London Calling: Incredible Views of London From The BT Tower
Written by Jaillan Yehia
It’s not often I get to see London from a new angle, and having lived here all my life I feel like I know the West End like the back of my hand.
But this weekend I was lucky enough to travel in one of the fastest lifts in Europe (at 15 miles per hour) to the top of the BT Tower, and see London from a whole new perspective.
Lilly Allen name-checked the BT Tower in her recent TV series, saying as long as you can see the tower you know you’re ok (she does actually live in this part of town), and for much of my life I’ve felt the same – I even vaguely remember when it had its original monicker, The Post Office Tower. Thesedays I can see the tower from my bedroom window, so it was strange to have never been inside, and exciting when I found out I could at last get to the top.
The tower has been closed to the public for 31 years; I thought it had closed directly after the 1971 IRA bomb due to security concerns, but according to the BT press release this isn’t true and it wasn’t completely closed to the public until 1981.
Since food service ceased at the famous revolving restaurant, which served over 100,000 diners in its day, appetite for the tower itself has increased. In 2010 the tower took part for the first time in London’s Open House weekend and a staggering 32,000 people applied for just 480 available free passes to the famous revolving platform, 528 feet above ground.
This year it’s been announced that twice as many places will be available by ballot. Looks like I’m not alone in my fascination with the tower! There was even talk of the restaurant re-opening for the Olympics with a major chef at the helm, but sadly those plans were recently shelved – which is a real shame, as judging by the unique place in London’s collective consciousness which the tower now occupies, the timing couldn’t have been better.
Some BT Tower Stats:
Opened: October 1965
- Construction Duration: 4.5 years
- Construction Material: 13,000 tons of concrete and 50,000 sq. ft. of glass.
- Cost: £2.5M
- Height: 189m (or 620 Feet) to the tip of the aerial. That’s 25 double-decker buses parked end-to-end.
- Width: 20 metres wide at its widest point – the restaurant section
- Time to revolve: 22 minutes
- Contraction in Winter: The Tower can be up to 23cm shorter
- Maximum sway in the wind: 20cm
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