Post Office tower to be preserved as a listed building

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The Independent Online

The Post Office Tower, the 620ft central London monument to a bygone era of telecommunications, has been included among eight communication structures recommended for listed status, English Heritage announced yesterday.

Built in 1961, it was designed to transmit radio waves for the telephone network to overcome the difficulty of laying cables in London. But the building – officially the "British Telecom Communication Tower" – became equally well known as the nerve centre of BBC-TV telethons; for its Top of the Tower restaurant and vertiginous viewing galleries, which were closed in 1971 amid fears of terrorist attacks.

The tower's facilities were unable to keep pace with changes in telecommunications and it was mothballed prior to refurbishment for corporate entertainment. Dubbed "the first modernist phallus in British architecture", the building, designed by the late Eric Bedford, has provoked reverence and revulsion in equal measure.

It has been earmarked by English Heritage as part of an ongoing programme to preserve post-war structures, including pubs and cinemas.

Dr Martin Cherry, the head of programmes at English Heritage, said: "The need for rapid and effective global communication was the defining characteristic of the last century.... All the buildings English Heritage has identified are outstanding architectural landmarks of their type and illustrate the changing technology of the last 50 years."

The list of buildings recommended for preservation includes the ITV Broadcasting Tower on Emley Moor in Yorkshire. The concrete structurewas erected between 1969 and 1971 and combines "perfect technical performance with architectural elegance".

The other inclusions for listing are The Equatorial Telescopes, in Herstmonceux, East Sussex; the first 20th century lighthouse in Dungeness, Kent; a coastal navigation training station, in Fleetwood, Lancashire; the transmission centre for the Telstar satellite on Goonhilly Downs, Cornwall; the Police Telecommunications Tower in Aykley Heads, Durham and the Cargo Agents Warehouse at Heathrow airport.