Glasgow Tower

Glasgow Tower (formerly the Millennium Tower)[2] is a 127 metres (417 ft) free-standing landmark observation tower located on the south bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland and forms part of the Glasgow Science Centre complex. It holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the world, in which the whole structure is capable of rotating 360 degrees.[3] After being closed in 2008 for refurbishments, the tower re-opened to the general public in July 2014.

Glasgow Tower
Millenium Tower (2001)
Glasgow Millenium Tower (cropped).jpg
Record height
Tallest in Scotland since 2001[I]
Preceded byBluevale and Whitevale Towers
General information
TypeObservation tower
LocationGlasgow, Scotland
Coordinates55°51′33″N 4°17′46″W / 55.8592°N 4.2961°W / 55.8592; -4.2961Coordinates: 55°51′33″N 4°17′46″W / 55.8592°N 4.2961°W / 55.8592; -4.2961
Antenna spire127 m (417 ft)
Design and construction
ArchitectRichard Horden
Structural engineerBuro Happold
Awards and prizesHolds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest tower in the world in which the whole structure is capable of rotating 360 degrees.[1]

The Glasgow Tower has been the tallest building in both Glasgow and Scotland since its completion in 2001.[4]

Background and world recordsEdit

At 127 metres (417 ft), the Glasgow Tower is currently the tallest tower in Scotland, and since late 2015 following the demolition of both the Red Road Flats and the Bluevale and Whitevale Towers the structure is now the tallest in all of Glasgow. It holds a Guinness World Record for being the tallest tower in the world in which the whole structure is capable of rotating 360 degrees. The whole structure originally rested upon a Nigerian made 65-centimetre-diameter (26 in) thrust bearing, but this was replaced with a phosphor-manganese-bronze alloy solid ball and cup bearing prior to re-opening in 2014. This bearing rests at the bottom of a 15-metre-deep (49 ft) caisson, while the tower itself is not directly connected to these foundations, instead being supported by a ring of 24 rubber-sprung roller bearings at Podium level. This is to allow the building to rotate to face into the wind.

The tower has two lifts each with a 12-person capacity, but for reasons of comfort, this is limited to 6 guests plus a single member of staff. The lifts, manufactured by Alimak Hek, ascend the tower in two and a half minutes using a rack and pinion system,[5] providing views to the rear of the tower through all-around glass windows. There is also an emergency staircase, comprising 523 stairs from the Cabin level to the Podium.[6]


Aerial view of Glasgow Tower

The tower has been plagued by safety and engineering problems throughout its history. It missed its opening date in 2001.[7] Problems with the Nigerian-made thrust bearing on which it rotates led to it being closed between February 2002 and August 2004.[8] On 30 January 2005, ten people were trapped in the lifts and the rescue took over five hours to complete.[9] Following the incident, the tower re-opened on 21 December 2006.[10]

In September 2007, a charity abseiling event was held on Glasgow Tower.[11][12] The Centre states that 65,000 people have climbed the tower during its periods of operation.[7]

In August 2010 the tower closed again due to "technical issues stemming from its original design".[7]

Prior to re-opening in 2014, the thrust bearing was replaced with a ball and cup bearing, and the partial fix was featured in the TV documentary "Incredible Engineering Blunders: Fixed".[13]

The tower opened to the public again in July 2014 with new safety features and an updated interior.[14] The tower now operates annually across the summer months (between April and October) and will take passengers to the 100 metres (330 ft) high observation deck when wind-speeds do not exceed approximately 11.2 metres per second (40 km/h; 25 mph), which ensures their comfort and enjoyment. Three days after opening, a capacitor bank at the base encountered a fault, producing smoke which was misidentified as a fire.

The tower has not opened during 2021, reportedly due to social distancing requirements.[15]


It is shaped like an aerofoil (as if a symmetrical aircraft wing had been set in the ground vertically), with 4 manually-operated 6 kW motors to turn it into the wind in order to reduce wind resistance and improve stability through aerodynamic forces (wind split by the aerofoil applies an equal force to both sides of the structure, holding it in place). The tower, previously known as the Millennium Tower, was the winning design in an international competition to design a tower for the city centre of Glasgow.[16] The original architectural design was by the architect Richard Horden, with engineering design by Buro Happold, but after commissioning the project was taken over by the Glasgow architects BDP. In the end the tower cost £10 million. Glasgow City Council successfully sued contractors Carillion over the quality of the work.[7]

Tallest building debateEdit

The tower as viewed from its base

When completed in 2001, it became the second tallest self supporting structure in Scotland, behind the Inverkip Power Station chimney. The website for the tower claims it is "The tallest freestanding building in Scotland".[17] Although the tower has an observation deck at 330 feet (100 m),[18] it does not have floors continuously from the ground and therefore the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) does not consider it to be a building.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Science Centre Tower at Emporis
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Glasgow Tower | Glasgow Science Centre". Archived from the original on 6 January 2021. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Glasgow Tower | Glasgow Science Centre".
  5. ^, Zwebb. "Alimak Hek Ltd Celebrates 50th Anniversary". Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Flickr photo of World Record certificate". Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d "BBC News - Faulty tower: Glasgow's £10m white elephant". BBC Online. 3 June 2013. Archived from the original on 10 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC News Report". 23 August 2004. Archived from the original on 16 June 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  9. ^ "BBC News Report". 30 January 2005. Archived from the original on 17 February 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  10. ^ "BBC News Report". 20 December 2006. Archived from the original on 27 January 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  11. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre webpage on event". Archived from the original on 1 July 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  12. ^ "Cash for Kids charity page". Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  13. ^ "Incredible Engineering Blunders: Fixed". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  14. ^ "Latest Glasgow & West News". Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Glasgow Tower". Glasgow Science Centre. Archived from the original on 7 June 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Horden Cherry Lee Architects". Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2007.
  17. ^ "Glasgow Tower Facts". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
  18. ^ "Science Centre Tower". Emporis (Buildings). Emporis GMBH. 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 31 August 2015.

External linksEdit