GALES have blown the dome off the top of Darwen Tower.

The 85-foot landmark was stripped of its crowning glory by gusts of up to 80mph overnight.

The dome has landed by the side of the tower.

Ken Lavelle, of Bolton Road, said: "We looked across and thought there was something not quite right so we got the binoculars out."

Elaine West, of Lisburn Drive, added: "We were just sat in the kitchen when my daughter noticed it was gone.

“We have a view all over Darwen from where we are.

"Sometimes you can see the tower and other times it's surrounded by mist.

"But we got the binoculars out and it was gone."

Joanne Rudge from the Marsh House area, said: “My five-year-old boy started crying when he saw it.

"He was saying, ‘what’s happened to my rocket?’

“That tower means everything to Darweners. The council had better repair it - they don’t want a load of Darweners on their backs.

"It’s our heritage.”

In 1947, gales blew away the original wooden turret which had topped the tower.

There were fears that it would be bricked up, but in 1971 Coun Bill Lees, who was Mayor of Darwen at the time, launched a fund to have the tower restored and crowned with a new dome.

In 2008, a weather vane was broken off and bent out of place during winds of 70mph-80mph.

Darwen Tower, otherwise known as Jubilee Tower, was completed in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and also to celebrate the victory of the local people for the right to access the moor.

It was opened to the public on 22 September 1898.

Click on the link below for our photo gallery of the damaged Darwen Tower.