BBC and BT Tower



Oh man, I'm pretty stoked getting to go up the BT Tower! It was the last great building in London that I really wanted to go up and haven't been able to, mainly because it's not open to the public at all.

Fortunately, I was invited up for a personal guided tour!

But, before we went up the BT Tower, I got a tour of the building below it, which is a massive TV switching centre as well as telephone exchange.

Here's some of the video editing suites:

And we also got to watch the beginning of the A-Team in one of the sound rooms, was pretty impressive! The door to the room is really thick and blocks virtually all noise from escaping, which was good considering the volume we had the movie up at :-)

Here's one of the many corridors in the BT server room (which holds all the BBC editing suite gear as well):

Here's a view down part of the middle of the server room, pictures simply can't show the massive size of the place:

Opening up one of the server room doors:

Here's all the audio wires from the editing suites:

And the power supply for the server room:

Next up, was going up the BT Tower itself! It's 177 Meter's high and I was also able to get outside in the area immediately below the "BT" logo you can see below (which is above the private restaurant).

The lift travels at 1,400 feet per min, one of the fastest in Europe, covers the 35 stories very quickly:

Goes up 35 stories:

The lift itself is quite cool, it's twice the height of a normal lift, because any scaffolding or whatever gear you need has to come up it.

An editing room right at the top of the tower!

And out to the deck which is exposed to the elements, was damn cold at 1:30am when we were up there.

The great thing is, even if you are invited up to the private board room/dining room (the floor below) this area is usually out of bounds!

And the magnificent view:

Close-up of Canary Wharf:

Here's the level down in the boardroom/restaurant. The whole level revolves around slowly.

After that, it was back down to the bottom and in to the BT telephone exchange area.

As with the BBC server room, photos don't come close to showing how massive this room was:

There were about a dozen rows of wiring like this in the room:

Now this is pretty cool too, it's the machine that makes all the dial tones, engaged, tones, etc for the phones in central London! There's two of em, bottom one is a backup:

This wheel turns around and the lumps on the spindle create the "beep, beep, beep" tones, the "boooop, boooop" of being engaged, etc:

A video of it in action shows it off properly, see if you can work out which switch does which noise :-)

The BT Tower, I've been up it and you haven't, ha ha!


By Tony Baker: email