Blackpool rollercoaster wins civil engineering award

ICON, the newly-opened rollercoaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, has been recognised at the Institution of Civil Engineers North West awards.

The UK’s first double launch rollercoaster, ICON takes thrill-seekers beyond 50mph and up to 30 metres into the air.

Preston-based Westlakes Engineering teamed up with Mack Rides of Germany to combine engineering expertise with knowledge of human physiology to develop the safe yet exciting attraction.

The ride’s 1,143 metre track ‘interacts’ with other famous rides like the Big Dipper and Steeplechase and was virtually mapped by Westlakes before work began on site, using a system called 3D BIM Modelling to ensure that ICON could fit into what is already the world’s most ride intensive amusement park. Blackpool Pleasure Beach says it is the most complex technology ever seen in its theme park.

Emma Antrobus, north west director of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: "For this award we were looking for excellence and imaginative concepts in civil engineering and this complex ICON project certainly delivers.

"It’s a great advertisement showing the breadth of civil engineering, highlighting it as a brilliant career and delivering something which will thrill and delight thousands of people for years to come."

Chris Pratt, director at Westlakes added; “The engineering in a rollercoaster is complex and building one like ICON in such limited space was very challenging. But it is great experience for the team, you don’t forget it.

"Thirty years ago one of my most memorable projects as a young engineer was the design of the Avalanche ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and our team has been working on rides like this ever since."

Steve Hughes, director of engineering and projects at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, added: “ICON really has been the most challenging, but also most rewarding, project that we have ever undertaken at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

"When planning and constructing ICON, there were so many factors which other amusement parks would never have to consider such as proximity to other rides and the fact that we had to put the foundations into challenging ground conditions. Taking all these factors into consideration, we are delighted with the end result and ICON truly is an engineering marvel.”

The project’s award win for Medium Project of the Year was announced at the ICE North West Annual Awards dinner at the Hilton where ICE president Andrew Wyllie presented the trophies.