BT Tower Restaurant Won’t Re-Open

The BT TowerLast September, we were excited to learn, via a story in the Sunday Times, that plans were afoot to re-open the revolving restaurant at the top of the BT Tower, closed since 1980. Gary Rhodes was even said to be in discussions to run the kitchen, and the telecommunications giant was reportedly keen to get things in place ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

Sadly, it seems that the project is no longer going ahead. A small note (£) in yesterday’s Sunday Times Prufrock column divulged the news that BT have quietly dropped the idea of re-opening the restaurant. No reason is offered for the decision.

Bad news for what would have likely been a very popular restaurant, though it’s easy to imagine that the logistics in running it haven’t gotten any easier since its 70s heyday; it was hit by an IRA bomb in 1971, and was eventually closed due to security reasons in 1980. We’ll have to make do with the occasional Open House visit to sate our curiosity for poking around Cold War relics.

Photo / gazkinz

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  • murphyz

    Oh this is disappointing; I was looking forward to seeing the views offered by this iconic landmark. Pity it’s been canned.

  • http://twitter.com/cjmaill Chris Maillard

    Probably impossible to insure; that was always the reason cited previously. Fire exits and safety facilities are only just up to 1960s standards (it took an act of parliament to make it legal), the building materials have always been of the rather questionable quality of that era (remember Ronan Point? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronan_Point) and the bomb didn’t do much for its structural integrity either.
    It still revolves, though, so it’s a shame only BT bosses and their clients will be able to experience it.

    • TomBolton

      @Chris Maillard The quality of materials wasn’t the problem with Ronan Point: it was a design flaw, meaning that the structural integrity of the tower depended on load-bearing precast concrete panels, stacked like cards. That’s why the gas explosion in 1968 lead to a partial collapse, rather than just damaging the one flat.

  • http://twitter.com/amuchmoreexotic Ben

    The restaurant area may not be open to the general public, but they do hire it out for corporate events – or at least, they did in about 2005 when I went up it. So if you really want to get up there, all you need to do is get a job where you control a lavish events budget.

  • Warren

    If they can do Vertigo 42 then why not this???

  • Anonymous

    @warren There are no stairs tower, and only two lifts. Parliament granted it an exception to the usual rules requiring that it can be evacuated by stairs. It is the only building in the UK where you can and should use the lift in a fire.

    I expect that is what makes insurance difficult.

    @ Chris, she’s no Ronan Point! This was the pinacle of 1950s design and engineering – its probably the most solid tall building in London (its got a concrete core that runs into deep foundations, designed to minimise swaying in the highest winds as its microwave transmitters require perfect line of sight to work).

  • officeHoward

    In Berlin there is a 60s tv tower which has a rather nice revolving restaurant (in contrast to the lower obseravtion deck):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernsehturm_Berlin

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  • Tina Fuller

    I was very dissapointed to learn that the BT Tower restaurant will not be re-opening to the public. I have been fortunate enough to have attended several corporate events there, they were truly awesome experiences with fantastic views. I am a bit biased though, as it’s my favourite building and I had always wanted to go there! It’s the first thing I look for every time I go to London (I know-saddo. I’ve got a few pics too)!! It’s such a shame, I was looking forward to taking my family and friends there for a meal. They were exicited about it too! Hope BT change their minds and find a way to re-open. Such a shame/waste to keep it for corporate events only.

  • Tina Fuller

    I was very dissapointed to learn that the BT Tower restaurant will not be re-opening to the public. I have been fortunate enough to have attended several corporate events there, they were truly awesome experiences with fantastic views. I am a bit biased though, as it’s my favourite building and I had always wanted to go there! It’s the first thing I look for every time I go to London (I know-saddo. I’ve got a few pics too)!! It’s such a shame, I was looking forward to taking my family and friends there for a meal. They were exicited about it too! Hope BT change their minds and find a way to re-open. Such a shame/waste to keep it for corporate events only.

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  • Ian Thomson

    Dean,
    That is disappointing. I read this (now old) post while trying to find out how I can go up the tower for the second time in my life – the first being about 1969 with my Mum and brother! Fantastic times, but a let-down that the restaurant will not be opening.Incidentally you have a great interest in London for an American – at least I guess you are from the USA (“would have *likely* been”, “gotten”).  I’m pleased to see you love the place.Ian

    • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

      Thanks for your comments, Ian. I’m not American (though I did live for a while in Canada); however, I am grammatically inconsistent. If you’re looking to go up the BT Tower again, in recent years it has been opened to the public for Open House London in September, although tickets are done via ballot and are heavily oversubscribed.

  • patrick frankling-kerr

    my Father told me that when he lived in Fitzroy Sq. in the mid-sixties he often dined in the revolving restaurant.
    He also told me that Tony Benn in oversight left the tower on BT’s books when BT was released from public ownership, and so got a publicly owned edifice free.
    would be nice to know if BT charge the public purse for it’s upkeep.

  • patrick frankling-kerr

    how do I scroll down this page!!!!