London Eye 18 important facts you would love to know about this symbol of London

London Eye | 18 important facts you would love to know about this symbol of London

On any given day, the London Eye elegantly rotates over the River Thames along the beautiful Southbank. A long queue awaits anyone (if you don’t have a skip-the-line ticket) who wishes to experience the breathtaking 360-degree views across the City. While a trip to London Eye is a “must-do” for most visitors to London, many would not know all of the facts about the structure which has become a symbol of London. So, for added value to your trip to London, here is a list of 18 important facts which tells you all about the London Eye.

While we work hard to be accurate, and provide the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.

1 | How did London Eye come about

London Eye at night
London Eye at night

London Eye was an idea put forward by husband and wife, David Marks and Julia Barfield. The couple responded to a competition in 1993 which asked Londoners to design a new landmark for the City celebrating the millennium. The idea of a wheel caught on and the official opening of London Eye was on 31 December 1999 in time for the millennium. However, due to a capsule clutch problem, the iconic observation wheel did not open till March 2000. A little late but that’s quite alright!

2 | London Eye should not still be here

As the above, the structure was built especially for the Millennium. Therefore it was meant to be a temporary attraction. It was planned to stand on the River Thames for no longer than 5 years. However, due to its financial success, Lambeth Council granted a permanent licence for its operation.

There was yet another challenge for its continued presence. The Southbank Centre served an eviction notice to the London Eye in 2005. The dispute centred around a strut hovering over a bit of concrete owned by The Southbank! After a lengthy legal battle, a 25-year lease was finally agreed between the parties in February 2006, ensuring the landmark’s survival. The Eye just needs to pay The Southbank 500k a year. The monies supports the centre’s comprehensive annual arts programme, which is not a bad thing.

3 | What is London Eye? Is it a “ferries” wheel?

The London Eye is Not a Ferries wheel!

London Eye: Capsules.London Eye

The London Eye is ​one of the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel. This is because the Eye is supported by a single A-frame. As well, the capsules are outside the wheel rim instead of hanging low, hence the difference with a ferries wheel.

4 | How heavy is the London Eye

The entire structure weighs 2,100 tonnes. The structure was assembled flat and moved onto eight temporary islands on the River Thames. It was raised into place in September 1999.

5 | How tall is London Eye

Although it stands at 135 metres (443 feet) high and has a diameter of 120 metres (394 feet), the Eye is not the tallest structure in London! The tallest building in London is the Shard at 310 metres (1,004 feet). The circumference of the London Eye is 424 metres (1,391 feet) which means if it weren’t a wheel, it would actually be taller than the Shard.

Even though it is not the tallest structure in London at present, it was the tallest structure and observation wheel when it was constructed. The London Eye is now the 4th tallest observation wheel in the world.

The top three tallest observation wheels are: High Roller at 168 metres (550 feet) in Las Vegas; The Singapore Flyer at 165 metres ( 541 feet) in Marina Bay; Star of Nanchang at 160 metres (525 feet) in Nanchang Star Amusement Park.

6 | Who owns the London Eye

This iconic landmark of London has seen a few ownership pass-by. Originally owned by British Airways, Marks Barfield and the Tussauds Group, led to the Tussauds Group becoming the sole owners in 2006. The Tussauds Group was sold to Blackstone in 2007 which became Merlin Entertainments Groups. So, London Eye is now owned by Merlin Entertainments Group (Merlin).

Merlin signed a sponsorship agreement with lastminute dot com who took over from Coca-Cola as headline sponsors of London Eye. It is a three-year deal which took effect as of February 2020. This gives lastminute dot com full naming rights and will see the landmark lit up in the travel brand’s corporate pink colour.

7 | How long does it take to ride the London Eye

A full rotation of the London Eye takes 30 minutes to complete. It travels at a leisurely speed of 0.6 miles per hour. This leisurely ride gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views over London. The slow rotation also allows for visitors to board and disembark at ease without the wheel coming to a halt.

