Saturday, 17 October 2020
Something else very tall, just not quite as tall as yesterday's tall things

The BT Tower in London, called the Post Office Tower when it was built in 1964, before responsibility for the telephone network was split from the Post Office to become British Telecommunications. 

Despite the Thames Crossing pylons being 3ft taller the Post Office Tower remained the tallest building in London for a few more years. The pylons are just outside London in Thurrock Essex and Swanscombe Kent.  

I remember the PO Tower being built in 1964; being so modern for the transmission and receipt of 'microwaves' I was never sure (as it rose to a great height from wherever one looked) whether it was a good thing (Harold Wilson's white heat of technology) or sinister (lair of the alien monsters in a rather gripping Dr Who story.) A few years later the Goodies (zany comedy programme, if you don't remember it)  had the tower destroyed by Kitten Kong, who was so cute I would have forgiven her anything. 

For a few years the public were encouraged to visit. There was a public viewing gallery and a revolving restaurant. My father took me up to the gallery one afternoon as a treat after a visit to a specialist dentist where I was fitted with a brace on my teeth. He took some photographs, which I recently found and copied. This is the best one (remember this was nearly 55 years ago).

Centre left you can see Senate House of the University of London clearly, and to the right the dome of the British Museum. That courtyard is now enclosed against the elements but the two buildings remain and are still in the same use. 

The public have not been allowed inside since a bomb attack by the Kilburn Brigade of the IRA in 1971. I don't know how they found it as despite being visible for 20 miles, marked on the London A-Z and open to the public it was a state secret known only as Location 23.  I took this photograph of the outside in 2018. It is still in use but the ground floor was very shabby. I remember a beautiful little garden and a marble fish pond full of enormous goldfish. 

Despite many new and much taller buildings the tower is still prominent on the London skyline because of the lighting effects, including a written banner which will change for special occasions. I hope that one day it will be reopened to public visits.  

Posted on 10/17/2020 11:04 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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