London’s West End skyline is graced by an architectural marvel that has stood the test of time—the BT Tower. This imposing structure, formerly known as the Post Office Tower, has fascinated tourists, piqued the curiosity of many, and captivated architecture enthusiasts for decades. It possesses a grandeur that gives the urban landscape a distinctive touch, making it a true icon of the West End. Let’s delve into the history, challenges, and unique features of the BT Tower, and explore its significance in the ever-evolving city of London.
The BT Tower’s Dominance in the West End Skyline
Amidst an area relatively devoid of skyscrapers, the BT Tower rises tall and slender, dominating the West End skyline. Its presence is not only awe-inspiring but also evokes a sense of curiosity and wonder. While other buildings have joined the London skyline over the years, the BT Tower remains an iconic structure that captivates the imagination of both locals and visitors.
A Journey Through Time: Construction and Opening
The construction of the BT Tower took place in the 1960s, and it was officially opened to the public in 1966. The tower’s creation was part of a visionary project aimed at revolutionizing the telecommunications infrastructure of the United Kingdom. With its imposing height and advanced technology, the BT Tower became an emblem of progress and innovation, symbolizing the country’s commitment to modernity.
The BT Tower’s Historic Milestones
In 1965, the BT Tower achieved a remarkable feat by surpassing the height of the iconic dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. At that time, it became the tallest building in London, asserting its dominance in the city’s skyline. The BT Tower stood tall as a testament to human achievement and engineering prowess.
The NatWest Skyscraper Claims the Title
The glory of being the tallest building in London was short-lived for the BT Tower. In 1980, the NatWest skyscraper, located in the City, claimed the record for height. Although surpassed in terms of physical stature, the BT Tower maintained its allure and continued to be an integral part of London’s urban landscape.
Unforgettable Experiences: The Revolving Restaurant
One of the most captivating aspects of the BT Tower was its iconic revolving restaurant, situated on the 34th floor. This extraordinary dining venue offered visitors an unforgettable experience, combining delicious meals with breathtaking panoramic views of the city. As the restaurant rotated, diners could enjoy a complete visual feast, absorbing the beauty of London from every angle.
Overcoming Turbulence: The IRA Bombing Incident
The BT Tower faced a challenging period in its history when, in 1971, an IRA bomb attack targeted a men’s toilet within the structure. The impact of this violent act led to the closure of the revolving restaurant and prompted a comprehensive reassessment of security measures. The incident left a profound mark on the tower and its management, underscoring the importance of maintaining safety and vigilance.
Emerging from Secrecy: The BT Tower on the Maps
For many years, the BT Tower remained a “secret” structure, absent from city maps. Its absence created an aura of mystery, sparking curiosity about its existence. It wasn’t until 1993 that the tower was finally included in official maps, revealing its presence and confirming its significant role in London’s urban landscape. The BT Tower’s inclusion brought it out of the shadows, and it has since become a symbol of the city’s architectural heritage.
The BT Tower’s Role in Pollution Control
In the present day, the BT Tower primarily serves a crucial function related to air pollution control in London. Its privileged position and height enable the tower to monitor and assess air quality in the city. This pivotal role highlights its adaptability to contemporary challenges and underscores its ongoing relevance and importance.
A Glimpse into the Future: The Return of the Revolving Restaurant?
Despite the transformations and fluctuations the BT Tower has experienced over the years, there is ongoing discussion about the possibility of reopening the beloved revolving restaurant. While concrete plans have yet to materialize, the mere notion of restoring this unique dining experience to London’s food scene sparks excitement and ignites the imagination of many.
Opening Doors: The BT Tower and Open House Weekend
During the annual Open House Weekend—an event celebrating architecture and granting access to usually restricted buildings—the BT Tower occasionally opens its doors to visitors. This extraordinary opportunity allows individuals fascinated by the tower to experience its beauty up close and appreciate its vital role within London’s urban context.
If you can’t climb it you can see the panoramic view as it was in 2012 here.