8 | How many capsules on the London Eye

London Eye
London Eye with its 32 capsules standing on its A-frame

The Eye has 32 capsules. Each represents the 32 boroughs in London. but they’re numbered from 1 to 33.

9 | Superstitious

Whether you believe in superstition or not and as with many buildings and structures, there is no number thirteen. The capsules skip from 12 to 14.

10 | Capsule #2 is Coronation Capsule

London Eye Coronation capsule

The second passenger capsule on the London Eye is known as the Coronation Capsule. This is in honour of the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Yeap, you got it – its Red! The only capsule in colour.

11 | Is London Eye a popular attraction

Very popular! Without a doubt, the London Eye is the most popular paid attraction in London welcoming almost 4 million visitors a year. The most popular Free attraction in London is the British Museum which sees more than 6 million visitors each year.

Amongst it’s visitors are celebrities who have taken more than one ride! Jessica Alba has gone on the Eye 31 times and Kate Moss, 25 times.

On average the Eye supersedes the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Giza in annual visitor numbers.

12 | Can you hire the Eye for private events?

Absolutely yes! The Eye has been a popular venue for engagements, weddings, pop-up dining spots and a rotating nightclub!

According to records held by the organisers, there had been more than 500 weddings and more than 5,000 people have held their engagement on the Eye since it opened. The first wedding is recorded to have been held in 2001.

13 | Upgrade for a “sparkling” experience!

To really make your London Eye experience sparkle, enjoy a glass of Pommery Brut Royal champagne while you relax and enjoy the sublime views of London.

14 | How many people can the Eye accommodate

Each capsule can take about 25 people. This means that the London Eye can carry 800 people each rotation.

15 | What to experience on a day ride

London Eye: Unobstructed views of the Houses of Parliament
Unobstructed views of the Houses of Parliament

There are many places to see on the River Thames or as you stroll the Southbank but none can compare to the views from the top – onboard the London Eye.

You will see most of London landmarks. Unobstructed views of Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Parks and so many more, as far as your eyes can see!

At its pinnacle of 135 metres, this largest cantilevered observation wheel gives you mesmerising 360-degree views of the City, laid out before you with views reaching as far as Windsor Castle, 25 kilometres away, on a clear day. Being so high up means that you can watch the River Thames stretch all the way to the horizon and the edge of the city limits.

16 | The London Eye is not the first big wheel in London

The London Eye had a predecessor. Simply known as The Great Wheel which was in working order from 1895 – 1906. It was a 40 car ferris wheel modelled on the original design from Chicago. It was 94 metres (308 feet) in height and 82.3 metres (270 feet) in diameter.

17 | A popular feature in movies

The London Eye had been featured in many movies. In 2002, it was in 28 Days Later, 2004’s Thunderbirds and in Harry Potter, 2007 – Order of the Phoenix and in 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2.

Harry Potter Tour from Kings X

If you are planning on a Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour when visiting London, note that this tour is a sold out event. You Must prebook well in advance to secure a visit. Take a look at availability below:

Book Harry Potter Studio Tour from London

18 | View the exact replica of the wheel

A short journey from London, about 48 kilometres (30 miles) away an exact replica of the wheel can be found, in miniature form.

Legoland - Picture from Get Your Guide
Image: GYG

Explore options to experience Legoland Windsor from London

Legoland Windsor has a scale model of the Eye as part of its Miniland exhibit, which also features models of the Palace of Westminster, the Millennium Bridge, and Buckingham Palace.


Practical information for when visiting the London Eye

Location and opening times as follows:

The London Eye
Riverside Building
County Hall
Westminster Bridge Road
London
SE1 7PB

Opening times varies due to Covid-19 lockdown measures, This space will be updated as soon as the attraction reopens.

Nearest Underground stations

The London Eye is located within easy walking distance from several London Underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster.

Waterloo is the closest tube station and is located about five minutes walking distance. Exit the station following signs for the South Bank.

