Tuesday 12 September 2023

The BT Tower


This weekend was Open House weekend where you can visit buildings not usually open to the public. I applied for tickets to a few buildings which are allocated through a ballot. I was successful in one of them to go and see the BT Tower. Opened in 1965 as a telecommunications tower, it was known as The Post Office Tower. One year later the revolving restaurant on the 34th floor 'Top of the Tower' was opened to the public. A public observation gallery was also opened with more than 50,000 people visiting in the first three weeks. It was a very popular tourist attraction. But then in 1971, a terrorist bomb exploded on the 31st floor. Thankfully, no-one was injured but the damage to the building took two years to repair. Public access to all areas ceased and the restaurant closed its doors in 1980. So today was a huge thrill for me to finally have access to this building.
In the entrance hall are these quirky pieces of art based on telephone boxes.

This one is covered in pennies.

Another made a  very comfortable seat.
It was a hot and hazy day and unfortunately I couldn't see much in the distance but it was still exciting for me to see views from this part of London. In fact I took so many photos of what I could see outside the windows that sadly I didn't take any of the floor we were on which used to be the restaurant. The lift which is one of two that go up through the centre of the tower took less than 30 seconds to get us up here. I know newer buildings do go faster than that but it was fast enough for me. This is the only building in the country that allows evacuation by lift. Parliamentary legislation was required to allow this oddity.
For a large city, London is very green and from up here I had a good view over Regent's park and could also see lots of the rooftop gardens. The floor rotated whilst we were there as it would have done when the restaurant was open. It revolves 2.5 times per hour.

The green in the far right of the picture is Hyde park.
Another odd thing about the Tower is that it was classed as an official secret on its completion. Taking or possessing .photos of the Tower was technically an offence under the Official Secrets Act. The Tower was not marked on Ordnance Survey maps eventhough it was obviously there for all to see. It wasn't until 1993 when a member of parliament officially confirmed its existence that it could then be recognised as a national monument by English Heritage and was given Grade II status in 2003.

A  close up of Regent's Park with the semi circular John Nash terraced buildings. 


  1. I love the telephone boxes. Well done that girl.

    So 2.5 rotations an hour. Hmm, not enough g forces to press you against the windows then. That's not much fun. Just as well the views are so good.

  2. What neat history of the building. I haven't seen telephone boxes for years. We use to have red ones here.

  3. The green areas are beautiful. I hope they are protected forever.

  4. A tricky structure to keep secret! I rather like that seat made out of a phonebox.

  5. Fantastic views and good to see the green bits.
    I wanted to visit some buildings on Heritage Open days but it was too hot to go out!

  6. How interesting ! I am jealous that since Rick's death I have lost not only all my energy but got serious health problems. I have absolutely get out of here or I get crazy. I think I will leave a month earlier.

  7. How on earth did they keep it a secret. Thank goodness the area is not earthquake prone!

  8. How lucky you were to win a spot to tour this building. It couldn’t have been much of a secret when it was first built. It does stand right out in the skyline! I can see why you got so involved in the views from the revolving floor that you forgot to take photos inside. What a treat.

  9. How exciting for you. It's definitely an icon.

  10. Spectacular views! We have a similar program here in the first weekend of June.

  11. Now that was stunning: a tower kept as a secret!
    And do you know what? I was often in London, and I do keep my eyes open - but have to confess that I didn't notice it consciously. Of course I was on the Shard, but next time I will go (though I understood it is normally closed for public) and watch this one :-)
    "The Day of the Monument" we have too in Germany.

  12. Your aerial views of the city are wonderful. And I love that London *is* green especially for a great city. . Happy you won this lottery and got to visit. Quite funny that this very obvious installation was classified for a while. Gives new meaning to the phase "open secret."

  13. I rather like the settee made out of a phone-box.
    Wonderful views, you were so high up!

    All the best Jan


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