London’s iconic BT Tower, a prominent fixture in the city’s skyline, almost faced a devastating fate due to a shocking act of violence that occurred several decades ago. This incident, which took place in the early 1970s, could have had far-reaching consequences that altered the tower’s history.
The Narrow Escape:
While the BT Tower, originally known as the Post Office Tower, has stood as a symbol of London since its construction in 1965, its existence could have been cut short in 1971. During that year, an unidentified terrorist group, widely believed to be either the Irish Republican Army (IRA) or the Angry Brigade, targeted the tower with an explosive attack.
The Explosive Event:
On the ominous date of October 31, at the early hour of 4:30 AM, a colossal explosion shook the tower. The blast originated from the 33rd floor, causing a substantial section of the tower’s one-foot-thick walls to be ripped apart. It was later revealed that a bomb had been strategically planted in a restroom located on the lowest level of the public viewing galleries.
The force of the explosion was so immense that its effects reached beyond the tower itself. Cars and buildings situated up to 400 yards away from the blast site suffered damage. Reports from the time indicated that residents were jolted awake from their slumber by the unexpected tremors caused by the explosion.
Unveiling the Culprit:
After the attack, a phone call was received by the police, purportedly from a man affiliated with the “Kilburn Battalion” of the IRA, claiming responsibility for the incident. A senior detective, speaking to the BBC at that time, opined that the attack bore the hallmarks of the IRA due to its professional execution.
Despite diligent investigations, the identity of the perpetrators behind the bombing remains shrouded in mystery to this day. In the aftermath of the attack, the tower’s restaurant and viewing galleries were temporarily closed to the public. Eventually, the restaurant ceased its operations in 1980. Presently, the refurbished restaurant area serves as an occasional venue for corporate events.
The story of the BT Tower’s near-catastrophe serves as a reminder of a dark chapter in its history. The tower’s endurance in the face of a potentially catastrophic event stands as a testament to its resilience and the enduring spirit of London. While the identity of those responsible for the attack remains unresolved, the tower continues to stand tall, an indomitable presence in the city’s ever-evolving landscape.