Blackpool tower, Blackpool

Project: Blackpool Tower, Blackpool

The world-famous Blackpool Tower built in 1894 has been subjected to extreme coastal weather conditions for more than 100 years. As part of a £6 million, eight year refurbishment programme with four years left to complete, contractor MPM Northwest has been appointed to remove decades of paint, rust and debris from the 158 metre high, Grade I listed structure before repainting it. To prevent falling debris during this extensive renovation, MPM Northwest turned to leading provider of safety at height solutions Combisafe International.

With the new observation deck called Blackpool Tower Eye set to open in September 2011 in time for the autumn illuminations season, MPM Northwest commenced a structured restoration from the top of the tower to ensure the grand opening could go ahead as planned.  

Utilising specialist high-pressure cleaning equipment, compact and lightweight so it could be used alongside the company’s purpose-built scaffolding system, MPM Northwest needed an adaptable protective net system to ensure any paint, debris or dropped equipment would be contained when working at height. The chosen system also needed to be easy to install so that it could be efficiently moved as the refurbishment work progressed down the tower. To meet these requirements, Combisafe provided its Safety Net Fans.

Blackpool Tower is located in the town centre and so we needed a solution that would protect the public and properties below, be easily erected and moved and also be able to stand up to the rigours of a coastal environment,” said Dave Hulme, Project Manager for MPM Northwest. “The Combisafe Safety Net Fans proved ideal and they could also be easily transported to the work site via the tower lifts.”

“The Combisafe system has proved to be very easy to install and use,” continued. “The system has stood up well to being 400 feet high on Blackpool Tower with all the adverse weather it has had to contend with.”

With a projection of 3 metres from the tower, the Safety Net Fan offered exceptional levels of protection – ideal for working at height where wind-load is crucial. Tested to comply with EN 1263 standard, the mesh density of the net is 100 x 100mm, laced together with an extra fine 20 x 20mm debris net as standard. This combined net is able to catch small particles of debris as well as other heavy items such as dropped tools, to provide exceptional protection to workers and pedestrians at ground level.

“During the operation, paint and debris is contained within the working area by protective sheets and Combisafe’s Safety Net Fans. The material is then swept up, placed in dedicated tipping bins and later craned down to ground level to be disposed of,” added Dave Hulme.

As the restoration programme continues, the Safety Net Fans will be moved progressively down the tower until the entire structure has been cleaned, stripped and repainted.

When complete in 2015, the iconic Blackpool Tower will be restored to its original glory with a new appearance that belies its 117 years. Thanks to the use of Combisafe Safety Net Fans by contractor MPM Northwest, the detailed restoration of one of the world’s most iconic structures can continue with exceptional levels of protection provided to the residents, tourists and buildings below.