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Stories from the Tower

Click below to hear what Tom Kellett had to say.

Tom introduces himself.

My name is Tom Kellet and I’m the maintenance manager at Blackpool Tower. I’ve actually worked for the company for 33 years, so really I do know quite a bit about this place. I feel that I was part of the people that first set it up and put the last rivet in! But, you know... I just love it; it’s just part of me really.

What does the job involve?

Well, we have to do everything, all the maintenance in this building we look after. We do the painting, we do all the plumbing, all the aquarium, the fish tanks. You name it we do it. We look after this building as if it’s our own home. Unfortunately because its 112 years old you know it’s a very very hard task but as you can see it’s a beautiful building and we really really love this building. It’s part of our heritage in Blackpool.

A story from the days when the circus contained animals.

There was one time I remember. We used to have night security; we still have night security on here. But this night the night security was doing his rounds and he was going around and he came into the circus basement area and what should be sat there looking at him from the seating area but two lions! Then he thought well what can I do here so he rushed to use the phone at the staff entrance. And as he’s going up the stairs at the staff entrance there’s a leopard sat perched on top of the staircase. So he really had a hectic night but they came along and they put them back in the cages and it was not a problem. It was just one of those… How did they get out? They are very very clever, you know, animals. If they see how the cages are unlocked and they watch and they sit there for hours… and they’d just unbolted the bolt that was holding them, it was quite amazing really. That’s the only solution we could come to really.

Tom recalls the Tower centenary celebrations of 1994.

It was absolutely fantastic because we did that for the 100 years celebration and Her Majesty the Queen turned up… you know, we had her here, you know. And I was very fortunate because I actually met the Queen that day. Did you take her round the Tower? I took her up the top of the Tower, believe it or not you know, so it’s quite interesting. So she’s got a head for heights, then… She has, yes.

Tell us about the stunts performed at the Tower…

We’ve had abseiling from the top of the Tower for charities, we’ve had the Marines come in and do a death slide from the top of the Tower down to the promenade. We’ve has thing like that going on. There’s always somebody wanting to do something and it’s mostly for charity. We do it all for charities.

Tom explains how the circus fills up with water for the grand finale.

We’ve got 42,000 gallons of water under there and we’ve got a water hydraulic system, which means that in the centre we’ve got a really big centre ramp that works off water hydraulics so what happens is we go and switch on a pump on in the back room there, and we lift the ring, we have another set of hydraulic rounds that turn it, and then we just drop the ring into the pool of water.

Does the Tower have many overseas visitors?

We get people from all over the world coming. I was actually talking to somebody this year that had come over from Australia and they can remember it when they were over here in the war time and that’s the sort of thing the happens. They come from China. We have the junior dance festivals here. They come from every part of the globe.