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The BBC's Crystal Palace Television Tower (VHS)


Price: £5.00


PLEASE NOTE: This version is a VHS video

At the northern end of the Crystal Palace site in Sydenham stands one of the greatest engineering achievements of post-war Britain – The Crystal Palace Television Tower.

Until the disastrous fire of 1936 Sir Joseph Paxton’s huge glass Palace stood on the site.

There is something for both engineers and historians in the film.

For lovers of the graceful elegance of television towers the film shows the design, construction and ‘topping-out’ of the 720ft tall 120ft wide tower.

For aficionados of Crystal Palace history, views can be seen of the terraces, statuary and the basement areas of the Palace itself.

The tower began operating on 21 December 1957 and since then has provided most of London and Southeast England with television.

The film (known affectionately as the ‘Phoenix Tower’) was originally produced in 16mm format by the company erecting the tower – British Insulated Callenders Cables. The company was broken up some years ago and split between the Pirelli and Balfour Beatty Groups of companies. The film was distributed by the now dissolved Viscom Audio Visual Library.

Never before available on video and from April 1964 only rarely shown to small numbers of serious enthusiasts, the video was produced from the only copy known to exist.

The Phoenix Tower was specially shown by the BBC as one of the test transmissions in the immediate run-up to the opening of BBC2 between January and April 1964. Colour test films were shown at 09.15, two films from 10.05 to 11.00, 12.00 and 13.00, and 15.00 to 16.00. Then there was a batch of three or four films shown from 17.00 to 20.00 (14.00 onwards on Saturdays), which always ended with a feature film up to the close of tests at 20.00. The Phoenix Tower was shown on three occasions the first on Saturday 14th March 1964 and it's final showing was Monday 13th April 1964.

The Crystal Palace Foundation gratefully acknowledges the support in this venture of John Soderburg and Peter Farrell of Pirelli International Ltd (now Prysmian Cables & Systems Ltd).

UK, 1957, Black & white & colour

39 minutes

This video will not be available in shops.

This film is also sold as part of "The Pleasure Garden & The Phoenix Tower" DVD.