When visiting any city, I love to find somewhere high up to view the cityscape. I find that it helps you to get your bearings and to seek out interesting places to visit. For panoramic views of Liverpool, you need to head to Radio City Tower, or officially St John’s Beacon.
Panoramic views of Liverpool
OK, confession time. This year was the first time that I have been up the St John’s Beacon. Even though I lived on the Wirral, regularly frequenting Liverpool, for 19 years! Part of this reason is that it was closed down when it was a revolving restaurant due to health and safety; secondly due to it being converted to the Radio City Tower and thirdly because it was probably not that interesting when I was younger. You know the story!
The reason we ended up there was because we decided to be tourists for the weekend. We took to the streets with an Urban Ramble and returned to do some proper sightseeing. Which, included the hunt for panoramic views of Liverpool!
The entrance to Radio City Tower is rather underwhelming and unimpressive. This is down to the fact that it was originally built as a chimney for the ventilation for the St john’s precinct. Which would explain the chimney like stature.
A bit of history
For a rather plain-looking structure, it has a bit of a weird history. Having started life in 1969 designed as an outlet for waste from the shopping centre with a revolving restaurant at the top it soon realised a rather different path. It seems that health and safety laws had different plans for the building. Due to new legislation, the building was never used as a ventilation shaft meaning the technology built into the tower was never used. The restaurant, however, was used until it too succumbed to heath and safety closure.
This is all I could find of St. John’s Tower Restaurant 1969 (facebook) pic.twitter.com/Y7RCxltYmO
— Kathleen (@oldpicposter) June 13, 2017
The restaurant only lasted a mere 18 months before it’s closure. After the fire prevention measures were addressed, it reopened in 1983 as a Buck Roger’s theme restaurant. But that only lasted a short while too, due to the popularity of the TV show waning and a lack of business.
The one thing St John’s Beacon retained, at least until 2007, was the title of Liverpool’s tallest building. Just inching past the Liver Building. From 2007, the title was snatched by West Tower, but you still get icredible panoramic views of Liverpool from Radio City Tower due to the location.
The final and most current iteration of the tower came after Radio City bought it for studios. They did a massive renovation at a cost of £5m in 1999 and opened the tower to visitors.
Visiting Radio City Tower
The central location of the tower makes it a great way to take in panoramic views of Liverpool and on a clear day you can also see over to Blackpool and Snowdonia! At 138m high, it is not the tallest os UK buildings but you can certainly see a fair distance.
Growing up on the Wirral, I have fond memories of Snelly in the morning while on our way to school in Birkenhead. It was fun to head into the home of my childhood favourite radio station (anyone else remember the Midnight Love Hour?)
Panoramic Views of Liverpool
It is really quite cheap to go up the tower. For £6.50 each we had our tickets in hand and waited to go up the lift. I personally find that the lift is part of the experience. Saying that, it was quite an ordinary lift so I didn’t take photos.
At the top you enter the slanted world of the St John’s Beacon viewing platform. The windows lean outwards to the top which can be pretty weird at first. Once you adjust though, you will find yourself peering down at the ant sized people walking through the square below.
From high up, you can look over the city to spot the highlights you might like to visit while you’re there. There are some very prominent features of the skyline including the cathedrals and of course the famous Liver Buildings and Three Sisters. We found that it was handy looking at the information provided in the leaflet and the boards. Many of the sights can be found in the Urban Rambles walk, which offers more insight into the architecture too.
The information signs flowing around the panoramic viewing platform added some extra information about the structure, history and views. It also had a bit of characteristic Scouse humour, which of course I loved!
If you are visiting the tower at the right time, you might even see a live broadcast going on in the studios. We didn’t time it right for our trip, but it was fun to peer through the windows at the production equipment.
Panoramic views of Liverpool
It might not be a true 360 panoramic view of Liverpool, but you certainly see some of the best bits! We spent around half an hour, maybe more, looking out over the rooftops of the city; watching the people bustle below and the ferries bringing people in from the Wirral. It is surprising how much time I can spend just looking down on a city, learning about its fabric and patchwork history.
I would highly recommend a visit, whether you are new to the city or a long-term resident. In fact, I have suggested that my Liverpool born and bred parents take a trip over for a visit too. They haven’t been either! Which nicely brings me back to my point about being a tourist in your own city.
Tourist in your own city
When you live somewhere, it all becomes familiar. You stroll through life doing your routine things and getting on with it. We often look for escapes and head out to other places at the weekend rather than checking out the places near to home. My aim for the next few years is to visit as many of the local places as I can. The North West is a fab place to live and has so many great places to visit. Not to mention a lot to learn!
So will you join me?
Get out where you live and become a tourist in your own city/town/village and see what you discover.
I’d love to read any posts you write or share your experiences below!
You never know when I might be looking for tips on places to visit where you live.
Panoramic Views of Liverpool from Radio City Tower / St John’s Beacon
1 Houghton St, Liverpool L1 1RL