bt tower


This is the sketchbook for the BT Tower. Here you can see how the illustration was created from original photo to final print. You'll also find out some more about the building itself and its history.

The BT Tower or the Post Office Tower?

It's easy to get confused. The BT tower has had many names over the years. It's owned by the BT Group, but has been previously known as the Post Office Tower, the London Telecom Tower and the British Telecom Tower.

Once the tallest building in the UK

The main structure is 177 metres (581 ft) tall, with a further section of aerial rigging which means that if you're slightly geeky about these things the total height is actually 189 metres (620 ft). In 1962, when it was still under construction, the BT Tower overtook St Paul's Cathedral to become the tallest building in London. When it was completed it overtook the Millbank Tower (which had been constructed faster) to once again become the tallest building in both London and the United Kingdom. It's not anymore though. The titles held until 1980, when the NatWest Tower was built.

A microwave tower

The tower was commissioned by the General Post Office. Its primary purpose was to support the microwave aerials which were then used to carry telecommunications traffic from London to the rest of the country.

A prominent London landmark

The BT tower quickly became a London landmark. Even during construction it could be seen from almost anywhere in London.

The tower was designed by the architects of the Ministry of Public Building and Works. The chief architects were Eric Bedford and G. R. Yeats. The building is concrete clad in glass, a design that was typical for its time. The narrow cylindrical shape was chosen because of the requirements of the communications aerials. The construction cost about £2.5 million and the tower was officially opened on 8 October 1965.

The rotating restaurant and the IRA

From the start the BT tower had a rotating restaurant on the top floor. It made one revolution every 22 minutes and was a pretty popular place for diners. However on 31 October 1971 a bomb exploaded in the roof of the men's toilets at the restaurant. The responsibility was claimed by the IRA.

After that the restaurant was closed to the public for security reasons and public access to the building ceased in 1981.

But the tower is still in use, and is the site of a major UK communications hub. Microwave links have been replaced by subterranean fibre optic links, but the former are still in use at the tower.

Our illustration

Here you've been able to see our design process of the BT Tower print. As with the other illustrations Gerry starts out with taking a photo that is traced on a computer to make the final print.

The final version of our BT Tower print is available as a the t-shirt in navy and blue and black and gold , as a sweatshirt in navy and black and as a signed and numbered silk screen print.

How to get to the BT Tower

60 Cleveland St, London W1T 4JZ

The BT tower is pretty easy to get to in central London. Goodge street and Great Portland Street tube stations are both close.