London Duck Tours loves a ride on a big wheel, and surely none can beat the 443ft (135 metre) tall, 384ft (120 metre) wide London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel beside Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank of the Thames. It’s also a handy obvious landmark if you’re trying to get in the vague vicinity of the London Duck Tours departure point – it’s about a three minute walk from both our Duck Stop and our booking office too!
A Millennium Wheel for the Nation
Originally known as the Millennium Wheel, the London Eye has been sponsored by several global companies including British Airways, EDF Energy and Coca-Cola. For several years it offered the highest public viewing point in London, until it was superseded by The Shard in 2013. It has appeared in many films, pop videos and documentaries, and has been used as a focus of national celebration for the London Olympic Games in 2012 and the London New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Biggest Bicycle Wheel in the World?
Designed by a husband and wife team of architects Julia Barfield and David Marks, it was opened on 31st December 1999 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, it opening to paying customers in March 2000. LED lights around the wheel can be controlled digitally to reflect particular occasions, festivals and sponsorships. Each of its 32 pods or capsules weigh 10 tonnes and can hold up to 25 passengers. The pods are all air conditioned – to keep passengers cool in summer and warm on those wintry London days.
Birdsye view from the London Eye
The wheel rotates at just over half a mile per hour, with one full revolution taking 30 minutes this speed is slow enough to allow the passengers to walk onto the moving wheel at ground level. The slow rotation allows passengers to take in the spectacular views over London’s skyline, spot famous buildings and landmarks, and take those important keepsake photographs and selfies!
The London Eye looks especially beautiful at nighttime when it is lit by hundreds of twinkling white led lights, as are the trees that line the area immediately to the front of the wheel.
Did you know – the second Great Wheel of London
The London Eye is not the first enormous wheel in London’s colourful history. Back in 1895, the Empire of India exhibition had its own Great Wheel, some 308ft tall, which operated until 1906 and carried some 2.5 million passengers.