London Guide: The London Eye
The London Eye, also known as the Millenium Wheel, is situated on the South Bank of the River Thames, at a site called Jubilee Gardens, between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge.
At a height of 135 metres, it is the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, as it is supported by means of only one A Frame. The construction was designed by seven architects from the London firm of Mace Group Ltd. The wheel contains 32 egg shaped capsules, known as ' pods ', each one of which, represents a London borough.
Each ten tonne capsule can carry 25 people, making a total of 800 people at full capacity and gives the visitor a panoramic view of the capital of England of up to 40 kilometres, on a clear day, possibly taking in Windsor Castle and the new Wembley Arena looking west.
The wheel's circumference is 424 metres and weighs in at 2,100 tonnes.
The wheel rotates at 26 centimetres a second and takes 30 minutes to complete one revolution, which is called a flight.
The outer rim of the wheel is supported by 64 tie rods, resembling the spokes of a bicycle wheel and lit by L.E.D lights, which are digitally controlled.
The wheel's vast 330 tonne hub and spindle is made from cast steel, which was made in 8 sections, by car manufacturer Skoda, in the Czech Republic.
The wheel sits on a foundation of 44 concrete blocks, which are 33 metres thick.
The wheel was constructed in sections which were delivered on site by means of barges on the River Thames.
The wheel was positioned by a strand jack system, by raising the wheel at 2 degrees an hour until it reached 65 degrees.The wheel was then left untouched for a week, to let it settle on site, and to be checked by site engineers.
The building project was a European venture, with steel made in Britain which was fabricated in the Netherlands, the cables were made in Italy, the bearings came from Germany and the ' pods ' were manufactured in France.
The wheel was officially opened on 31 st of December ( Millenium Eve ) 1999, by former British Premier Tony Blair.
It was opened to the public in March 2000, and has seen around 35 million visitors to date.
The wheel is owned by the Dorset based leisure group the Tussauds Group and run and maintained by Merlin Entertainments of London.
The London Eye as seen from Westminster Bridge.
Three different types of ticket can be bought at the wheel's box office, wheel flight only, Thames cruise only or a combination ticket for both.
The London Eye Thames cruise is a 30 minute guided trip which includes taking in the sites of the Houses of Parliament, St Thomas' Hospital ( where Florence Nightingale trained ), Christopher Wren's St Pauls Cathedral, Shakespear's Globe Theatre ( the only building in the city of London with a thatched roof ), The London Monument ( site of the start of the fire of London ), H.M.S Belfast, ( former royal Navy vessel now a Naval museum ), the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
The wheel at night
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