Learn About London: The London Eye

Posted Oct 8, 2012

(Photo courtesy of AP Images)

In a city filled with historic sites and places to visit, it’s one of London’s newer attractions that has captured the imagination of visitors since it opened in March of 2000.

The EDF Energy London Eye provides visitors a unique opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the city via a contemporary version of a ferris wheel that allows visitors to see the entire city.

Below is a look at the history of the London Eye as well as facts and figures courtesy of the official website of the London Eye.


Since opening in March 2000 the EDF Energy London Eye has become an iconic landmark and a symbol of modern Britain. The London Eye is the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction, visited by over 3.5 million people a year.

A breathtaking feat of design and engineering, passengers in the London Eye's capsules can see up to 40 kilometers in all directions.

The London Eye is the vision of David Marks and Julia Barfield, a husband and wife architect team. The wheel design was used as a metaphor for the end of the 20th century, and time turning into the new millennium.

Back in 2000, the London Eye was known as the Millennium Wheel. At that time, British Airways was the main sponsor, and up until November 2005 they were joint shareholders with Marks Barfield Architects and The Tussauds Group. British Airways also privately funded the London Eye project from the early stages of conception.

Today, the London Eye is operated by the London Eye Company Limited, a Merlin Entertainments Group Company.


It’s hard to believe, but when The EDF Energy London Eye was launched as The Millennium Wheel, it was only going to be standing for a few years. But today, the London Eye has become a symbol of modern Britain; it is the UK’s number one paid-for visitor attraction and film set for TV shows and movies.

Along the way, there have been plenty of milestone moments, have a look on our timeline below.

January 2011

The London Eye enters a new partnership with EDF Energy and becomes the EDF Energy London Eye.

November 2010

The London Eye launches the first ever open air ice rink on the south bank, in the shadow of the London Eye.

December 2009

We continue to make history with the 36 million flights on the London Eye.

August 2009

The London Eye launches a spectacular new 4D Experience.
The London Eye goes through a re-branding.

May 2009

The London Eye launches its capsule upgrade program with removal of the first capsule in London.

June 2008

We made history with the 30 million flights on the London Eye.

May 2008

The London Eye River cruise celebrated its millionth guest.

March 2007

The 25 millionth visitor was welcomed to the London Eye

March 2007

The London Eye became part of the Merlin Entertainment’s Group, the world’s number two visitor attraction operator.

February 2006
The London Eye was finally granted a 25 year lease agreement.

December 2005

The first civil partnership was performed on the London Eye. To mark the occasion, the London Eye was turned pink.

March 2005

The London Eye had its fifth birthday - 7,000 quarter bottles of Laurent-Perrier Champagne and 3,000 bottles of orange juice were given away so customers could join in the party.

February 2004

The London Eye kept turning until midnight for the first time to give lovers a romantic moment on St. Valentine’s Day.

September 2002

Our 10 millionth flight took place.

August 2002

The London Eye River Cruise was launched, quickly becoming a favorite way to see London from the River Thames.

February 2002
A new idea for Valentines Day and lovers - wedding packages allowing people to get married on the London Eye were introduced.

January 2002

The Euro was accepted at the London Eye

March 2001

The London Eye celebrated its first official birthday. During the first year alone, more than 3.5 million people came on board to fly above London.

March 2000

The London Eye officially opened to the public

October 1999

The London Eye was raised over the River Thames

Late 1998

Construction started on The London Eye, a huge international effort involving hundreds of people.


It took seven years and the skills of hundreds of people from five countries to make the London Eye a reality


You can see around 40KM (25 miles) from the top as far as Windsor Castle on a clear day


The London Eye welcomes an average of 3.5 million customers every year. You would need 6,680 fully booked British Airways Boeing 747-400 jumbo jets to move that number of fliers!


The London Eye can carry 800 passengers per revolution - equivalent to 11 London red doubled-decker buses


Each of the 32 capsules weighs 10 tons. To put that figure into perspective, it's the same weight as 1,052,631 pound coins!


Each rotation takes about 30 minutes, meaning a capsule travels at a stately 26cm per second, or 0.9km (0.6 miles) per hour - twice as fast as a tortoise sprinting; allowing passengers to step on and off without the wheel having to stop


The circumference of the wheel is 424m (1.392ft) - meaning that if it were unraveled, it would be 1.75 times longer than the UK's tallest building - One Canada Square in Canary Wharf


The total weight of the wheel and capsules is 2,100 tons - or as much as 1,272 London black cabs!


The height of the London Eye is 135m (equivalent to 64 red telephone boxes piled on top of each other) making it the fourth tallest structure in London after the BT Tower, Tower 42 and One Canada Square in Canary Wharf


The spindle holds the wheel structure and the hub rotates it around the spindle. At 23 meters tall, the spindle is around the size of a church spire and, together with the hub, weighs in at 330 tons: over 20 times heavier than Big Ben

All information courtesy of , the official website of the EDF Energy London Eye.