The restaurant at the top of the BT Tower is set to open to the public this Summer, as part of the iconic building’s golden anniversary celebrations.
The re-opening, for two weeks only, will enable around 1400 members of the public to enjoy a unique dining experience in the famous revolving restaurant which boasts unparalleled views across London.
The BT Tower is one of London’s most iconic landmarks, famous to visitors from all over the world. It has featured in several movies – including Bedazzled and The Bourne Ultimatum. It was also in a 1966 series of Doctor Who and was memorably in a famous 1970’s Goodies comedy sketch involving a giant kitten known as Kitten Kong. It was London’s tallest building from its opening through to 1980 during which period it was known as the Post Office Tower.
The building was officially opened by Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 8 October 1965, with the public restaurant opened by Tony Benn MP and Billy Butlin on 19 May, 1966. The 189m (620ft) Tower, equivalent to a line of 25 double-decker buses parked end-to-end, was closed to the public in 1971, except for the restaurant which remained open until 1980. Amazingly, the Tower was designated an official secret and did not appear on Ordnance Survey maps until after it was officially revealed by Kate Hoey MP under parliamentary privilege in 1993.
Gavin Patterson, BT Group Chief Executive, said: “I’m delighted we’re able to re-open the restaurant to the public. The BT Tower was a unique feat of engineering when it was first built and it remains an important and much loved building today. It has been a working icon of technological innovation for fifty years and what better way to celebrate that than by opening it to the public.”
“The ballot winners are in for a treat as they will be able to see London in all its glory. People who choose the dinner option will have the added bonus of seeing the sun set followed by the dazzling spectacle of London at night.”
BT is expecting there to be huge demand for places so it has decided to give members of the public an equal chance by holding a ballot with the lucky winners drawn at random.
Anyone over the age of 18 will be able to enter the ballot with the winners having the choice of a champagne lunch or dinner in the famous revolving 34th floor at the top of the BT Tower. A four course lunch will cost £49.95 per head whilst the seven course dinner will cost £67.95 per head.
Anyone who is not successful in the restaurant ballot will get another opportunity to visit the top of the BT Tower this autumn, when BT will hold a further ballot to offer more than 2500 people the opportunity to visit the 34th floor when they will be served free drinks and snacks.
The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner between Saturday, 25 July and Friday, 7 August, excluding Mondays, with one sitting for lunch and dinner each day. This means the lucky winners will be able to spend several hours at the top if they wish with no pressure to make way for other diners.
Each winner will be able to bring up to three guests. The first ballot, for week one, will open on www.bt.com/bttower50 at 9am on Monday, 22 June 2015, closing at 9am on Monday, 29 June. A second ballot, for the following week, will then begin at 9am on Tuesday, 30 June lasting until 9am on Tuesday 7 July.
The BT Tower has been an important communications hub, for fifty years and is currently home to the TV Network Switching Centre. This carries broadcasting traffic and relays signals between broadcasters, production companies, advertisers, international satellite services and uplink companies.
The Tower has also played a role in many high profile public celebrations, including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. More recently, a 360 degree photograph taken from the roof of the BT Tower entered the record books as the world’s biggest panoramic photograph.
Prince Harry sent his first ever tweet from the 34th floor whilst last month the scrolling LED band around the outside of the BT Tower announced Princess Charlotte’s birth.
The BT Tower has also helped charities to raise millions of pounds. The Disasters Emergency Committee has staged many appeals from the building whilst celebrities and BT volunteers have collected huge sums for televised appeals including Children in Need, Comic Relief and Sport Relief.
BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson abseiled down the Tower with members of the Royal marines in March 2014 to raise money for charity despite having a fear of heights.