BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

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.

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

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up to 189 metres (620 ft), the tower remains a major UK communications hub, although the microwave links have mainly been replaced by subterranean fibre optic links.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.

Going up

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Tower twice on corporate jollies, in March 2004 and August 2007.

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

There’s two lifts inside the Tower both looking like something off the set of Star Trek.

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

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.

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

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).

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned

Going down!

More info about the BT Tower:

BT Tower history
BT Tower March 2004 visit
BT Tower August 2007 visit

10 Comments on “BT Telecom Tower restaurant plans abandoned”

  1. That’s a shame. Maybe they’ll think again in a couple of years when our country’s finances are slightly better. It would be quite insensitive by a huge British company to spend that much at the time of financial crisis.

  2. I went up the tower in September 1971 It was one of the best things that I have ever done. I can still see in my mind’s eye the view it was a wonderful experience, There was a person telling us the landmarks, etc; I did have a video camera at the time but sadly the film is lost.

  3. I took my girlfriend for dinner up there either in 78 or 79, quite an experience eating while rotating.

    Back then BT was part of the GPO and owned by the nation, now it’s privitised so I suppose they aren’t going to spend money on something that will not profit the shareholders.

    Thanks Maggie.

  4. I think it is rather sad that the restaurant will not reopen again. However, during these cuts, it’s probably wise not to reopen it yet. Hopefully in another 20 years they’ll think about it again

  5. For those interested in re-living a detailed visit to the tower and in particular, the revolving restaurant, the Rank Organisation’s Look at Life series produced an excellent short film in 1966 about the building and how it works. It is available on dvd – Look at Life : Swingin’ London from DD Home Entertainment (code DD 21995).

  6. Something is happening at BT Tower now ( 10th Sept 2012). For the last 3 nights fireworks and then revolving strobe lighting! I know as the lighting is driving me mad as it is reflecting off the tall buildings and roof tops around me…..but I can’t find who to contact to ask them to raise the level a bit. With the dark nights now approaching it is even more noticeable and not good for epilepsy sufferers !! Anyone know…..? would be grateful to hear….thanks..

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