The London Eye is a 135 metre high observation wheel that is located on the South Bank of the River Thames on Westminster Bridge Road. Offering unrivalled views over London, it is claimed that on a clear day you can see as far as Windsor Castle, almost 25 miles away. Since it opened in March 2000, The London Eye become one of the iconic images of London and a tourist attraction not to be missed.
Designed by the husband and wife team of London architects David Marks and Julia Barfield, and financially sponsored by British Airways, it took 16 months to build, with work being carried out in five separate countries. The wheel was then floated into position on barges, then in a much televised single operation, hoisted into place.
The enormous wheel takes 30 minutes to complete a full rotation, which is approximately 0.9 kilometres or 0.6 miles per hour. The benefits of such a slow speed it that passengers can easily embark and disembark without the need to stop the wheel and without having to stop the wheel passengers get a much smoother ride, and have longer to appreciate the stunning views.
Mounted on the wheel are 32 capsules, each capsule can carry a maximum of 25 people, meaning that the London Eye is capable of carrying up to 800 people in total. There is a bench seat in each capsule although with the superb views, most choose to remain standing. As you would expect in such a high spec, all year attraction, the capsules are temperature controlled. The steel and glass construction of the capsules were designed to provide all round visibility. Unlike the gondolas on a traditional Ferris wheel the capsules do not hang down, they are mounted on rings that are externally fitted to the outside of the wheel so as not to obstruct the view.
Visitors need to remember that this is one of London’s “must do” tourist attractions, and as such can get very busy at times, but don’t get put if there are long queues, at a possible 1.600 passengers an hour you will soon be at the front. If time is limited, it may be worth your while to investigate all the ticketing options and book in advance, this can drastically reduce waiting times. Worth considering is going in the evening when things are a little quieter, but the real advantage in this is that London looks stunning once the lights are switched on.