The Postmaster General, Anthony
Wedgwood Benn, said that the Post Office Tower symbolised
20th - century Britain. Lean, practical and futuristic, it
epitomised the technical and architectural skills of the
second industrial revolution.
Booklet: The Post Office
Tower, London. Two shillings and sixpence.
The Public Opening
The Royal Visit
Her Majesty the Queen visited on 17th May 1966 and took tea
with the Postmaster General who presented her with a gold
replica of a model of the Tower.
Magazine: July 1966 price 3d [Anthony Wedgwood Benn and the
The Tower was opened to the public on 19th May 1966. A ceremony of
invited dignitaries in the morning was followed by the public opening in
The Programme of Opening
The Post Office Tower soars 250 feet above the dome of St. Paul's and
is the tallest building in Britain. It is 580 feet high and is
surmounted by a 40 foot trellis mast supporting a radar aerial designed
to help short range weather forecasting.
It has been built to provide
more long distance telephone and television circuits. These are carried
on four main microwave radio paths - from London towards Birmingham,
Coventry and the North; toward Southampton, Bristol and the West and
also for the satellite communication ground station at Goonhilly Downs;
toward Dover, Folkestone and the Continent; and toward Norwich and the
North-East of England.
Besides its strictly functional use the Tower adds to the itinerary of
London's attractions. The public can view the panorama of London from
galleries near the top of the Tower. Two lifts, each travelling at 1,000
feet per minute, carry passengers to the three public observation
In addition there is a public revolving restaurant and cocktail lounge
near the summit; the restaurant makes between two and three complete
revolutions every hour. Butlin's Holidays Ltd provide the catering at
"the top of the tower" restaurant.
- The Postmaster General Rt. Hon. Anthony Wedgwood Benn MP
will speak and invite the Mayor of Camden to be the first
- Sir William E Butlin MBE will respond.
- The Mayor of Camden will reply for the visitors.
- The Director of the London Telecommunications Region of
the Post Office, Mr. A.B. Harnden TD will close the
- Guests will be invited to go to the top of the tower.
Refreshments will be served.
The Tower was opened to the Public at 3pm on 19th May 1966 by Tony
Benn and Billy Butlin.
An early film shows two ribbons, the first being cut by Tony Benn (MP)
and the second by Billy Butlin who had leased the restaurant.
Extract (DF 899) from The Post Office Circular
(Telephone Edition) 17th August 1966
"Enquiries are being made at Post Offices and Telephone Managers'
Offices for information about admission to the Post Office Tower. The
following details - which should be extracted and
kept at public enquiry points - will enable staff to assist
members of the public who wish to visit the Tower."
||Maple Street, LONDON, W1.
||Adults 4 shillings: Children under 14 2 shillings.
Children under 14 are not admitted
unless accompanied by an adult.
|Hours of admission
||Mondays to Fridays 9.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays 9.0 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.
|Refreshments at the Tower
||These are limited to lunch and dinner only at
Butlin's Restaurant (Top of the Tower),
to whom applications must be made for reservations.
Note: The BT Tower CLOSED to the public in 1980.
Undoubtedly, the main attraction, the 'Top of the Tower' restaurant, leased to Butlins, could seat 120
diners on the 11 feet wide revolving section which formed part of the
34th floor. A complete revolution took 22 minutes.
"Patrons will notice that the emblem of the
'topofthetower' is a cog-wheel and this is carried on the
carpet, serviettes, and also on the jackets worn by the
waiters. This emblem signifies the single cog-wheel which
actually drives the revolving floor and is worked by as
little as a two and a half h.p. motor."
Posted at the POST OFFICE
In the days when the Post Office was responsible for both
the postal and the telephone service, letters collected from
the Tower were franked "Posted at the POST OFFICE TOWER".
