September 27, 2019

Visiting London’s BT Tower

One weekend a year some of the famous landmarks and interesting buildings in London open up to members of the public.

Open House weekend in London allows people to gain access to buildings such as Downing Street, the Foreign Office and the Shard – all for free!

For most of the buildings you can just queue up and enter but there are some that you have to enter a ballot for.

I’ve been entering the ballot for Downing Street and the BT Tower for years so I was very surprised when I got an email this year confirming I had won a ticket to enter the BT Tower!

(Phillip Rosie)

What’s the BT Tower?

The tower was commissioned by the General Post Office to support microwave aerials carrying telecommunication transmissions from London to the rest of the country.

The tower used to be referred to as the Post Office tower. It opened to the public in 1966 and had a rotating restaurant on the 34th floor. It makes one revolution every 22 minutes.

In 1971, a bomb exploded on the 31st floor, ripping out glass and steel. Nobody was hurt but access to the tower was restricted as a result.

The restaurant officially closed to the public for security reasons in 1980 and full public access to the building ended in 1981.

It was declared a national monument in 2001 and now has Grade II listed status.

View from the BT Tower

So what’s it like at the top?

To get in I had to show my ID and then be issued a special pass. Downstairs there’s a display on the tower, how it was made and also pictures of the Queen visiting.

There’s also some great pictures of it through the ages – including when it was one of the focal points in the countdown to the Olympics. I remember it counting down the days on its LED screen to the opening ceremony.

I took the lift to the top – which travels very fast!

It was very relaxed at the top. Basically you just grabbed a coffee and some biscuits and then find a seat in front of the window. You don’t need to move as the floor revolves!

Read more: London Open House: Inside the Foreign Office

When I was entering the tower I was a bit disappointed because it was raining but by the time I got to the top it had stopped and there was a great view over London!

In fact, you could see the clouds coming in around some of London’s main landmarks and it looked really cool!

The tower has great views of The Shard, London Eye, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf. You could even see Wembley Stadium in the distance.

It was nice to see the route I walk to work from above! I spent around an hour looking out over London and trying to spot all of the famous places. I genuinely could have stayed there for longer!

Open House London takes place on 19 & 20 September 2020. 

2 responses to “Visiting London’s BT Tower”

  1. Roma says:

    Ooo that’s really cool that you were able to get a ticket. I didn’t even realise BT Tower was a part of Open House!

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