England & Wales Culture, sport and tourism, Economy and regeneration, Housing and planning

A History of Local Government in Ten Buildings: Blackpool Tower and Bath’s Roman Baths


The #SpaceRace has been underway for two weeks now and nominations have been rolling in. Competition is fierce. From parks, to model railways, to museums and theatres, Britain’s local authorities are in charge of some diverse spaces.

Indeed, our councils run some of the UK’s most famous tourist attractions. Blackpool Council whipped out their ace card pretty early in the competition, Tweeting us a stunning pic of the one and only Blackpool Tower. At the other end of England, Bath and North East Somerset retaliated with another of Britain’s distinguished attractions: Bath’s Roman Baths.

Both of these spaces are integral to the character of their locations, creating a sense of place and playing a central role in local tourism economies. The Roman Baths have been central to Bath’s identity for two thousand years and Blackpool Tower is an iconic emblem of the seaside resort, dominating the skyline since 1894. The value of these spaces has been officially recognised, with both sites gaining Grade 1 listed status. The Roman Baths and Blackpool Tower are emblematic of their areas’ social, cultural and economic history.

Both the Roman Baths and Blackpool Tower are instrumental in local tourism economies. The Roman Baths attract an estimated one million visitors per year, making the site one of the UK’s most popular day trips. The Heritage Services section of Bath and North East Somerset Council manage the site, providing a range of recreational and educations opportunities, as well as curating the museum and taking care of finances. The council’s record is impressive. The site has won so many awards they have a whole webpage to list them. Check it out here.

And Blackpool Council has identified the Tower as a major tool of local economic regeneration. The authority purchased Blackpool Tower in 2010 as part of a £250m regeneration project. In a major refurbishment, the tower received a new all-glass observation wing, as well as a 4D cinema. The traditional attractions, namely the circus and ballroom, remain. The regeneration project has had considerable success, boosting Blackpool’s tourism economy. The number of yearly visitors is a now an estimated 13 million, up from a trough of 8 million.

Blackpool Tower and the Roman Baths are two fine examples of how local government invests in and manages interesting spaces with multifaceted benefits for the local area. These spaces play integral roles in their local areas’ sense of identity and economies and we think they should be celebrated.

Does your council have a space to rival the Blackpool Tower and the Roman Baths? Tweet us at @LGiU #SpaceRace