Books and Films
White Heat (1964-1970) by Dominic Sandbrook A history of
Britain in the Swinging Sixties includes the opening of the
Post Office Tower. The term 'White Heat' originates from
Harold Wilson's speech at the Labour Party Conference in
Scarborough on 1st October 1963... "The Britain that is
going to be forged in the white heat of this revolution will
be no place for restrictive practices or for outdated
methods on either side of industry". Wilson spoke of a
revolution of science of which the Post Office Tower was
later cited as a fine example of such technological
developments of the period.
Sixties London - Photographs by Dorothy Bohm With texts by
Amanda Hopkinson and Ian Jeffrey Contains 17 black & white
and 30 colour photos of London in the Sixties. ISBN: 0 85331
|Note: White Heat page 758 reference 5... On the
revolving restaurant, see
<http://www.lightstraw.co.uk/ate/main/postofficetower/t60.html> website entirely devoted to the history of the tower.
DVD: Released in March 2006 Rank Organisation's 'Look at
Life' featured dining in style and included a five minute
film, 'Eating High', about the Post Office Tower in its
heyday. "Enjoy a panoramic view in the revolving restaurant
at the Post Office Tower."
Interesting facts: The diners' meals were prepared in the
kitchen on the 36th floor and were transported to the 34th
floor by mini serving lifts. The wine cellar was located in
the basement. A service charge of four shillings (20p) was
made to cover travel in the main lifts.
DVD: Smashing Time...
Rita Tushingham and Lynn Redgrave - Two girls go stark Mod*!
Smashing Time (1967) was a film in which two northern lasses
move to Swinging London in the 1960s. The film closes with a
sequence at the 'Topofthetower'. Also starred Michael York, Anna
Quayle, Irene Handl, Ian Carmichael, Jeremy Lloyd, Toni Palmer
and Murray Melvin.
Note: *By 1964, the majority of British youth was split into two
factions called Mods and Rockers who each dressed in their own
1967 - THERE IS ROOM AT THE TOP IN THE ENGINEERING DIVISION OF THE GPO
Dave Harris writes: "I found this browsing some old newspapers. It
comes from the Bletchley District Gazette. Yes, of Bletchley Park fame.
It brought back memories. I joined eight years later than the advert in
1975. It was then Post Office Telecommunications in Bletchley. I was
really the last of the pre-computer engineers. No pagers, no computers
and mobiles were huge green caravans. I did 6 courses as a youth and
TOIT (Technical Officer In Training) at
Bletchley Park. How I long for those old days when people
actually enjoyed going to work!"
We require from you:-
1- 'O' Level standard in English, Maths, Physics and one
other subject so that you may continue your studies to
Ordinary National Certificate, Higher National Certificate,
Sandwich Course, A.M.I.E.E. or a Degree.
2- A desire to find out about and work with electronic and
electro-magnetic systems of communications.
3- Enthusiasm and ambition.
Those leaving school with the foregoing attributes are taken
into the Engineering Division between the ages of 16 to 18
1/2 to serve a three-year apprenticeship with salaries at 16
of £327, 17 of £395 and 18 of £441. During each year an
apprentice spends 14 weeks at a Technical College, 4 weeks
at a G.P.O. Training School and the remainder on practical
work in the various departments of the Engineering Division.
At 21 an apprentice can be appointed to a Technical Officer
on a salary scale of £847-£1,196 with ample opportunities
for further promotion right to the top.
|Vacancies will shortly occur at Bedford,
Bletchley, Hemel Hempstead, Luton and Stevenage. Interviews are
conducted during the Easter holidays and successful candidates
commence in the following September. Further information can be
obtained from: The Telephone Manager, C13/3 Telephone House,
Bedford. Telephone No. Bedford 52377.
Step back in telecoms time to the bygone days of the Post
Image: Still from GPO film
"The Post Office Tower London" 32 page booklet priced 'two shillings and
sixpence' designed and produced by Holdens Press Bureau Ltd for GPO.
Printed by W.S Cowell Ltd, Butter Market, Ipswich.