What is it about the London Eye that is so special?
The London Eye: nestling incongruously between the traditional old buildings of central London it refuses to discretely become part of the backdrop but towers above the skyline and can be seen for miles, boldly demanding our attention. And it certainly gets it – it’s one of the top things to do in London: on average the London Eye receives more visitors per year than The Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower. Writing for the Guardian Steve Rose explains that it announces to the world that Britain is not stuck in the past, but that we’re looking ahead and that we still have something to offer.
Perhaps we love the London Eye because it shows us our city? Unless you’re a wealthy executive with a pent-house suite, or an intrepid window cleaner, most of us only get to see the capital from ground level, but when we’re choosing things to do in London a trip on the London Eye enables all of us, of all ages and abilities, to see all of London, right to the city’s limits and the countryside beyond.
So how well do you know this beloved icon? Here are 15 top facts for you to test your knowledge…
15 Facts about the London Eye
- Supermodel Kate Moss has been on it 25 times, which is the record for a UK celebrity. But she’s not the only celeb who loves it, according to Londonist in 2016 Matt Damon made at least five trips on it as did singer Meghan Trainor.
- Movie buffs will have spotted it in numerous films and TV programmes. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix it was the background to a wizard chase scene. In Wimbledon, actors Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany filmed a scene in a capsule and in Doctor Who it was used as a control device for the Nestene Consciousness.
- More than 3.5 million people check the London Eye out every year making it the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK and one of the top things to do in London.
- It isn’t actually a ferris wheel. For the techies amongst you it is in fact the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel supported by an A-frame on just one side, and the carriages don’t hang below.
- Each capsule weighs as much as 1,052,631 pound coins
- According to The Evening Standard one of the passenger capsules was named the Coronation Capsule to mark the 60th anniversary of the coronation of our queen. Next time you’re in the area look out for the big red one!
- It can carry 800 people in each rotation – the same as 11 red double decker buses.
- There are 32 capsules on the Eye representing the 32 boroughs of London.
- Capsules travel at a leisurely pace of 26cm per second, which is twice as fast as a tortoise sprinting!
- The initial plan was that it’d be a temporary structure for 5 years for the Millennium, but thanks to its financial success, Lambeth Council granted it a permanent licence.
- When it received its permanent licence The Southbank Centre filed a dispute against it because one of the struts hovers over a bit of its concrete. After a lengthy legal battle, a lease agreement between both parties was finally agreed in February 2006 – the Eye just needs to pay The Southbank 500k a year for the privilege!
- On a clear day you can see as far as 40 kilometres in all directions.
- It was lit pink in celebration of the first Civil Partnership performed on the wheel in December 2005.
- For superstitious reasons there is no capsule numbered 13, instead they’re numbered 1 to 33. Would you travel in number 13, 135 metres above the capital?
- It’s part Skoda! According to Londonist it was dreamt up by a UK design team, but its parts come from all over Europe including the iron spindle and hub which were cast in the Skoda factory in the Czech Republic.
Special things to do in London
And finally did you know that if you’re looking for very special things to do in London, you can hire your own private capsule for the ultimate romantic gesture; for a proposal, marriage, celebrating an anniversary or having a party? Follow the link to see what’s on offer… Private Capsules at the London Eye.