Spinnaker Tower
The Spinnaker Tower is a 170  m (557  ft 9  in)–high tower in Portsmouth, United Kingdom. It is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residestrnts from a selection of concepts. The tower, designed by local firm HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth's maritime history by being modeled after a sail. After several years of delays and cost overruns, it was opened on 18 October 2005.

The tower, at a height of 170  metres (557  feet 9  inches) above sea level, is 2½ times higher than Nelson's Column, making it the tallest accessible structure in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight, the Manhood Peninsula, and even the top of the racehill in Brighton on a very clear day. The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping steel arcs, which give the tower its spinnaker sail design. The steelwork was fabricated by Butterley Engineering. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 320 ° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours, and a viewing distance of 37  kilometres (23  miles). The highest of the three observation platforms, the crow's nest, has a wire mesh roof, allowing visitors to be in the elements. Windows extend to above head height, so it is not possible to get a view unobstructed by glass. The glass floor is the largest in Europe. The tower has a design lifetime of 80 years. The design is similar to the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, whose structure is a little less than twice as tall at 323 metres (1,059 ft 9 in).


Planning began in 1995, and construction began 2001, and was completed in mid-2005, due to repeated delays and extra funding requests by the builders Mowlem. This was six years later than the planned opening date of 1999, chosen to coincide with Millennium celebrations. The tower, originally called the Portsmouth Millennium Tower, was renamed the Spinnaker Tower. The project was over budget, with an overall cost of £35.6 million for the tower alone. Taxpayers were not meant to fund the tower, but Portsmouth City Council eventually contributed £11.1 million towards construction. In March 2004, Portsmouth Council's former leader Cllr Leo Madden resigned from leading the Labour Group on the Council after a highly critical report of the council's handling of the project and failure to exploit revenue opportunities, such as the Millennium. Barry Smith, the project's legal advisor, also retired after being suspended on full pay, mostly due to controversy over the contract with the builders, which at one point would have cost the council more to cancel than to complete. In 2009 as Tower Revenues drop the council has again lost out as its income is linked to the tower's profits which have fallen significantly in 2008/9 The tower has had a number of health and safety issues since opening, including large cracks beneath the observation deck and a malfunctioning external glass lift. Fathers 4 Justice campaigners and base jumpers have infiltrated the tower, leading to security concerns. The tower was dedicated on 16 October 2005 and opened two days later. On opening day, the Tower's project manager, David Greenhalgh, and representatives for Mowlem and Maspero were stranded in the tower's malfunctioning external lift (built by Maspero) for an hour and a half. Abseiling engineers were called to rescue them. Some, including the franchise's chief executive, felt it was rather fitting that these particular people were trapped. Once open, the tower attracted crowds in excess of expectations, despite only the internal lift working since opening, with over 600,000 people visiting the tower the first year. It is one of a number of observation towers around the world that have become popular, including Vancouver's Harbour Centre, Toronto's CN Tower, the UK's Blackpool Tower and Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower. In June 2006, the local press raised a concern that the tower may be forced to close. All public buildings in the UK require disabled access under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. With the external lift inoperative and only the internal lift for disabled access, the tower did not meet this requirement, and the tower operators could be sued under the act. This problem was rectified by investing in an evacuation chair, and training for staff to use it. In the event of evacuation, should the internal lift be inoperable, those unable to navigate the 570 steps can use the evacuation chair. The original date given for the external lift to be operational was the end of January 2007, although as of February 2010 the lift is not in service. The Spinnaker, being a southern landmark features on the BBC South Today news programme. It also features on ITV News. Visitor numbers are down year on year and tower management admit interest is starting to fade. However, in June 2009 Tower operators succeed in gaining permission for a free fall ride, despite criticism, to be attached to the Tower in an attempt to boost falling visitor numbers and revenue. In 2006, the tower won the RICS Project of the year award and the RICS Regeneration award.

Events held at the tower
  • The Magic Numbers played a live acoustic set at the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth on 20 February 2007.
  • The tower hosted the third of BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale's live annual 'tower broadcasts' on 21 September 2006, featuring Santos and The Plump DJs, following similar shows from the BT Tower, London and the Television Tower, Berlin.
  • Spinnaker Tower hosted one of the regional events for the BBC's Children in Need events in 2006. This involved the mascot of the event, Pudsey Bear, abseiling down the structure.
  • Blue Peter recorded the 2006 Book of the Year Award inside the tower.


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Building Activity

  • breadbin84@hotmail.co.uk
    breadbin84@hotmail.co.uk updated 5 media
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com
  • OpenBuildings
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    hqbq spinnaker tower geograph.org.uk 1255913
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  • James McElroy
    James McElroy commented
    If you have friends that live near the top of Ladywood house you can save a fortune. And the lifts work too.
    about 6 years ago via Mobile
  • OpenBuildings
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  • mike1869
    mike1869 commented
    about 7 years ago via iPhone
  • biggervern
    biggervern commented
    Instantly recognisable Portsmouth landmark.
    about 7 years ago via iPhone
  • andrew.flower
    andrew.flower commented
    about 7 years ago via iPhone
  • fenster
    fenster commented
    Not a very constructive comment.
    about 7 years ago via iPhone
  • Denis Drachev
    Denis Drachev commented
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  • mrmark1970
    mrmark1970 commented
    Crap building
    about 7 years ago via iPhone
  • Geno Genov
    Geno Genov updated the description
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