The iconic tower which forms the centerpiece of Everton Football Club’s crest is about to be seen in a whole new light.
Blues boss Roberto Martinez will visit the famous landmark in Everton Park on Tuesday (4 February) at 6.30pm to switch on a blue light that will illuminate the lock-up permanently.
The launch event, which will also be attended by the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson and the Friends of Everton Park, is the culmination of a year-long project to light up the tower and showcase the unbreakable association between the Club and the community.
Football fans and residents of the local area are invited to join Martinez and special guests to celebrate this important piece of local history shining once more at the heart of the community.
The 235-year-old lock-up, known locally as Prince Rupert’s Tower, sits on a triangular piece of ground in Everton Park between Netherfield Road South and Everton Brow.
Everton have teamed up with the city council and the Friends of Everton Park to bring the tower to life, following a clean-up programme which has made it look more pristine than ever.
The project came about after the Club lit up the Lock-Up as part of its Christmas campaign to turn the city blue in 2012. It made such an impact on the local area, that the city council approached the Club to help fund the light up initiative permanently.
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said: “For me, the Everton tower has always had a special meaning. When I first became an Evertonian, one of the first things I wanted to find out was its origin. I cannot tell you the number of times I have stood below the tower or next to it. I get a lot of inspiration from that old tower because it is at the heart of our club badge.
“For years, my mum and my Aunty Bet would pick me up at Lime Street Station when I arrived on matchdays from London. They would drive me up to Goodison Park and I would always ask them to go via the tower. They would sit in the car for five minutes and I would get out and gather my thoughts, especially when times had been tough or before a big game. It’s all to do with where we come from.
“The tower is the perfect symbol for our club, reminding us of the village where we changed our name from St Domingo’s to Everton FC. The place is significant for both Merseyside clubs because you can trace the birth of professional football in our city back to those historic early days.”
Everton took the landmark decision to change its name from St Domingo’s at a meeting in the Queen’s Head Hotel in Everton Village in 1879 and the lock-up, originally built to hold anyone disturbing the peace in the village, soon became the instantly recognisable symbol of the football club.
Everton’s nickname, The Toffees, is linked with Molly Bushell’s world-famous Toffee Shop that formerly stood adjacent to the tower and attracted patrons like Queen Victoria and novelist Charles Dickens.
Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “The lock-up is an important landmark at Everton Park, with huge significance to the community, the football club and the city as a whole. This investment will literally build a brighter future for the famous tower. It will be a beacon of light for the whole community to enjoy.
“The Lock Up still looks magnificent after standing on Everton Brow for over two centuries – and its illumination will give it even greater prominence, for generations to come. It will support our ongoing work to transform the park, and will celebrate the history, people, and sporting excellence which have helped make Everton famous the world over. It’s a fantastic project.”
And in a further boost to the occasion, just an hour after the ceremony, a new play celebrating the history, myths and legends of the lock-up will launch at the nearby Hope University Capstone Theatre.
The Heart of Everton’s Badge, written by local musician Kenny O’Connell, tells the stories of hardship, love, passion and triumph that have helped make the lock-up such a powerful, enduring symbol for both the football club and for local people.
The play, which came to fruition thanks to an Arts Council England grant, features legendary local figures such as Molly Bushell, immortal Blues goalscorer Dixie Dean and Bessie Braddock MP.
Tickets for the inaugural performance at Hope University’s Capstone Theatre on Tuesday 4 February (8pm) and the performance at Goodison Park on Friday 7 February (8pm) are only £10 and can be purchased from ticketquarter.co.uk.