From Victorian engineering feats to today’s sky piercing mega towers, come with us on a trip around Britain’s top 10 towers. Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth, England This 170 metre-tall tower resembles a billowing sail fluttering elegantly over the South Coast of England. Taller then Big Ben, Blackpool Tower and the London Eye, it offers far reaching views over Portsmouth, the Channel and the Isle of Wight. Its View Deck 1 incorporates the largest glass floor in Europe where you can ‘walk on air’.
The Gherkin, London, England The real name of this sci-fi cucumber is 30 St Mary Axe, but its affectionate nickname looks here to stay. Designed by celeb architect, Norman Foster from interlocking glass diamonds, it’s 180 metres tall – that’s more than three times the height of Niagara Falls. And, despite its rounded form, it uses only one piece of curved glass – the lens at the top of the building.
Blackpool Tower, Blackpool, England Opened to the public in 1894, the Blackpool Tower was inspired by the Eiffel Tower that was opened in Paris in 1889. Constructed from steel and iron it soars above the seaside at a height of 158 metres and has a ballroom, a circus, an adventure playground and even a dungeon!
Perrott’s Folly, Birmingham, England This brick-built folly, constructed in 1758, is unremarkable but for the fact that the young J. R. R. Tolkien grew up in its shadow on nearby Stirling Road in Birmingham. Perrott’s Folly and the nearby Waterworks Tower were the inspiration for the two towers after which his second Lord of the Rings book is named. Today the tower is being carefully restored and hosts regular events and exhibitions.
National Wallace Monument, Stirling, Scotland A must for those interested in Scottish history, this vast, craggy tower emerging from lush forest commemorates Scotland’s famous hero, William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace. See his fearsome broadsword, dramatic reconstructions of his struggle for Scottish freedom and look out across the gorgeous countryside from the ‘crown’ atop the tower.
Castle Coch, near Cardiff, Wales In a land of castles, it takes something a wee bit special to stand out from the crowd. This former 13th-century wreck, just west of Cardiff, was completely rebuilt by William Burges in the 1870s and the results embody the ultimate Victorian fairytale fantasy. Castell Coch’s Disney-style turrets poke mysteriously from a wooded hillside and the interiors are lavish, multicoloured and hopelessly romantic.
St Michael’s Tower, Glastonbury, England Glastonbury is knee-deep in supernatural associations. It stands at the junction of ley lines, the supposed mystical motorways of spiritual energy and is said to be the final resting place of King Arthur. And slap-bang in the middle of this new age Eden is Glastonbury Tor, topped by St Michael’s Tower. Nobody can quite separate the facts from legend, but one thing’s for sure – the views across three counties from the top are gorgeous.
Glasgow Tower, Scotland At 127 metres tall, the Glasgow Tower is currently the tallest tower in Scotland. It holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest tower in the world which is capable of rotating 360 degrees. It turns into the prevailing wind so Glaswegians can always tell which way the wind is blowing! At the time of writing it is closed for repair.
Big Ben, London, England This one really needs no introduction. Big Ben is an icon of British democracy: it's the clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster, the home of English politics. Technically, Big Ben is, in fact, the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg) and strikes out the hours over the capital. To visit the tower you have to be a UK resident and apply in advance through your Member of Parliament.
The Church of St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield, England This 14th-century church in Chesterfield is instantly recognisable for its twisting crooked spire. Corkscrewing into the heavens its shape is said to be caused by the absence of cross-bracing in the spire and the use of green timber. We prefer the traditional explanation that the spire was so amazed when a virgin was married in the church that it tried to spin round to get a better look.
Church of the Twisted Spire