vandalism or accident in the ignition of the stage area caused by vandals. There could have been no other cause. Electricity and gas had been cut off so these were eliminated and there was no other source. There was a lack of direct evidence to pinpoint vandals but it is the only source that was left ."
The Police had investigated the matter but nobody would come forward with direct evidence. The official verdict was 'Unknown'. By the Wednesday, the heap of rubble had cooled down sufficiently but on account of the dangerous condition of the ruined walls it was not possible to make a thorough examination of-the charred shell of the building. Some of the blackened red- ricks started to crumble and steps were taken to have it taken down as soon as possible. Mr Leon Davies, the managing director of the New Brighton Tower, was concerned that youngsters who could venture near the site could be injured or killed. Demolition later took place.