Radio City Tower

Radio City Tower (also known as St. John's Beacon) is a radio and observation tower in Liverpool, England, built in 1969 and opened by Queen Elizabeth II. It was designed by James A. Roberts Associates in Birmingham. It is 138 metres tall, and is the second tallest free-standing building in Liverpool and the 32nd tallest in the United Kingdom.[2] When considering the height of the building, it has a 10m long antenna on the roof, making it the tallest structure in Liverpool (including antennas). As testament to the importance of its design, which was described by Historic England as “embodying the technological bravura and spirit of the space age”, the building was listed at Grade II in November 2020.[3] The Tower takes its name from the main radio station that operates from it, Radio City and its sister station Greatest Hits Radio Liverpool & The North West.[4]

Radio City Tower
Rad-city-ghr logo png.png
Radio City Tower - December 2017.jpg
Radio City Tower, in 2017
Alternative namesSt John's Beacon
St John's Tower
General information
TypeRadio station
LocationLiverpool, England, United Kingdom
Address1 Houghton Street
L1 1RL
Coordinates53°24′23″N 2°58′55″W / 53.40639°N 2.98194°W / 53.40639; -2.98194Coordinates: 53°24′23″N 2°58′55″W / 53.40639°N 2.98194°W / 53.40639; -2.98194
Current tenantsBauer Liverpool
Radio City
Greatest Hits Radio Liverpool & The North West
Greatest Hits Radio News North West
Radio City News
Construction started1966
Cost£5 Million (Refurbishment)
OwnerBauer Radio Estates
Roof138 m (453 ft)
Technical details
Floor count5
Design and construction
ArchitectJames A. Roberts Associates - Birmingham
Structural engineerScott Wilson Group (both original construction and refurbishment)
Other information
ParkingSt John's Shopping Centre

St. John's Beacon (1969–1999)Edit

At the top of the tower was a luxury 5 star revolving restaurant, the facade and floor of the restaurant revolving as one unit, while the roof of the restaurant was used as an observation platform for visitors. There are 558 stairs up to the top, and two lift shafts with lifts reaching the top in 30 seconds.

The tower is structurally independent of the adjacent shopping centre, with a simple foundation onto sandstone. The foundation is 60 feet in diameter, 17 feet deep and begins 40 feet below Houghton Street. It has a tapering shaft that was built using slip-formed concrete. The crows nest structure at the top was then added after the shaft was formed.

The original restaurant closed in 1979 for health and safety issues. It was re-opened, with a reduced capacity and additional fire prevention measures, during the early 1980s. The restaurant was eventually re-fitted as a "Buck Rogers" space-themed restaurant in 1983, but closed again due to lack of business. After this the observation deck and the restaurant remained closed.

In the following years, the tower lay empty and derelict. Often considered to be an eyesore or a “White Elephant” by fellow Liverpudlians, blue "UFO style" neon strip lights were added to the perimeter of the tower in 1994 in an attempt to increase its attractiveness. These were later removed upon the refurbishment of the tower.

In late 1998, Radio City, owned and operated by the then Emap Radio, expressed interest in refurbishing the tower to house Radio City and Magic 1548, including their studios and required office space. The plan was announced to the public and in the interim period, Radio City would regularly broadcast from the beacon and also broadcast during the Lightshow Festival period in late 1999 which involved many different patterned and coloured lights being shone from the tower.

Work commenced in 1999 and was completed in the summer of 2000.

Radio City Tower (1999-present)Edit

The tower was refurbished in 1999 at a cost of £5 million. It reopened as Radio City 96.7 (and Magic 1548) in August 2000. The outdoor observation deck which had been located on the roof of the restaurant was transformed into a second floor; this now holds offices and conference rooms for both radio stations. The studios are on the lower floor that used to be the restaurant. The original revolving structure and machinery were left intact during the refurbishment. Brackets were added to lock the moving structure in place.

The Tower has been known to often sway in heavy winds. This is a design in construction within skyscrapers and tall building in order to prevent the building snapping at its base or cracking its shaft.

During the refurbishment between the 1st and 2nd floor, the Radio City 96.7 lettering was added which illuminates yellow during nighttime. Several other lights were added into the base of the crows nest structure which illuminate all day and periodically change colour. During Christmas time a beam of light is fired at the base of the tower. The 2nd floors windows are often illuminated at night with a particular colour to mark certain events. A red aircraft warning light sits on top of the Beacons advertisement framework to warn planes of its height at night.

