Back in November 2009, I was chuffed to learn that the BT was set to reopen the novel revolving restaurant situated on the 34th floor of the BT Tower.
A report in the Times spoke of ‘big-name’ chefs being approached to run the restaurant which had been closed for thirty years. Sadly, it seems that these plans have now been scrapped.
Built in the sixties
Previously regaling under the names of the Post Office Tower, the London Telecom Tower, the British Telecom Tower, the BT Tower and now opting for the snappier ‘BT Tower’, this iconic 177m tall cylindrical building has been a central London landmark since opening in 1965.
With the aerials at the top taking the building’s height up to 189 metres (620 ft), the tower remains a major UK communications hub, although the microwave links have mainly been replaced by subterranean fibre optic links.
In the second floor of the base of the tower can be found the TV Network Switching Centre, carrying broadcasting traffic and relays signals between television broadcasters (including the BBC), production companies, advertisers, international satellite services and uplink companies.
Top of the Tower restaurant
Officially opened to the public on 16 May 1966 by Tony Benn and Billy Butlin, a rotating restaurant called the “Top of the Tower” was located on the 34th floor.
Operated by seaside holiday camp kings Butlins, the restaurant proved a huge hit with Londoners and tourists, offering a full 360 degrees panorama of London every 22 minutes.
Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed to the public after a Provisional IRA bomb exploded in the roof of the men’s toilets on 31 October 1971, closing permanently in 1980, partly due to continuing security fears.
Although it’s been used for BT corporate events in recent years, hopes that the restaurant would reopen to the public have just been dashed.
BT have just quietly dropped the idea, claiming it could not justify the time and money the project would involve at the moment.
There’s two lifts inside the Tower both looking like something off the set of Star Trek.
At the top of the Tower in the former restaurant. The outside area rotates around the central core, marked by the circular metal strip to the left.
The view from the top is fabulous, and sadly one that is unlikely to be viewed by many Londoners (the only way you can get in the Tower now is to be invited to a corporate bash or during the Open House visits).
More info about the BT Tower: