London Eye

London Eye

Overview
The London Eye is a 135 metres (442.9 ft) tall giant Ferris wheel
Ferris wheel
A Ferris wheel is a nonbuilding structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with passenger cars attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, the cars are kept upright, usually by gravity.Some of the largest and most modern Ferris wheels have cars mounted on...

 situated on the banks of the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom
Tourist attractions in the United Kingdom
For detailed lists of tourist attractions in the countries of the United Kingdom see:* List of tourist attractions in England* List of tourist attractions in Northern Ireland* List of tourist attractions in Scotland* List of tourist attractions in Wales...

, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. When erected in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 160 m (524.9 ft) Star of Nanchang
Star of Nanchang
The Star of Nanchang is a tall giant Ferris wheel located in the eastern Chinese city of Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province.The Star of Nanchang opened for business in May 2006, having cost 57 million Yuan to build...

 in 2006, and then the 165 m (541.3 ft) Singapore Flyer
Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel located in Singapore, constructed in 2005–2008. Described by its operators as an observation wheel, it reaches 42 stories high, with a total height of , making it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, taller than the Star of Nanchang and taller than...

 in 2008.
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Encyclopedia
The London Eye is a 135 metres (442.9 ft) tall giant Ferris wheel
Ferris wheel
A Ferris wheel is a nonbuilding structure consisting of a rotating upright wheel with passenger cars attached to the rim in such a way that as the wheel turns, the cars are kept upright, usually by gravity.Some of the largest and most modern Ferris wheels have cars mounted on...

 situated on the banks of the River Thames
River Thames
The River Thames flows through southern England. It is the longest river entirely in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom. While it is best known because its lower reaches flow through central London, the river flows alongside several other towns and cities, including Oxford,...

, in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

.

It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom
Tourist attractions in the United Kingdom
For detailed lists of tourist attractions in the countries of the United Kingdom see:* List of tourist attractions in England* List of tourist attractions in Northern Ireland* List of tourist attractions in Scotland* List of tourist attractions in Wales...

, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. When erected in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 160 m (524.9 ft) Star of Nanchang
Star of Nanchang
The Star of Nanchang is a tall giant Ferris wheel located in the eastern Chinese city of Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province.The Star of Nanchang opened for business in May 2006, having cost 57 million Yuan to build...

 in 2006, and then the 165 m (541.3 ft) Singapore Flyer
Singapore Flyer
The Singapore Flyer is a giant Ferris wheel located in Singapore, constructed in 2005–2008. Described by its operators as an observation wheel, it reaches 42 stories high, with a total height of , making it the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, taller than the Star of Nanchang and taller than...

 in 2008. It is still described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilever
Cantilever
A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs.This is in...

ed observation wheel" (as the wheel is supported by an A-frame
A-Frame
An A-frame is a basic structure designed to bear a load in a lightweight economical manner. The simplest form of an A-frame is two similarly sized beams, arranged in a 45-degree or greater angle, attached at the top...

 on one side only, unlike the Nanchang and Singapore wheels).

Commonly known as the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, formerly the Merlin Entertainments London Eye and before that, the British Airways London Eye. Since 20 January 2011, it has been officially known as the EDF Energy London Eye following a three-year sponsorship deal.

The London Eye is located at the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank
South Bank
South Bank is an area of London, England located immediately adjacent to the south side of the River Thames. It forms a long and narrow section of riverside development that is within the London Borough of Lambeth to the border with the London Borough of Southwark and was formerly simply known as...

 of the River Thames in the London Borough of Lambeth
London Borough of Lambeth
The London Borough of Lambeth is a London borough in south London, England and forms part of Inner London. The local authority is Lambeth London Borough Council.-Origins:...

, between Westminster Bridge
Westminster Bridge
Westminster Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the River Thames between Westminster on the north side and Lambeth on the south side, in London, England....

 and Hungerford Bridge
Hungerford Bridge
The Hungerford Bridge crosses the River Thames in London, and lies between Waterloo Bridge and Westminster Bridge. It is a steel truss railway bridge—sometimes known as the Charing Cross Bridge—flanked by two more recent, cable-stayed, pedestrian bridges that share the railway bridge's...

