The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. As of January 2015, it has been advertised as the Coca-Cola London Eye. The structure is 443 feet (135 metres) tall and the wheel has a diameter of 394 feet (120 metres). When it opened to the public in 2000 it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel. Its height was surpassed by the 520 feet (158 m) tall Star of Nanchang in 2006, the 541 feet (165 m) tall Singapore Flyer in 2008, and the 550 feet (168 m) High Roller (Las Vegas) in 2014. Supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the taller Nanchang and Singapore wheels, the Eye is described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel". It is Europe's tallest Ferris wheel, and offered the highest public viewing point in London until it was superseded by the 804 feet (245 m) observation deck on the 72nd floor of The Shard, which opened to the public on 1 February 2013. It is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom with over 3.75 million visitors annually, and has made many appearances in popular culture. The London Eye adjoins the western end of Jubilee Gardens (previously the site of the former Dome of Discovery), on the South Bank of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Hungerford Bridge, in the London Borough of Lambeth.
A predecessor to the London Eye, the Great Wheel, was built for the Empire of India Exhibition at Earls Court and opened to the public on 17 July 1895. Modelled on the original Chicago Ferris Wheel, it was 94 metres (308 feet) tall and 82.3 metres (270 feet) in diameter. 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. The Great Wheel was demolished in 1907 following its last use at the Imperial Austrian Exhibition.
The London Eye was designed by architects Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Steve Chilton, Malcolm Cook, Mark Sparrowhawk, and the husband-and-wife team of Julia Barfield and David Marks. Mace was responsible for construction management, with Hollandia as the main steelwork contractor and Tilbury Douglas as the civil contractor. Consulting engineers Tony Gee & Partners designed the foundation works while Beckett Rankine designed the marine works. Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners assisted The Tussauds Group in obtaining planning and listed building consent to alter the wall on the South Bank of the Thames. They also examined and reported on the implications of a Section 106 agreement attached to the original contract, and also prepared planning and listed building consent applications for the permanent retention of the attraction, which involved the co-ordination of an Environmental Statement and the production of a planning supporting statement detailing the reasons for its retention. The rim of the Eye is supported by tensioned steel cables and resembles a huge spoked bicycle wheel. The lighting was redone with LED 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 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 system made by Enerpac. 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 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 in France (and the glass for these came from Italy), and the electrical components from the UK.
The wheel's 32 sealed and air-conditioned ovoidal passenger capsules, designed and supplied by Poma, are attached to the external circumference of the wheel and rotated by electric motors. Each of the 10-tonne (11-short-ton) capsules represents one of the London Boroughs, and holds up to 25 people, who are free to walk around inside the capsule, though seating is provided. The wheel rotates at 26 cm (10 inches) per second (about 0.9 kph 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. In 2009 the first stage of a £12.5 million capsule upgrade began. Each capsule was taken down and floated down the river to Tilbury Docks in Essex. On 2 June 2013 a passenger capsule was named the Coronation Capsule to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Sir Richard Rogers, winner of the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize, wrote of the London Eye in a book about the project: '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.' Writing for G2 in an article from August 2007, Steve Rose described the Eye as follows: 'The Eye... exists in a category of its own.... It essentially has to fulfil only one function, and what a brilliantly inessential function it is: to lift people up from the ground, take them round a giant loop in the sky, then put them back down where they started. That is all it needs to do, and thankfully, that is all it does.'
The London Eye was formally opened by then Prime Minister Tony Blair on 31 December 1999, but did not open to the paying public until 9 March 2000 because of a capsule clutch problem. It is currently owned by Merlin Entertainments and sponsored by Coca Cola. They provide T Loop facilities in their Ticket Hall, 4D Experience and London Eye River Cruise. If you would like to use this please seek assistance from staff and switch to the T loop setting on your device(s). Guests who are deaf or have a hearing impairment may wish to purchase their mini guide or guidebook. These guides point out what to look out for on your London Eye experience. On their London Eye River Cruises, T-loops systems are available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin. Audio guides are available for the visually impaired. Capsules can accomodate wheelchairs. Please note that wheelchair access starts at the beginning of the boarding ramps. If you require assistance when joining the queue please ask a team member and they will help you. They welcome assistance dogs. They request that your dog is clearly identifiable as a working dog. Please be aware that there may be a small delay to boarding to ensure that your dog is as comfortable as possible. There are male, female and disabled toilet facilities available in Coca-Cola London Eye Ticket Hall. These are signposted; do not hesitate to ask staff for directions. Baby Change facilities are also available.
The River Cruise features live commentary presented by expert guides that bring the city to life. Audio commentary is also available in French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Russian, Japanese and Mandarin. Departs daily from the London Eye Pier directly underneath the London Eye: *10.45pm, 11.45pm, 12.45pm, 13.45pm, 14.45pm, 15.45pm, 16.45pm, *17.45pm, *18.45pm, *19.45pm *19th March until 2nd October only. Please note: our wheelchair lift is currently unavailable. We apologise for any inconvenience caused. Some highlights of the 40-minute circular cruise include: •Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (Palace of Westminster) •St Paul's Cathedral •Tate Modern •Tower of London •Shakespeare’s Globe •Tower Bridge and much more!
Location : Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7PB
Transport: Thames Clippers and City Cruises stop at the London Eye Pier.
Opening Times: April through August 10:00 to 20:30.
Opening Times: September through March 11:00 to 18:00.
Tickets : From £23.45. From £32.45 for day/night.
Tickets : River Cruise from £11.75. London Eye/River Cruise from £31.00.
Tel: 0871 781 3000