Embankment and Charing Cross stations are close together on the north side of the River Thames. Both tube stations are a ten-fifteen minute walk to reach the destination.

Westminster tube station is the closest station to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. From Westminster tube station, take exit one and follow signs for Westminster pie

Purchase your tickets before your visit

With almost 4 million visitors a year, the London Eye is a very popular attraction. It is strongly recommended that you purchase your tickets online prior to your visit. Pay a little more and buy the skip-the-line ticket so you don’t have to wait in line. Sometimes queues can be for an hour or more. You do not want to spend long periods of time waiting when you can be maximising your time to sightseeing. In addition, if you are travelling with kids, you may not want to put them through the wait as well.

Peruse the following ticket choices and buy them before you travel and enjoy the 24-hour cancellation rights afforded to travellers by our trusted partner.


On a final note…

To be honest, in terms of London landmarks, London Eye sits alongside St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and the British Museum. It is big, it is the number one paid attraction by visitors and the views are spectacularly beautiful. To top it off, you can hire a capsule all for yourself and your group of friends for special occasions or simply upgrade for a personal experience over a glass of champagne. Design your experience for your next visit and have a fabulous time.

While visiting London, don’t miss out on the countryside – do a day trip to Stonehenge, or Windsor and combine it with a visit to the Cotswolds or Bath. If you have more time, go to Isle of Wight, the largest island on the south coast of England. Here are some choices for you.


If you are from abroad and plan to visit some of the iconic English Heritage sites across England, you may find the English Heritage Overseas Visitors Pass to be of great value – free access to 100+ sites for one price. A great value membership of the English Heritage is also available for UK residents. Peruse choices by navigating the links below.

Sincerely hope that this post is valuable to you in planning your visits to the London Eye? If so, please use the links embedded in this post and related posts to book your experiences. TTS earns a commission from qualifying purchases, and as always your support is greatly appreciated to keep this blog going. We would love to hear your thoughts, please share them in comments below or via Contact Form. Stay connected and Subscribe to join us at Timeless Travel Steps to receive all the latest news and events.


Have a great time exploring London 🙂

xoxo

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London Eye - 18 facts
London Eye

London Eye 18 important facts you would love to know about this symbol of London first published at timelesstravelsteps.com in June 2020 and is regularly updated

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Sitting at 135m along the beautiful Southbank and handsomely rotating over the River Thames is the delightful London Eye, a masterpiece, and a symbol of London. But there are some facts you did not know about this cantilevered observation wheel via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Sitting at 135m along the beautiful Southbank and handsomely rotating over the River Thames is the delightful London Eye, a masterpiece, and a symbol of London. But there are some facts you did not know about this cantilevered observation wheel via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Southwark Cathedral London – Why you should visit this Oldest Gothic Cathedral in London

Southwark Cathedral – Why you should visit this Oldest Gothic Cathedral in London

has a very special fulltime resident!

Southwark Cathedral London is an Anglican Church and is located in the South Bank of River Thames. Located just next to the Borough Market which is a thriving environment and easily accessible via London Bridge Station [see below on Useful information]

Southwark Cathedral London | A magnificent Gothic Cathedral and a historical masterpiece

This magnificent Cathedral boasts a Gothic architecture and a history that goes way back to 606 AD where people have come here to worship. It was once, the site of Roman pagan worship. . The original site was mostly destroyed by fire in 1212 but there are remnants of original Norman construction of ragstone rubble, chalk and lead. These Norman influences can be seen in the rounded arches at the back right of the Cathedral and the arched doorway that leads into the church. The distinguishable medieval Gothic elements can be seen in parts of the front of the Cathedral as well.  

Southwark Cathedral London | A significant place of worship and hospitality

The magnificent exterior architecture of Southwark Cathedral, London
The magnificent exterior architecture of Southwark Cathedral, London | Image: georgina_daniel

Described “as ‘thin places’ where you can glimpse and touch a little bit of heaven and experience something of the hospitality of God”, Southwark Cathedral is truly a remarkable Church. In my travels, I have visited many Cathedrals, but this was something else…there was a sense of peacefulness at this Church which I had not experienced elsewhere before.