The refurbishment added an advertising framework at the top of the tower designed for both a fabric banner and illuminated light boxes.

Window cleaning must be performed by specialist teams who abseil down the side of the tower in order to clean the windows and often change light bulbs in the Radio City signage and the crows nest base lights.

The roof is home to the local 10C Digital Audio Broadcasting multiplex for Liverpool, but Radio City and Greatest Hits Radio North West do not directly broadcast from the roof. Their FM signal is transmitted by the Allerton Park Transmitter along with BBC Radio Merseyside on 95.8FM and Capital Liverpool on 107.6FM

In 2017 the Liverpool-based tech startup Scan And Make organised the first edition of the art contest exhibition Making Art 4.0 in the Radio offices.

In 2018 an artwork banner was displayed on the beacon's advertisement framework which was titled, “Liverpool 2018” to celebrate 10 years after Liverpool's 2008 Capital Of Culture events.

Radio City Talk ceased broadcasting on 31 May 2020 by Bauer Media deeming it as not financially viable to run due to low listening figures.

As of September 2020, the tower houses the studios for the local programming of Radio City and Greatest Hits Radio North West.

St John's Beacon Viewing GalleryEdit

St John's Beacon Viewing Gallery Logo

In 2010, the Radio City Tower's (St John's Beacon) first floor was opened full-time to members of the public on paying an entrance fee. This fee is usually around £5–£6. Visitors can spend as long as they wish in the tower. The gallery gives the opportunity to view Liverpool from a 360° Panoramic view 452 ft (138 m) above Houghton Street. However, visitors cannot walk the full length of the building due to News offices for Radio City and Greatest Hits Radio North West occupying a quarter of the space. Although technically this still gives a 360° view.[5]

Radio StationsEdit


Initially Radio City and Magic 1548 started broadcasting from the tower but the tower was actually refurbished with 3 studios and a small recording and news studio.

In 2008 the then City Talk 105.9 started broadcasting from studio 3. Radio City broadcast from Studio 2 and Magic from Studio 1.

In 2015, with the revamp of local stations and the creation of Bauer City 1, Bauer City 2 and Bauer City 3, Magic 1548 became Radio City 2 and City Talk 105.9 became Radio City Talk and swapped frequencies with Radio City 2. A new station, Radio City 3 launched on 19 January 2015. This station did not need a dedicated studio as all output came from The Hits in Manchester but contained local adverts and news. It was later dropped from the lineup in 2017 and eventually The Hits Radio became Hits Radio UK in 2018.

Radio City is now part of the Hits Radio Network and still broadcasts its 2 locally produced shows from Studio 2.[6]

In January 2019, Bauer launched Greatest Hits Radio across the UK with Bauer City 2 stations becoming local outputs. This meant Radio City 2 became GHR Liverpool, North West and North Wales. Most of Greatest Hits Radio's programming for the UK originated from Studio 1 including breakfast and drive, as well as local news for Liverpool.

Radio City Talk ceased broadcasting on 31 May 2020 due to low listening figures. In September 2020 with changes to Greatest Hits Radio across the UK the North Wales part was dropped and became Greatest Hits Radio Liverpool and The North West due to merging with several other stations across the north west. Studio 1 still broadcasts the National weekday breakfast and evening show, as well as weekend content.

Failed Zip-Wire ProposalEdit

In late June 2020, a proposal was put up by ZipWorldUK for a new permanent £4 million Zip Wire that would start from the second floor of the Beacon and end in Liverpool's Central Library. The project had mixed public opinions, with many people claiming that it would be a permanent defacing of one of the city's world famous landmarks.[citation needed] Many library users also expressed concerns that the noise of the zip wire could disturb other library users.[citation needed] The plan went before the City Council and on 30 June 2020 the plans were approved,[7] however, on 2 September 2020 it was reported that Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson was withdrawing permission for this use of the Central Library, effectively vetoing the proposal.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Radio City Tower at Emporis
  2. ^ "Radio City Tower". Emporis. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  3. ^ "St John's Beacon given listed status". Place North West. 27 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Liverpool aerial zipline to be approved despite fears of 'Disneyisation' of historic city centre". The Independent. 25 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Home Version 11". St Johns Beacon, Liverpool. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  6. ^ Kirkham, Jenny (7 December 2019). "Views from Radio City show how Liverpool is constantly changing". Liverpool Echo.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Exclusive: Liverpool Mayor blocks £5m zip wire plan". 2 September 2020.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Royal Liver Building
Tallest Building in Liverpool
1965 – 2008
Succeeded by
West Tower