30 March 2017 | 10 °C

What Was It Like, Dining In The Post Office Tower?

What Was It Like, Dining In The Post Office Tower?

Ever wished you could step back in time and visit Top of the Tower, the restaurant at the top of the Post Office Tower?

Here's a candid glimpse of what it might've been like, courtesy of a Look At Life film from 1966.

The film explores a 1960s trend for eating in towers, taking a brief tour to Berlin, Rotterdam and Paris.

But stick with it because 2.25 minutes in, we're back in London, heading up to the 35th floor for a cocktail before stepping down to the 34th for the Top of the Tower restaurant.

These were exciting times, back when the Post Office Tower was the tallest building in Britain.

It seems almost impossible today, but back then, the restaurant served 800 lunches and 1,300 dinners each week.

Chefs in the kitchen on the 36th floor of the Post Office Tower.

And all the while, the restaurant rotates, making a complete revolution every 23 minutes, giving diners something to distract them from the fact that their waiters no longer have any idea where their particular table has gone.

A nattily-hatted lift operator at the Post Office Tower.

We're struck by the phenomenal detail of this little 9-minute film: as well as seeing the restaurant, you can peek into the storage rooms in the basement, see the chefs in the kitchen, the window cleaners (who use the rotating glass to their advantage) lift operators, and even the chaps looking after the motor that makes the thing rotate.

The Top of the Tower restaurant was open from 1966 to 1980, when it was closed to the public for security reasons.

Since then, it's been used for special events, such as Children in Need.

Last Updated 03 February 2017

NickA

I am sad and old enough to remember visiting the visitors galleries just below the restaurant as a child - before they closed as a result of the IRA's bomb. And my parents dined (once only) at the restaurant. For some reason the Post Office franchised the restaurant to Butlins - and it was never a fine dining experience (but dining out in the '60s and early '70s in London was very different from today). One problem was that although the floor of the restaurant was on a turntable, the edge was not. My parents had a table at the edge, and my mother put her handbag down on the ground, and five minutes later, when she went to get something out of the bag, it was gone. Obviously an everyday occurance, as when she reported this to a waiter, he walked around the perimeter and retrieved her bag from where she had left it - the bag was on the other side of the line, and remained still whilst the table was slowly revolving.

Matt

Who actually works in the Tower now and what do they do? I'd love to know, it's such an impractical building...

Annabel Smyth

It is used for special occasions today - my husband was invited to dine there by Lambeth Council because of his involvement with a local charity. Sadly, he can't remember whether it rotated or not, and it's no good asking him what the food was like, as he even likes aeroplane food.....