. The site is adjacent to that of the former Dome of Discovery
Dome of Discovery
The Dome of Discovery was a temporary exhibition building designed by architect Ralph Tubbs for the Festival of Britain celebrations which took place on London's South Bank in 1951. The consulting engineers were Freeman Fox and Partners, in particular Oleg Kerensky The Dome of Discovery was a...

, which was built for the Festival of Britain
Festival of Britain
The Festival of Britain was a national exhibition in Britain in the summer of 1951. It was organised by the government to give Britons a feeling of recovery in the aftermath of war and to promote good quality design in the rebuilding of British towns and cities. The Festival's centrepiece was in...

 in 1951.

Design and construction


The wheel's 32 sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal
Oval
An oval is any curve resembling an egg or an ellipse, such as a Cassini oval. The term does not have a precise mathematical definition except in one area oval , but it may also refer to:* A sporting arena of oval shape** a cricket field...

 passenger capsules, designed and supplied by Leitner-Poma
Leitner-Poma
Leitner-Poma of America is a North American aerial lift manufacturer based in Grand Junction, Colorado. It is the North American subsidiary of French-based Poma, which is owned by the Italian company Leitner Technologies, part of the Leitner Group. The North American company was formed in 2000 when...

, are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and rotated by electric motors. Each capsule represents one of the London Boroughs. Each weighs 10 tonnes and holds 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided. The wheel rotates at 26 cm (10 in) per second (about 0.9 km/h or 0.6 mph) so that one revolution takes about 30 minutes. It does not usually stop to take on passengers; the rotation rate is slow enough to allow passengers to walk on and off the moving capsules at ground level. It is, however, stopped to allow disabled or elderly passengers time to embark and disembark safely.
The rim of the Eye is supported by tie rod
Tie rod
A tie rod is a slender structural unit used as a tie and capable of carrying tensile loads only.- Subtypes and examples of applications :* In airplane structures, tie rods are sometimes used in the fuselage or wings....

s and resembles a huge spoked bicycle wheel
Bicycle wheel
A bicycle wheel is a wheel, most commonly a wire wheel, designed for bicycle. A pair is often called a wheelset, especially in the context of ready built "off the shelf" performance-oriented wheels....

. The lighting for the London Eye was redone with LED
Light-emitting diode
A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices and are increasingly used for other lighting...

 lighting from Color Kinetics in December 2006 to allow digital control of the lights as opposed to the manual replacement of gels over fluorescent tubes.

The wheel was designed by architects Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Steven Chilton, Malcolm Cook, Mark Sparrowhawk, and the husband-and-wife team of Julia Barfield and David Marks.

Mace
Mace (company)
Mace Group Ltd, commonly known as Mace, is a global consultancy and construction firm headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It has operations across 49 countries, offering a variety of services that span the entire property life cycle, from fund monitoring, cost consultancy, design management,...

 were responsible for construction management, with Hollandia as the main steelwork contractor and Tilbury Douglas (now known as Interserve
Interserve
Interserve plc is an international support services and construction company based in the UK, with revenue of £1.9 billion and a workforce of 50,000 people worldwide. The company is headquartered in Reading, Berkshire and is listed on the London Stock Exchange...

) as the civil contractor. Consulting engineers Tony Gee & Partners designed the foundation works while Beckett Rankine designed the marine works.


The wheel was constructed in sections which were floated up the Thames on barges and assembled lying flat on piled platforms in the river. Once the wheel was complete it was lifted into an upright position by a strand jack
Strand jack
Strand jacks are jacks used to lift very heavy loads for construction and engineering purposes...

 system made by Enerpac
Enerpac
The Enerpac business is a division of Actuant, a $1.5 billion diversified global manufacturing company, and is headquarted in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Enerpac is an international market leader in high-pressure hydraulics with locations in North and South America, Europe, Africa, Russia, the...

