The magnificent BT Tower and its renowned revolving restuarant will be open to the public again in time for the 2012 London Olympics. Indeed, anyone younger than 30 has never had the chance to experience the London’s greatest retro landmark, unless you’re Peter Andre, work for Children’s In Need or have a lot of shares in British Telecom.
British Pathe have some brilliant videos of the BT Tower, also known as the Telecom Tower, and formerly the GPO Tower. From bikini models being spun around in the revolving restaurant to construction workers banging in the cantilever lattice of steel.
With its typical 1960s concrete and tinted glass cladding The BT tower is an icon, not only of London’s skyline but culturally, featuring in numerous films, television series and novels including Doctor Who and V For Vendetta. There’s just something fixating, hazy, empowering and alien about the BT Tower that has evidently captured the imaginations of writers for decades.
So where did the tower come from? What did London look like before the tower? What does the restaurant look like? Click on the images to watch the fantastic archive reels…
This 1960s party at the top of the BT Tower shows bikini models sitting on Billy Butlin’s lap as his waiters look on in their dickie bows. Brilliant 1960s footage, moustaches galore and ash trays everywhere.
In this film “View From The Top” (1966) the BT Tower is given the seal of royal approval by Her Majesty The Queen. Sir Billy Butlin who ran the revolving restaurant at the top of the tower meets The Queen and whizzes her up in the 7metres-a-second elevator.
This colour video of construction work on the tower has great vertigo-inducing shots of workers hanging in harnesses affixing scaffolding, and men welding and operating pulleys:
Great shots of an incomplete tower, with good insider footage around the tower’s base. A must-watch for any real BT Tower enthusiasts!
You can watch our 8 favourite Post Office tower videos and newsreels here, although of course there’s much more in the archive. Remember to search ‘GPO Tower’ and ‘Telecom Tower’ in the British Pathe film archive as opposed to BT Tower.
Also, the BT Tower’s Wikipedia page is a great read, packed with politics, tower gossip and details of the 2012 plans.
DID YOU KNOW… The BT Tower is tinted as a fire prevention technique, normal glass would have a dangerous green house effect in hot sunshine. In the event of a fire, people in the tower are allowed to evacuate via the elevators, a parliamentary bill was passed to allow this.