Dammit, I didn’t get a ticket. This weekend, the BT Tower is open as part of London’s Open House programme. The tower, and the magical revolving restaurant at the top, has been a mild obsession of mine since childhood.
It’s got that space-age look, the very slenderness of the tower emphasising the dizzying height. It’s always struck me as a very glamorous building, and when the restaurant was still open (sadly when I was far too young to go) I could think of nothing more sophisticated than sitting at a table, drinking a glass of wine and watching the lights of London revolve slowly beneath me.
The nearest I’d been to it as a child was, well, quite a long way away, from the 6th floor Crystal Palace flat where my uncle and auntie lived. Visiting them was always a treat – a combination of Auntie Nora’s fabulous cooking, and the best view of London I’d seen at the time. If you looked out the kitchen window, and craned your neck a bit, you could see the BT Tower, sparkling in the distance, representing London proper.
By the time I was old enough to be contemplating booking a table at a revolving restaurant, the tower had long since shut down. I’ve been intermittently titillated by rumours that the restaurant is to re-open, but apparently there are no plans at present. When I moved into my Bloomsbury flat, I was thrilled to have a view of the tower, a bit closer than it was from Crystal Palace (but still only visible if I stepped out onto the balcony and craned my neck).
So I’ll just have to take lucky Kieran Long’s word for it about the views, and the different perspective of London offered. Read his piece in the Evening Standard, and glow green with envy.
The Standard also has a list of their top 10 Open House attractions. I’ve compiled my own, although the chances of getting to all of them are pretty slim. Here goes:
The 1901 Arts Club, 7 Exton Street SE1 8UE
55 Broadway (London Underground Head Office), 55 Broadway SW1H 0BD
99 Free Trade Wharf, 340 The Highway E1W 3ET
All Souls Church, Langham Place W1B 3DA
BBC Bush House, Aldwych WC2B 4PH
Dr Johnson’s House, 17 Gough Square EC4A 3DE
Freemasons’ Hall, 60 Great Queen Street WC2B 5AZ
Goodenough College, London House, Mecklenburgh Square WC1N 2AB
Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road W14 8LZ
120 Fleet Street (ex Daily Express), 120 Fleet Street EC4A 2BB
Image: from fishyfish photostream on Flickr, with CCL.