Fresh demolition plans for Polo Tower

The Polo Tower in 1999 during a poppy appeal launch.
The Polo Tower in 1999 during a poppy appeal launch.

The Polo Tower has been earmarked for demolition amidst safety fears.

Residents complained that the 168ft landmark at the old Frontierland fairground site was swaying and creaking noises could be heard at the base.

An investigation by structural engineers found there was no imminent danger, but owners Morrisons have told Lancaster City Council they believe the tower should still be pulled down.

No date has been set for the proposed demolition as further survey work is scheduled and the council will first have to give planning permission.

The Polo Tower has been a controversial fixture on Morecambe seafront since 1994.

It was originally known as the Space Tower and was built at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1974.

The tower was moved in 1993 to make way for the Big One roller coaster and was installed at Frontierland, also owned by the Thompson family of Blackpool.

Geoffrey Thompson, owner of the park, hoped the £500,000 tower would revive the flagging fairground’s fortunes and attract more visitors.

The tower, sponsored by Polo mints, opened in 1995 and boasted a revolving circular platform which went up and down the structure, offering spectacular views across the bay at the top.

Although initially the tower proved popular it soon fell into disuse and a state of disrepair.

Frontierland closed in 2000 after visitor numbers continued to fall but the 
tower remained.

Morrisons had a contract with a telecommunications company to use the giant Polo tube as a mast until the agreement expired in 2013.

Since the park closed, the site has had a chequered history.

In 2001 planning permission was given to build a Freeport-style retail outlet village on the derelict site but the plans were scrapped due to little interest from retailers.

A further proposal to build a hotel, leisure club and luxury apartments on the site collapsed in 2009 when the developers went bust.

In 2007, Councillor Ron Sands called for residents to boycott Polo mints until the shabby tower was pulled down because it was “neither a credit to Morecambe’s spectacular seafront promenade nor the nation’s favourite mint”.

In 2006 and 2008 Lancaster City Council ordered Morrisons to tidy up the Polo Tower and the frontage of the site.

In 2012 museum expert and designer Robert Aitken from Bare unveiled plans to transform the Polo Tower into a hi-tec ‘digital tower’ which would broadcast images and messages with a digital telescope.

Then in 2013 developers Opus North revealed a £17m blueprint for a shopping park, hotel and family pub on the Frontierland site, to include demolition of the Polo Tower and its replacement with a piece of public art.

After overwhelming public support for the plans, Opus North was recently told by Lancaster City Council to go back to the drawing board and provide more information on “highways and traffic, retail impacts and elevational detail”.

Revised plans are expected shortly before the council can make a decision.