I learnt that back in the day, this Priory was important to London not just as a place of worship but also because it was a place for education and hospitality – John Gower, the poet, once lived here. His tomb is located in the north aisle of the nave of the Cathedral. It is a brightly coloured tomb – you will not miss it. 

Learn more about John Gower

Southwark Cathedral London: The splendid interior

The incredible Gothic architecture
The incredible Gothic architecture of Southwark Cathedral, London | Image: georgina_daniel

The interior of the Cathedral boasts another splendid sight. The incredible architecture with its intricate details, the curves, the alcoves and the stained glass windows…there are no special words except that it is simply “beautiful” – see ⇓⇓. The vaulted ceilings are a Must See! With the sunlight coming through into this large and airy space, it makes walking through the Cathedral a very relaxing experience.

The stained-glass windows – splendidly beautiful with the sun shining through. 

Southwark Cathedral - Stained-glass windows
Southwark Cathedral – Stained-glass windows | Image: georgina_daniel
Southwark Cathedral - Stained-glass windows
Southwark Cathedral London – more stained-glass windows

Hope that I have convinced you enough to visit Southwark Cathedral, but if not, then I am certain the following attraction will – a visit to the member of the Southwark Cathedral family…

Doorkins Magnificat at Southwark Cathedral London

I visited Southwark Cathedral a couple of times since last summer, and besides the stained-glass windows, the breath-taking Gothic ceiling and its history, the highlight of my first visit was Doorkins Magnificat. I was with MT, who took a picture of this adorable furry baby, asleep in her bed. Doorkins is 12-years old and she likes to sleep. She does not like to be disturbed as she would be grumpy! She has been part of the Cathedral’s family since 2008 and has her own line of merchandises, her story book and a twitter account [@DoorkinsM].  To read more on Doorkins, click here

Doorkins Magnificat
Doorkins Magnificat ~ found herself a permanent home at the Southwark Cathedral London

Other highlights at Southwark Cathedral London

  • Shakespeare’s Memorial and window
  • The Harvard Chapel
  • The Herb Garden
  • The Archaeological Chamber

Travel tips and Useful information on Southwark Cathedral London

Opening times:      08:00 to 18:00

Entry – is FREE

Photography permit – £1.00 and it comes with a Souvenir Guide

Fully accessible for wheelchair users and limited mobility users.

Getting to Southwark Cathedral London:

The best way to get here is by the Underground or Trains. The nearest Station to Southwark Cathedral London is London Bridge, less than 5-minute walk.

Exit London Bridge, onto Tooley Street.  opposite the Hay’s Galleria. Cross-over and head west towards London Bridge Hospital. Walk-under London Bridge and past the London Tombs and Mudlark Public House. You will reach the courtyard on the north side of the Cathedral.

Address: London Bridge, London, SE1 9DA

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7367 6734

https://cathedral.southwark.anglican.org

Buy tickets for your train journey from Trainline

Trainline in Britain and UK is one of the best platforms offering cheap, competitively priced tickets for comfortable and timely journeys. Purchasing a ticket through Trainlline is convenient because of their user-friendly App and tools that comes with it.

Continue reading About Trainline in Britain and UK

Finally…

With so many sights in London to see and a gazillion things to do, Southwark Cathedral often goes unnoticed by tourists. A beautiful attraction, it is a place I would recommend and sincerely hope that this post has been valuable to you in planning your visit.

Have a splendid time discovering London!

March 2021, Update


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A synopsis of history on the oldest Gothic cathedral in London and take a peek inside of its magnificent architecture along with its full-time resident via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/A synopsis of history on the oldest Gothic cathedral in London and take a peek inside of its magnificent architecture along with its full-time resident via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/