. It was first raised at 2 degrees per hour until it reached 65 degrees, then left in that position for a week while engineers prepared for the second phase of the lift. The total weight of steel in the Eye is 1,700 tonnes (1,870 short tons). The project was European with major components coming from six countries: the steel was supplied from the UK and fabricated in The Netherlands by the Dutch company Hollandia, the cables came from Italy, the bearings came from Germany (FAG/Schaeffler Group), the spindle and hub were cast in the Czech Republic, the capsules were made by Poma
Poma
Poma, also known as Pomagalski S.A. is a French company, specialising in construction of cable-driven lift systems, including fixed and detachable chairlifts, gondola lifts, funiculars, aerial tramways, people movers, and surface lifts. Poma has installed more than 7800 devices on five continents,...

 in France (and the glass for these came from Italy), and the electrical components from the UK.

Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners
Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners
Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners is an independent British town planning consultancy originally founded in 1962 to provide specialist advice on all aspects of the planning process. Over more than four decades the practice has built up extensive planning and development experience...

 (NLP) assisted the operators of the London Eye, the Tussauds Group, in obtaining planning and listed building consent to alter the wall on the South Bank
South Bank
South Bank is an area of London, England located immediately adjacent to the south side of the River Thames. It forms a long and narrow section of riverside development that is within the London Borough of Lambeth to the border with the London Borough of Southwark and was formerly simply known as...

 of the Thames. NLP also examined and reported on the implications of a Section S106 agreement attached to the original contract.

NLP also prepared planning and listed building consent applications for the permanent retention of the attraction on behalf of the London Eye Company. This has involved the co-ordination of an Environmental Statement and the production of a planning supporting statement detailing the reasons for its retention.

History


The London Eye was formally opened by the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, on 31 December 1999, although it was not opened to the public until 9 March 2000 because of technical problems. Since its opening, the Eye has become a major landmark and tourist attraction.

Since 1 January 2005, the Eye has been the focal point of London's New Year celebrations, with 10-minute displays taking place involving fireworks fired from the wheel itself.

In 2006 the Tussauds Group
The Tussauds Group
The Tussauds Group is now part of Merlin Entertainments, the world's second largest leisure group, second only to Disney. It is based in Poole, Dorset from where it manages a portfolio of brands and over 50 attractions including the famous Madame Tussauds waxworks, Legoland Parks, Sealife Centres,...

 bought out the other two joint owners, British Airways and the Marks Barfield family (the lead architects). Following Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd is a British operator of amusement parks and other attractions. It is the largest such company in Europe, and globally the second largest after Walt Disney Parks and Resorts....

' purchase of the Tussauds Group in 2007, it now owns 100% of the Eye. British Airways continued its brand association, but from the beginning of 2008 the name 'British Airways' was dropped from the logo.

On 12 August 2009 the London Eye saw another re-brand, this time calling it "The Merlin Entertainments London Eye" to show Merlin Entertainments' ownership. A new logo was designed for the attraction – this time taking the actual form of an eye made out of London's famous landmarks. This also came at the time when the new Merlin Entertainments London Eye 4D Experience pre-flight show was launched underneath the ticket centre in County Hall.
Each of the 32 ovoidal air-conditioned passenger capsules weighs 10 tonnes (11 short tons) and can carry 25 people


During the bidding process of the 2012 Olympic Games, the London bid organisers announced the Olympic emblem
Olympic emblem
Each Olympic Games has its own Olympic emblem, which is a design integrating the Olympic rings with one or more distinctive elements. They are created and proposed by the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games or the National Olympic Committee of the host country...

 would be attached to the Eye for the duration of the 2012 Summer Olympics
2012 Summer Olympics
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the "London 2012 Olympic Games", are scheduled to take place in London, England, United Kingdom from 27 July to 12 August 2012...

.

On 5 June 2008 it was announced that 30 million people had ridden the London Eye since its opening in March 2000.

