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The Top of the Tower Restaurant – Dining Amongst a Concordian Reaching for the Stars: Wanderings 21/26

The Top of the Tower restaurant was a rotating restaurant on top of the BT Tower communications tower in central London. Formerly known as the GPO Tower, the Post Office Tower and the Telecom Tower the restaurant was open from 1966 to 1980 and was designed to fully rotate once every 23 minutes.

Viewed today it seems like part of an optimistic boundary pushing futurism that also created the supersonic passenger airliner Concorde which was operational from 1969 to 2003 – a sort of terrestrial orientated reaching for the stars.

The restaurant also had a decided “Dinner with the ambassador” sense of swank or even fantasy to it (something which Peter Strickland explores in relation to British department stores in previous decades in his film In Fabric) and photographs of it when it was open and related brochures are very much a snapshot of a particular era’s high life.

The following is a quote from a wonderfully evocative short British Pathé film on the Top of the Tower, which provides an excellent time capsule snapshot of the restaurant, its atmosphere and aesthetic:

“Offering you a visual menu that takes your breath – but not your appetite – away… this is a really exciting kind of epicurean thrill. When you eat here they give you a certificate of orbit to say you’ve been above and around the houses two and a half times in every hour… it’s high life par excellence. You’ve really come up in the world here, where you’re always moving with the times and the whole of London is yours on a plate.”

Curiously and as something of a contrast to the restaurant’s creation of an air of sophistication it was run by Butlins, a company which at the time were better known for budget friendly seaside holiday camps.

In this post are a selection of images from the restaurant, an advert, pages from some of the menus and brochures and so on… here’s to luncheon, dinner and supper amongst previous decade’s reaching for the stars (!)



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