back to article BT Tower is just a relic? Wrong: It relays 18,000hrs of telly daily

The Post Office Tower in London, adorned with microwave dishes and resembling a gigantic Star Trek gadget, symbolised the UK's white heat for technology in the 1960s. The tower in 2009 before the dishes were removed (Credit: David Castor) In an era of transistor radios as a fashion accessory, the space race, and the arrival …

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"resembling a gigantic Star Trek gadget"

But the Sonic Screw Driver is from Dr Who.

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Re: "resembling a gigantic Star Trek gadget"

The then brand-new Post Office Tower (as I will always call it) starred in the Doctor Who story, The War Machines - where it hosted an evil supercomputer. Hold on... Joe wasn't allowed into some parts of the building.

I bloody love that tower. For something quite so big it does hide itself quite well at street level, you only get the occasional glimpse until you're really quite close and then it is towering over you.

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Anonymous Coward

Sell it to

The Americans, someone there will buy it......

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they’re wary of cutting someone off unexpectedly

Really? Since when?

But more seriously - I'm glad the tower is still in use.

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Great article

it's really interesting to find out a bit about something as iconic as the BT tower. Just one thought though... the £3.28 admission fee would be nearer £50 these days if you add inflation into the mix.

(http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/education/Pages/inflation/calculator/flash/default.aspx)

Suddenly the shard doesn't look quite as expensive...

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: £50

I don't have to hand how Joe calculated that figure, but according to the National Archives, 1965's 4 shillings = 2005's £2.57. So Joe's £3.28 isn't far off the mark.

C.

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Re: Great article

> Just one thought though... the £3.28 admission fee would be nearer £50 these days

> if you add inflation into the mix

£3.28 IS the inflation-adjusted price. The original price was 4 shillings, i.e. 20p.

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Pint

Re: £50

I think Joe used the same BoE site; £1 in 1965 equates to £16.39 in 2012 money, so four bob (20p) equals £3.28. My first legal pint (c. 1970) cost 1/11 so I could have got two pints for the cost of the trip up the Tower, whereas £3.28 will barely buy you a pint in London today.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: £50

4/- (£3.28) feels right - we went up the Tower not long after it opened. As a schoolboy on our radio club's annual coach visit to London for the RSGB Exhibition - that would have felt affordable for a special treat. My weekly pocket money then was 1/- (5p). The Tube fares were still only old coppers to shuttle between the war surplus junk shops in Tottenham Court Road, Praed Street, and Edgware Road. In Proops I bought a short length of that new magic material - fibre optic cable.

When walking along Greek Street and Lisle Street the older members of the club formed an outrider escort to shield the teenagers from the strip club touts and the ladies standing in doorways .

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Pint

Re: £50 / Shard Avoidance.

A trip up Monument costs something like £3:50 at the moment, and gives a fantastic view out over London. Unfortunately there are no high speed lifts to wisk you to the top, it's 311 steps!

I believe you can visit the Bar at the top of Tower 42 (the Natwest tower) for the price of a drink, thus the pint glass icon.

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Facepalm

Re: £50 / Shard Avoidance.

And that is why i should never post something up when i have a hangover.... reading it again i see that the 4 shillings reference is there and even i know that is 20 (new) p and so nearer £3.50.

Oops.

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Re: £50

Yes. Whatever happened to Proops?

(and Gamages, come to think of it)

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Pint

Re: £50 / Shard Avoidance.

The main reason to avoid the Shard, as well as the BT Tower and to a lesser extent the Wheel (although that is good to go on) is because you want to see them, they are part of the skyline,

I suggest something like the Heron Tower, it’s got a bar at the top

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Re: £50

Proops Brothers are still around:

http://www.proopsbrothers.com/history.html

(Bought some very nice box jointed stainless pliers and cutters a few years back for £not much)

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Engine room and war rooms? It's a spaceship!

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Given it's mobility constraints, I would say a space ship designed by a government committee :-)

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@J.G.Harston

I thought that was Kings Reach Tower (Original home of 2000AD and Earth Base of Tharg the Mighty!)

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Happy

"Engine room and war rooms? It's a spaceship!"

You've never read the surreal comic novel "T-minus tower" then?

It's the rotating restaurant.

Instant artificial gravity.

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Does it use bistromath?

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tall buildings

A fair few of London's tall buildings are clustered together but the best views can be had from the isolated ones.

I was fortunate enough to go up Queens Tower at Imperial College (all the way to the roof unofficially) and the views were amazing. Both should be preserved as iconic in their own way.

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Re: tall buildings

Despite being scared of heights I've been on top of Millbank Tower, BBC East Tower (next to TVC), Barbican Tower, Swiss RE (Gherkin) and The Shard (*cough* didn't pay *cough*). But I've never made it all the way up BT Tower despite having visited the broadcast facilities more times than I dare to count.

The Shard is very impressive, more so for looking down than for looking across.

BBC East Tower was (at the time) more isolated than most and intriguing to see the vista.

The Gherkin might be architecturally special but the view is modest in the context of the surroundings.

Millbank Tower is most interesting for its neighbours

Barbican: the roof layout doesn't help those of us who are scared of heights.

