The Marble Arch Observation Wheel was one of the city’s most unexpected surprises of 2015. Yet barely anything of the wheel was mentioned by the media. Not one report on its construction or its opening it seems. The only time the wheel made the news was when it broke down. The wheel was managed by Underbelly Events – whose website at the time also said nothing of the giant ferris. Work began in mid July. On the 15th on-site preparation was sufficient to enable the steelwork to be erected. The wheel was intended to be in operation until August 2015, but this was later extended to the end of September 2015, which showed it indeed was a success of some sort. Nevertheless it was always somewhat underused and never had the huge draw ferris wheels usually have.
A picture of the wheel that I took from a passing bus. The structure is roughly two thirds built. 16 July 2015.
During the evening of 16th July, the wheel was almost complete. Workmen can be seen on the bottom section preparing for the final segment. The illumination lights were already working at this stage and these were lit up as this picture taken a little bit earlier shows.
This picture was again taken on the 16th. I returned to the site much later in the evening as darkness began to fall.
View of the wheel, late afternoon Friday 17th July 2015, showing the construction access point for lorries. All 36 cabins are now in place.
The complete wheel seen from the Marble Arch fountains.
The wheel opened on 18th July 2015. Initial advertising indicated it would be in operation until 10 August. Incidentally an extension was gained and the wheel operated until September 2015. A recreational area with seats and a cafe was provided. The wheel soon made its way into the national & local news for the first time when a breakdown occurred just days after it opened.
Below: MarbleArchLDN’s Tweet showing views from the wheel.
Below: The view looking over Marble Arch and the west end of Oxford Street towards the Telecom Tower (from the MarbleArchLDN tweet)
The wheel’s malfunction on Sunday 19th July 2015:
About 8pm one of the cars malfunctioned and the wheel was halted for safety purposes. Over 50 people were stuck on the wheel and the fire brigade had to bring those stuck on the faulty pod down via ladder. The remainder were brought down by rotating the wheel carefully.
Vitor Gava’s tweet (Vitimgava_) shows the fire brigade rescuing passengers from the faulty pod.
Other tweets about the wheel:
Clearly a lot of people had misgivings about a huge ferris wheel at such a prime location!
At the time of writing this post (30/31 Jan 2017) the Marble Arch Wheel website was still up 🙂
This post was in fact written in 2015 but it got lost! However the files for it were rediscovered and the post was reconstructed in 2017. It was slightly updated in 2021.