Why do people visit the London Eye? Well, it provides an unparalleled experience of seeing a 360-degree perspective on London. Although we won’t actually board the wheel on our Westminster and Changing of the Guard Tour, we will pass the London Eye in all its glory. Therefore, many of our customers wish to discover the London Eye facts, as well as the top visiting London Eye tips. If you’re still not convinced about why to visit the London Eye, read on to discover some of the most fascinating facts about the London Eye.

It Wasn’t the First Big Wheel of London

Although it’s now the most famous big wheel in London, it wasn’t the first one. In fact, the Great Wheel preceded the London Eye. This was a 40-car Ferris wheel in Earl’s Court that was built for the Empire of India Exhibition. The wheel was modelled on Chicago’s original Ferris Wheel and opened publicly on 17 July 1895. It was 82.3 metres (270 feet) in diameter and 94 metres (380 feet) tall, and it stood in Earl’s Court until 1906 when the Imperial Austrian Exhibition occurred. Over the 11 years, the cars carried upwards of 2.5 million passengers.

It’s the Tallest “Ferris” Wheel in Europe

Today, the London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe; however, it was once the tallest across the globe. It stands 135 metres (443 feet) tall, making it now the fourth tallest Ferris wheel in the world after Las Vegas’s High Roller (168 metres), the Singapore Flyer (165 metres), and the Star of Nanchang (158 metres). The London Eye was also once the highest public viewing point in London; however, this title was claimed by the 72nd floor of the Shard on 1 February 2013.

It’s the UK’s Most Popular Paid Tourist Attraction

Every year, 3.75 million people embark on a London Eye visit. As a result, the London Eye is the most popular paid tourist attraction throughout the whole of the UK. Meanwhile, the British Museum is the most popular free attraction, with six million visitors attending every year.

It Was Intended to be Temporary

As with the Eiffel Tower, the London Eye was built with the intention of being temporary. It was built to stand on the ground of Lambeth Council on the banks of the Thames for no more than five years. Despite this, July 2002 saw Lambeth Council grant the Eye a permanent licence. This caused a dispute with the Southbank Centre, which owns the land under one of the struts. Despite this, the Eye was granted a 25-year lease on 8 February 2006. This lease agreement guarantees that the Eye will provide the Southbank Centre (a publicly funded charity) with at least £500,000 annually.

It Opened Late

Some may remember the London Eye being built to celebrate the millennium; however, it didn’t start carrying public passengers until 9 March 2000. Primarily, it was opened by Tony Blair on 31 December 1999; however, one of the capsules encountered a clutch issue, which meant it rotated without passengers, and the opening was postponed for a month.

It’s Part Skoda

Of course, it was a UK design team that conceived the London Eye; however, it’s crafted from materials from all over Europe. For instance, the wheel itself was developed and built in the Netherlands using UK steel, Italian cables, and German bearings. What’s more, the hub and iron spindle were cast in the Czech Republic’s Skoda factory. Similarly, cable-car specialists in the French Alps crafted the capsules, while the double-curved laminated glass of the pods was produced in Venice.

A Representation of London’s Boroughs

The London Eye is comprised of 32 capsules, and each is said to represent one of London’s 32 boroughs. Despite this, these capsules aren’t numbered in the way you might imagine; since the number 13 is believed to be unlucky, there’s no 13th capsule. Instead, the capsules are numbered 1 to 12 and then 14 to 33. This is common practice throughout Britain, with most restaurants not containing a number 13.

It Has a Royal Capsule

Of the 32 capsules, one of them is royal. On 2 June 2013, one of the capsules was renamed the Coronation Capsule in honour of Queen Elizabeth II reaching 60 years on the throne.

The London Eye isn’t Its Only Name

Although most of us know it as the London Eye, London’s illustrious wheel also goes by the name of the Millennium Wheel. Similarly, over the years, it has had many official names to honour its many sponsors and owners. For instance, it was initially deemed the British Airways London Eye, then the Merlin Entertainments London Eye, and then the EDF Energy London Eye. As of January 2015, it has officially been called the Coca-Cola London Eye, though it’s not likely you’ll hear anyone call it that.

The Lights of the London Eye

We’ve seen the London Eye light up the sky on various occasions to mark a number of special occasions. From the red, white, and blue that commemorated Prince William and Kate’s wedding to the pink that celebrated the legalisation of gay civil partnerships in 2005, the London Eye captures the feelings of the British public via its lights. As of December 2006, the lights were switched out for LED lighting, facilitating digital control of the lights.

Discover the London Eye on a Westminster and Changing of the Guard Tour

As one of London’s most notable landmarks, we couldn’t possibly miss the London Eye on our Westminster and Changing of the Guard Tour. Learn more about the experience and book in for a private tour today.

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