Radio City Tower

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Radio City Tower
St John's Beacon from Heathfield Street.jpg
General information
TypeRadio station
LocationLiverpool, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates53°24′23″N 2°58′55″W / 53.40639°N 2.98194°W / 53.40639; -2.98194Coordinates: 53°24′23″N 2°58′55″W / 53.40639°N 2.98194°W / 53.40639; -2.98194
Antenna spire148 m (486 ft)
Top floor138 m (453 ft)
Technical details
Floor count6 floors (The basement, Reception area, the bunker, the first floor, the second floor and the rooftop.)
Design and construction
ArchitectJames A. Roberts Associates - Birmingham
Structural engineerScott Wilson Group (both original construction and refurbishment)

Radio City Tower (also known as St. John's Beacon) is a radio and observation tower in Liverpool, England, built in 1969 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It was designed by James A. Roberts Associates in Birmingham. It is 138 metres (452 ft) tall, and is the second tallest free-standing building in Liverpool and the 32nd tallest in the United Kingdom.[2]

When considering the height of the building, however, it has a 10m long antenna on the roof, making it the tallest structure in Liverpool (including antennas).


St. John's Beacon (1969 – 1999)[edit]

Near the top of the tower was a revolving restaurant, the facade and floor of the restaurant revolving as one unit, while the roof of the restaurant was used as an observation platform for visitors. There are 558 stairs up to the top, and two lift shafts which reach the top in 30 seconds.

The tower is structurally independent of the adjacent shopping centre, with a simple foundation onto sandstone. The foundation is 60 feet in diameter, 17 feet deep and begins 40 feet below Houghton Street. It has a tapering shaft that was built using slip-formed concrete. The crows nest structure at the top was then added after the shaft was formed.

On Saturday 23 April 1977, there was a sponsored abseil from the viewing level of the tower. It was done as part of the celebrations associated with the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in that year. It was done by Birkenhead-based group, The Peninsula Outdoor Pursuits Club with some assistance from others. The abseil, and an earlier practice session were filmed for BBC Look North (the Manchester-based predecessor to North West Tonight), with BBC reporter, Alistair Macdonald, who abseiled, both in the practice, and also in the full descent. Details of the practice were broadcast on Tuesday 19 April, and the descent itself was broadcast on Monday 25 April 1977.[3] The ropes used were donated by Edelrid ropes through the kind assistance of Caving Supplies of Buxton, who also loaned other necessary equipment. The abseil rope was secured to a section of Royal Navy destroyer hawser that was looped around the tower at the level of the viewing gallery cafe roof, with the loop extending through the railings of the viewing gallery, and hanging down to just below the point where the side of the restaurant bent back towards the tower. Each descent took almost half an hour and about 16 to 18 people went down. Two of those descending had intended to re-ascend, but the descents took too long, leaving no time for what would have been quite lengthy ascents. According to one of those who abseiled, "There were waitresses and a chef watching from the restaurant level, and staff of the shop, George Henry Lee's, on their shop roof looking up! Once clear of the base of the crows nest structure, there was a beautiful view as it was a clear sunny day."

The original restaurant closed in 1979 for health and safety issues. It was re-opened, with a reduced capacity and additional fire prevention measures, during the early 1980s. The restaurant was eventually re-fitted as a "Buck Rogers" space-themed restaurant in 1983, but closed again due to lack of business. After this the observation deck and the restaurant remained closed.

In the following years, the tower lay empty and derelict. Often dubbed an eyesore or a "White Elephant", an attempt to increase its attractiveness was made when blue "UFO style" neon strip lights were added to the perimeter of the tower in 1994 (later removed upon refurbishment).

Radio City Tower (1999 – present)[edit]

The tower was refurbished in 1999 at a cost of £5 million. It reopened as Radio City 96.7 (and Magic 1548) in August 2000. The outdoor observation deck which had been located on the roof of the restaurant was transformed into a second floor; this now holds offices and conference rooms for the radio station. The studios are on the lower floor that used to be the restaurant. The original revolving structure and machinery were left intact during the refurbishment. Brackets were added to lock the moving structure in place.

The refurbishment added an advertising framework at the top of the tower designed for both a fabric banner and illuminated light boxes. However, advertisements have only appeared infrequently, with Smirnoff and the Ford Motor Company being among the companies to have displayed advertisements there. In 2008 the framework was used for a banner during the European Capital of Culture celebrations. The roof is home to the local Digital Audio Broadcasting multiplex for Liverpool, but Radio City, Magic, and City Talk do not directly broadcast from the roof. The public are admitted to the viewing gallery daily, upon payment of an entry fee.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Royal Liver Building
Tallest Building in Liverpool
1965 – 2008
Succeeded by
West Tower