In 2009 Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments
Merlin Entertainments Group Ltd is a British operator of amusement parks and other attractions. It is the largest such company in Europe, and globally the second largest after Walt Disney Parks and Resorts....

 opened a pre-flight 4D Experience at The London Eye, which is included in the ticket price. The newly refurbished ticket hall and 4D cinema experience was designed by architects Kay Elliott working with Merlin Studios project designer Craig Sciba. Merlin Studios later appointed Simex-Iwerks as the 4D theatre hardware specialists. The film was written and directed by 3D director Julian Napier and 3D produced by Phil Streather. The same year the first stage of a £12.5 million capsule upgrade started. Each 10-tonne capsule was taken down and floated down the river to Tilbury Docks in Essex.

In January 2011, a lighting-up ceremony marked the start of a three-year deal between nuclear company EDF Energy
EDF Energy
EDF Energy is an integrated energy company in the United Kingdom, with operations spanning electricity generation and the sale of gas and electricity to homes and businesses throughout the United Kingdom...

 and Merlin Entertainment. Merlin said EDF would help it reduce the London Eye's overall carbon footprint using its expertise as the UK's largest producer of low-carbon electricity.

Financial difficulties



On 20 May 2005, there were reports of a leaked letter, showing that the South Bank Centre
South Bank Centre
Southbank Centre is a complex of artistic venues in London, UK, on the South Bank of the River Thames between County Hall and Waterloo Bridge. It comprises three main buildings , and is Europe’s largest centre for the arts. It attracts more than three million visitors annually...

 (SBC) — owners of part of the land on which the struts of the Eye are located — had served a notice to quit on the attraction along with a demand for an increase in rent from £64,000 per year to £2.5 million, which the operators rejected as unaffordable.

On 25 May 2005, London mayor Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone
Kenneth Robert "Ken" Livingstone is an English politician who is currently a member of the centrist to centre-left Labour Party...

 vowed that the landmark would remain in London. He also pledged that if the dispute was not resolved he would use his powers to ask the London Development Agency
London Development Agency
The London Development Agency is the Regional Development Agency for Greater London, England. It is a functional body of the Greater London Authority...

 to issue a compulsory purchase order
Compulsory purchase order
A compulsory purchase order is a legal function in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland that allows certain bodies which need to obtain land or property to do so without the consent of the owner. It may be enforced if a proposed development is considered one for public betterment - for...

. The land in question is a small part of the Jubilee Gardens, which was given to the SBC for £1 when the Greater London Council
Greater London Council
The Greater London Council was the top-tier local government administrative body for Greater London from 1965 to 1986. It replaced the earlier London County Council which had covered a much smaller area...

 was broken up.

The South Bank Centre and the British Airways London Eye agreed a 25-year lease on 8 February 2006, after a judicial review over the rent dispute. The lease agreement meant that the South Bank Centre, a publicly-funded charity, would receive at least £500,000 a year from the attraction, the status of which is secured for the foreseeable future. Tussauds also announced the acquisition of the entire one-third interests of British Airways and the Marks Barfield family in the Eye, as well as the outstanding debt to BA. These agreements gave Tussauds 100% ownership of the Eye and resolved the debt from the Eye's construction loan from British Airways, which stood at more than £150 million by mid-2005 and had been increasing at 25% per annum.

Critical reception


Sir Richard Rogers, winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, wrote of the London Eye in a book about the project,

Writing for G2
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

 in an article from August 2007, Steve Rose described the Eye as follows,

Predecessor



A predecessor to the London Eye, the Great Wheel
Great Wheel
The Great Wheel was a Ferris wheel built for the Empire of India Exhibition at Earls Court in London in 1895.Great Wheel may also refer to:* Beijing Great Wheel, a Ferris wheel proposed for Beijing, China...

, was built for the Empire of India Exhibition at Earls Court
Earls Court
Earls Court is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It is an inner-city district centred on Earl's Court Road and surrounding streets, located 3.1 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It borders the sub-districts of South Kensington to the East, West...

 in 1895. Construction began in March 1894 and it opened to the public on 17 July 1895. Modelled on the original Chicago Ferris Wheel
Ferris Wheel
The original Ferris Wheel, sometimes also referred to as the Chicago Wheel, was the centerpiece of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois....

