Tuesday, 25 June 2013



Souvenir Brochure (1969)

I'm standing on the Post Office Tower 
So I can see all there is to see 
--Paul Weller, 'Life from a Window' (1977) 

Through the Post Office Tower 
Travel miles and miles of copper wire 
--Fake Teak 'The Post Office Tower' (2010) 

I made this bomb for the GPO 
To blow them all to Hell
--Cressida 'Goodbye Post Office Tower Goodbye' (1971)

The Post Office Tower (now BT Tower) in London's Fitzrovia was opened by Harold Wilson on 8 October 1965. It is 177 metres (581 ft) tall, with a further section of aerial rigging bringing the total height to 189 metres (620 ft). It's been my favourite London building since I visited it as a child in 1969.

An excellent blog about the Tower including some videos and images from the menu of its famous revolving restaurant can be found at The Great Wen.

This posting is about the souvenir brochure, published by the GPO in 1969. It is 32 pages, 296 x 208mm. The design and authorship is uncredited, but it is mostly b&w and includes some really nice period duotone illustrations: very 1960s. I acquired my copy during my visit to the Tower in 1969. My parents paid around 2s 6d for it. 

From the introduction:

The Post Office Tower is the tallest building in London and its finest vantage point. But London's outstanding landmark is a symbol of the modern Post Office; a science-based industry using the most refined techniques in the telephone, teleprinter, television and computer communication so necessary for modern society. It is a focal point of communication channels from all quarters of Great Britain and from overseas. 

Its height is essential. It must carry aerials high above all obstructions to provide a clear path for about 150,000 simultaneous circuits, carrying telephone conversations, television programmes and computer data between London and the rest of the country. The alternative to using these clear radio paths would have been the disruption and expense of major cable-laying works through the crowded London streets and out into the country beyond.  

The Tower itself, which was designed by the Ministry of Public Building and Works, is a triumph of modern architecture and engineering, a unique structure in which more than 13,000 tons of steel, concrete and glass have been shaped to meet the needs of progress. Slender and practical, it symbolises the technical and architectural skills of this modern age. Such a tall landmark would meet people's natural desire to climb and look about them. So, near the top, there are viewing platforms from which one may see London and beyond laid out almost as a map, with huge office blocks looking like matchbox buildings. A high-speed lift carries the visitor skywards at a thousand feet a minute. There is a revolving restaurant where the diner can enjoy an ever-changing view. Why was the Tower built? How was it built and how does it work? The story is told in words and pictures on the pages that follow.

Here are some pages from the brochure.

The centre pages open up to show a panoramic photograph of London - the view from the platform at the top of the Tower.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful that you still have it and have shared it with others.



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