In the early 1990s a competition was launched to design a millennium landmark. Architects David Marks and Julia Barfield’s idea of a large ferris-wheel to adorn the London skyline was victorious. The London Eye was born!
They wanted visitors and Londoners to enjoy the spectacular views London has to offer. Consultation took 7 years and they drew from an international skills base. And finally, the Millennium Wheel was erected at 135m above the city, along the banks of the River Thames.
The funding for the project came from British Airways and the Tussauds Group. On the 31st December 1999, the world’s largest observation wheel was officially opened by Prime Minister Tony Blair. Only the BT Tower, Tower 42 and One Canada Square in Canary Wharf were taller than the Wheel at that time. Thus this beauty was the forth tallest structure in the capital for many years.
This most successful London landmark receives over 3.5 million visitors every year. This is equal to 6,680 Boeing 747-400 jets, filled to capacity. 800 passengers can fill up a capacity ‘flight’ for a 30 minute rotation (26cm per second). Remarkably, on a clear day, it is possible to see Windsor Castle from the top. And that is 40km away.
The 32 capsules each weigh 10 tonnes, which is equal to the weight of 1,052,631 pound coins. They can each hold up to 25 people. And a capsule is just perfect for a private event, such as a wedding or a civil partnership. Packages start at £2,800 and vows are exchanged at the top of the rotation with wonderful photograph opportunities.
Since 2019, the London landmark has been sponsored by lastminute.com and is now officially the ‘lastminute.com London Eye’.
Sir Richard Rogers
Sir Richard Rogers world-renowned architect, wrote of the London Eye:
“The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it! It is public and accessible, and it is in a great position at the heart of London”
The London Eye is now as much a part of the capital as the city’s famous pubs and Madam Tussauds. The Eye is a high priority on the list of ‘Must visit landmarks’ for not only tourists, by locals alike. The experience encompasses the romance of the city of London.