Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


Blackpool Tower Foundation Stone Ceremony, 1891.

The foundation stone of Blackpool Tower was laid by Sir Matthew White Ridley M.P. for Blackpool, on 25th September, 1891. To commemorate the event, one gold medallion was struck and presented by the directors of the Blackpool Tower Company to Sir Matthew White Ridley.


Click on the images to enlarge.

One solid silver medallion (pictured) was presented to John Bickerstaffe; at the time he was both Mayor of Blackpool & Chairman of the Tower Company. For an obituary click here.


John Bickerstaffe; in 1891 he was Mayor of Blackpool & Chairman of the Tower Company.



The Lancaster Gazette, Wednesday, 30th September, 1891


Over fifty special trains were run from the principal centres in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midlands, and many thousands of excursionists were added to the large visiting population already there. The promenade and the principal streets were gaily decorated, and in every respect the festivities were nicely arranged and carried out.

The proceedings commenced at one o'clock, when the guests invited by the Tower Company were received by the Mayor of Blackpool who is chairman of the company, accompanied by the Mayoress, at the Imperial Hotel.

Laying the foundation stone of Blackpool Tower, 25th Sept, 1891. Click on the image to enlarge.

An hour later a procession was formed, in which over eighty landaus, containing the visitors, five bands, the local police, the life boat, the fire brigade, and the volunteers took part. The procession traversed the whole length of the promenade, the entire distance of over three miles being: densely crowded, and then returned to the site of the tower, which is in the centre of the town.

Lying midway between the two piers, the site is at present occupied by the Aquarium, menagerie, and a large hotel. it has been transferred to the Tower Company at a cost of £94,000.

The existing buildings upon it are to be removed during the coming winter, and the erection of new ones which are to surround the tower is to be commenced at once. The buildings are to be completed if possible by next season, but the tower, which will be 500ft. High, is not expected to be finished until the summer of 1893.

Caricature of Sir Matthew White Ridley 1842-1904. 
Click on the picture for more in

Charicature of Sir Matthew White Ridley 1842-1904.


Upon the arrival of the guests on the ground, the ceremony of laying the foundation stone was performed by Sir Matthew White Ridley, member of Parliament for the Blackpool Division.

A silver trowel, an ivory mallet, and a gold medal commemorative of the day having been presented to him, Sir Matthew expressed the hope that the building would result in public as well as private advantage.

True, it was not intended to be an educational or charitable institution, nor yet a Town Hall; still, legitimate pleasure and recreation were becoming more and more regarded as a desirable and even as a necessary addition to the monotonous lives of the toiling millions.

He therefore, regarded the foundation-stone-laying of what was to be a gigantic attraction to the town as a very fitting occasion for popular rejoicing and for public ceremonial.


Laying the foundation stone of Blackpool Tower, 25th Sept, 1891; detail from the previous photo. Sir Matthew White Ridley is on the left of the stone and John Bickerstaffe is to the right of him. Click on the image to enlarge. 

He hoped that Blackpool would long continue to be a town where crowds of busy workers from manufacturing districts could combine order and sobriety with exuberant enjoyment, and where they could take their pleasure without either licence or excess.

Later in the day, a banquet was held, at which about 140 guests were present, including Sir Matthew White Ridley M.P., and the mayors of the provincial boroughs already enumerated. A lengthy toast-list was honoured, and a number of congratulatory speeches delivered.

At night there was a grand firework display from both piers, and crowds assembled to witness this closing feature of the festivities. Despite the crowded state of the promenade during the day the whole of the proceedings passed off without any accident of a serious character.  



Early days in the construction of Blackpool Tower c1891.

Early days in the construction of Blackpool Tower c1891-2.