Offbeat Video

By Neil Athey


The iconic crystal chandeliers that hang above the world-famous Blackpool Tower Ballroom have undergone their annual spring clean.

A seven-strong team of experts carefully lowered the two huge half-tonne chandeliers and 16 smaller wall fittings before the meticulous four-day inspection and clean-up takes place.

Around 2,000 crystals on the fittings are individually checked and gently polished until they sparkle.

More than 1,000 lightbulbs which light up the Strictly Come Dancing stage when the show makes its annual pilgrimage north are also checked to ensure they’re in perfect working order.

Blackpool Tower Ballroom operations manager Danny Hickes said he revelled in the responsibility of being part of the cleaning team – despite the heart-stopping moment the chandeliers are lowered.

Danny said: “There’s a bit of an Only Fool and Horses moment when the chandeliers are slowly lowered to the floor and you think the worst, that’s the scariest bit.

“But once they’re down you can get to work, it’s a great feeling to take each part off one by one and clean them.

“It’s very satisfying, especially when you know the history behind them.

“The building was originally opened in 1894 and the chandeliers are the same age, bar the odd little replacement.

“There are a lot of man hours put into cleaning them – it takes more than four days for the work to be completed.

“We only have two people actually cleaning the chandeliers, but we have five people to winch them back up into place.

“It’s really important to make sure the people who are cleaning them are concentrating on the work.

Once the crack team of cleaners have polished and preened the chandeliers their attention turns to the wooden floors.

The ballroom floor, which measures 120 feet by 102 feet, is made of 30,062 separate blocks of mahogany, oak and walnut and is treated to three separate sanding sessions and two coats of varnish.

Dennis Wall, 82, one of the original sign writers who applied the gold leaf to the ballroom following a devastating fire in 1956, said the hall was incomparable to any other in the UK.

Dennis said: “Cleaning the chandeliers is a very difficult job, they come down from a very great height.

“They look absolutely magnificent, it’s great to see them up close and to see the work that takes place.”

Danny, who has worked at the hall for six years, said it was very gratifying to see the ballroom sparkle.

Danny said: “It’s such a great feeling to get the job finished and see the smiles on all the regulars’ faces.

“The dancers come in and you see the happiness on their faces, it’s very satisfying.

“Once everything is completed the room looks incredible.”