Did you know that the Blackpool Tower was made in Newton Heath? That was one of our questions that we set when we appeared on BBC Radio Manchester’s Breakfast show earlier this week.
It’s true and one person phoned in with the correct answer.His mother used to work at the Company and he remembered that they had drawings of the tower in their offices.
The Company was Heenan and Froude and it once stood around the corner of the junction of Monsall Road and Oldham Road. Their story is typical of many businesses in that part of Manchester.
They began life as the Newton Heath Iron works in 1884; a partnership between Mr Hammersley Heenan, an engineer with the East India Railway and the Public Works Department and Richard Hurrell Froude, son of William Froude, English engineer, hydrodynamicist and naval architect who was famous for being the first man to formulate reliable laws for the resistance that water offers to ships and thus predicting their stability on the ocean.
The Company didn’t remain for long in Manchester, indeed within two years they opened a branch in Birmingham and would build the first Longbridge car factory. But their Newton Heath factory would continue to provide all the steel structure, including girders for bridges in Chile, the swing bridge over the Esk in Whitby and Folkestone Pier.
Their most famous exploit came in 1892 when there were appointed structural engineers to the Blackpool Tower, supplying and constructing both the main tower, the electric lighting and the steel front pieces for the aquariums.
Inspired by Eiffel’s creation in Paris two years earlier, the Blackpool Tower Co was formed to erect a similar structure on Blackpool’s seafront in 1891.It was designed by the Manchester architects Maxwell and Tuke.
At a height of 518 feet 9 inches to the top of the flagstaff, it opened on Whit Monday in 1894, at the time the tallest building in Britain, and the second tallest in the world. Some 70,000 people queued to go in on that opening day.
As for Heenan and Froude, by the end of the the First World War, they had been bought up by a Company in Worcester, the name continued but by the mid 1930’s they were no longer in Manchester.
You can find more stories like this on our accompanying Website and Book Around Manchester