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Unhappy

"but you can get an idea of the view here"

Argh! WTF?!? You drag the view left, but it scrolls RIGHT!

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Must be inspired by Apples "natural gesture" scrolling, the absolute first thing I change after rebuilding a Mac.

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"You drag the view left, but it scrolls RIGHT"

Yes it feels strange that you send the mouse in one direction and it behaves more like an aeroplane than your usual desktop. Cracking panorama though - well worth the momentary mental disconnect.

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The first page I thought the register had gone all urbex

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Stop

Not that I watch it (I kinda do... sssssshhhh! :D ) but I remember a year or two ago, a broadcast of X Factor was delayed by around 20-40 mins because the power to BT Tower's was knocked out.

In fact... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/14/bt_xfactor_outage/

I hope they upgraded the power coverage since.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry, but....

Down voted....

Stopping X-Factor one down vote at a time.....

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Happy

Re: Sorry, but....

HAHA fair enough.

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Sod the Shard, I'd happily pay £24.95 for a proper tour around a real iconic building.

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The Shard

Anyone else think that the Shard should really have the Eye of Sauron held in its spiky bits?

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Re: The Shard

Nah. Use green lighting, a few baubles, and stick a fairy on top. It's a giant Shardmas tree,

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Re: The Shard

Nah, illuminate the glass part at the top in bright red, project a Brotherhood of Nod symbol on the side... Instant obelisk!

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Devil

Re: The Shard

It does, but its just a step out of phase, and therefore we mortals can not see it.

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Re: The Shard

I dunno if they did it last year, but the year before, when it was being built, they put coloured lights in the windows so from a distance, it actually did look like a giant Christmas tree!

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Re: The Shard

When the Shard was still under construction in (I think) December 2011 the combination of incomplete top, the horizontal anchoring of the construction crane and lots of Christmas lights, plus lager made it look surprisingly like a dalek.

Is it deliberately designed as a pyramid to match the hospital next door which is obviously a camel?

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Alert

Claw marks

But what about the giant kitten!?

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Joke

Interesting article

very interesting and enjoyable.

for the next one can I suggest that someone takes you up the OXO tower

someone had to!

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Sir

"Wing said all signals are always sent via two geographically diverse paths to customers"

Are they still touting that old bullshit.

They've been selling this for years and occasionally still come a cropper when some tit on the underground cuts through a bearer cable, then all those supposed 'diverse routes' suddenly seem to go down at once - odd that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sir

Sure, one signal goes down one path, the other about 10 mm away in the cable. They're geographically diverse paths!

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Re: Sir

I also remember when the 'special' tower video facilities switch decided to go haywire and 20% of the routes remapped themselves randomly, all sorts of chaos ensued and they took an absolute age to 'reboot' the control systems. I think it happened more than once in my 5 years using them.

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Re: Sir

Yup, still touting it.

And they go amazingly quiet when you start demanding to know the exact paths taken in order to ensure they're not running 2 circuits down the same road or duct.

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Boffin

telecoms your granddad would recognise...

Young whippersnappers!

The BBC used a lot of GPO technology and was built on those 'christmas tree' terminations; they were there in Broadcasting House until it was rebuilt and the old control room went away; they were there in Bush House when it closed; and I recall wiring to them in Cardiff in 2010.

These days it's all Krone IDC blocks - klunk and you're done, no worries about hot work permits and unearthed soldering irons!

/me suddenly remembers, er, he is a grandfather...

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As an American...

I was impressed when I first saw BT tower from the streets of London. I have seen many comms towers in the US, but nothing as practical looking as this multi-use structure. I'm surprised we don't see more comms equipment on large buildings in the US. There are some, but I feel there is a missed opportunity for some architectural aesthetic value. I think BT tower would fit in with any of our major cities.

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Re: "I think BT tower would fit in with any of our major cities."

pssssst, do you want to buy it? Can do you a good deal like, and am willing to throw in the New Scotland Yard building as a bonus. (The coat is in no way shady).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As an American...

There are a few examples, some of which are pretty well disguised. Two examples from Minneapolis, MN that come to mind are the old NW Bell/US West/Qwest/Centurylink building:

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

The Capella Tower (nee US Bank building) also comes to mind (the "halo" is primarily used to support antennae)

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

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Re: "I think BT tower would fit in with any of our major cities."

Buy it? Hmm, might be out of my price range, but tell you what. I'm willing to trade you one of our bridges in Brooklyn for the tower. Toss in a couple jars of Marmite and you've got a deal.

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Re: Toss in a couple jars of Marmite!

Foreign Marmite, (and variants), taste like sick. No Deal.

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Len
Holmes

Telly, and the wireless

As of April 2012 the BT Tower is also a major transmitter for five of the UK's DAB muxes.

BBC National DAB 12B at 800W

D1 National 11D at 800W

London 1 12C at 800W

London 2 12A at 710W

London 3 11B at 800W

http://www.ukfree.tv/dabtx.php?tx=TQ292819

http://www.radiocentre.org/latest-industry-news/london-gets-dab-signal-boost

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