, it was 94 metres (308.4 ft) tall and was the first of over 200 Ferris wheels built by Australian engineers Adam Gaddelin and Gareth Watson. It stayed in service until 1906, by which time its 40 cars (each with a capacity of 40 persons) had carried over 2.5 million passengers, and was demolished in 1907.

Transport links

Public transport access
London Buses London Eye RV1
London Buses route RV1
London Buses route RV1 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Prior to its launch, the service was promoted as Riverside Bus, and was intended to open up the south bank of riverside London, connecting visitor attractions such as the Tower of London, the Tate Modern, the...


Westminster Bridge / County Hall 12
London Buses route 12
London Buses route 12 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England, United Kingdom. The service is currently contracted to Go-Ahead London.-History:...

, 53
London Buses route 53
London Buses route 53 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, United Kingdom. The service is currently contracted to Stagecoach London.-History:...

, 148, 159
London Buses route 159
London Buses route 159 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, United Kingdom. The service is currently contracted to Arriva London.-History:...

, 211
London Buses route 211
London Buses route 211 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, United Kingdom. The service is currently contracted to Abellio London.-History:...

, 453
London Buses route 453
London Buses route 453 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. The service is currently contracted to Go-Ahead London.-History:...

London Underground Waterloo
Waterloo station
Waterloo station, also known as London Waterloo, is a central London railway terminus and London Underground complex. The station is owned and operated by Network Rail and is close to the South Bank of the River Thames, and in Travelcard Zone 1....

 
Westminster 

The nearest London Underground station is Waterloo
Waterloo tube station
Waterloo tube station is a London Underground station located at Waterloo station. It is the second busiest station on the network and is served by the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and the Waterloo & City lines...

, although Westminster
Westminster tube station
Westminster is a London Underground station in the City of Westminster. It is served by the Circle, District and Jubilee lines. On the Circle and District lines, the station is between St. James's Park and Embankment and, on the Jubilee line it is between Green Park and Waterloo. It is in...

 is also within easy walking distance. Connection with National Rail
National Rail
National Rail is a title used by the Association of Train Operating Companies as a generic term to define the passenger rail services operated in Great Britain...

 services is made at London Waterloo station.

London River Services
London River Services
London River Services is a division of Transport for London , which manages passenger transport on the River Thames in London, UK. They do not own or operate any boats but license the services of other operators...

 operated by Thames Clipper
Thames Clipper
Thames Clipper is a water-bus service operating in London on the River Thames. The company offers commuter services between eastern and central London, as well as tourist services under licence from London River Services. At present they transport around 7,500 passengers daily.-Company:Sean Collins...

 and City Cruises
City Cruises
City Cruises is a public limited company that operates scheduled public sightseeing cruises on the River Thames in London, serving Westminster, London Eye, Tower and Greenwich piers every day throughout the year...

 stop at the nearby Waterloo Millennium Pier
Waterloo Millennium Pier
London Eye Pier is a pier on South Bank of the River Thames in Central London, UK, located directly in front of the London Eye....

.

In popular culture



  • The Eye is a plot device in the first episode of the 2005 Doctor Who
    Doctor Who
    Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

    series, "Rose
    Rose (Doctor Who)
    "Rose" is the first episode of Series One of the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who. Written by show runner Russell T Davies and directed by Keith Boak, the episode was first broadcast on 26 March 2005....

    "
  • The Eye is featured in the 2007 children's mystery novel The London Eye Mystery
    The London Eye Mystery
    The London Eye Mystery is a children's mystery novel by English author Siobhan Dowd. First published in 2007, it tells the story of how Ted, a boy with Asperger syndrome solves the mystery of how his cousin Salim seemingly vanishes from inside a sealed capsule on the London Eye...

  • The Eye is featured in the 2007 film Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
    Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
    Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is a 2007 American superhero film, and the sequel to the 2005 film Fantastic Four. Both films are based on the Fantastic Four comic book and were directed by Tim Story...


External links