Towers Gift Centre

The gift shop as seen in the 1968 Guide Book

Long before the park unsealed the Earl's vault and introduced guests to the legend of Hex, the grand entrance of Alton Towers had served a very different purpose, as the Towers Gift Centre.

Whilst almost the entire house was gutted after the Second World War, the Armoury was one of the few rooms to be spared this fate and has been in almost constant use since the park reopened to the public. When the park first reopened in the 1950s, the Armoury originally played host to the park's main licenced bar, where guests could still have a taste of the former grandeur of the building and enjoy a drink, surrounded by stained-glass windows and big game trophies.

Around 1963 the park's main Gift Shop took over the Armoury, though a bar also remained in the same complex in one of the neighbouring suites. The gothic architecture was whitewashed and the floor was clad in Formica to give the space a more airy feel. The new gift shop was often compared to popular department stores of the time, such as Woolworths. But no amount of modern decoration could hide the distinctive style of the room as laid out over a hundred years before, not least because of the survival of the room's stained-glass windows and gothic oak ceiling high over head.

Towers Gift Centre in 1993

The shop would continue to operate out of the grand entrance for over thirty years, with only minor cosmetic upgrades and a rotating stock of ever more modern souvenirs for guests to enjoy. Eventually in its later years under Tussauds the Towers Gift Centre also hosted the Hall of Names, a sepia photo studio, which opened in 1993. The Towers Gift Centre operated until 1998, when it closed to make way for the atmospheric entrance to Hex, a much more fitting use of the main entrance to Alton Towers.

But the story didn't end there... keep an eye out when you're next queueing for Hex and you may still be able to spot some telltale signs from the Armoury's time as a retail location.

The coat of arms that once graced the wall above the inner entrance door of the Towers Gift Centre can still be found in the park to this day. Though, these days it is not on public view and can instead be found on the wall of the Op Cabin for the vault, sealed for two centuries.

Detailing inside the Operators Cabin, which was once part of the Towers Gift Centre

Attraction Stats

November 1998