British Airways London Eye, the world’s biggest observation wheel, celebrates its first anniversary today (Thursday March 8).
Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, and Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge, Chairman of British Airways, joined celebrities and VIP’s on a special birthday flight on the London Eye to mark the event.
A new 2.4 metre diameter Jubilee Walkway Trust stone panoramic rondel was unveiled to commemorate the day and a thousand balloons released with 365 free tickets for the London Eye attached. A cake in the shape of the 450 ft high attraction, made by Jane Asher, also featured in the ceremony.
Lord Marshall said; ” The London Eye has established itself around the world as a new icon - another leisure and tourism initiative of which London can be justifiably proud. It was the ‘turn’ of the century and the year 2000, winning a string of prestigious awards for its architecture, design excellence and engineering.
“It has given new perspectives on the capital to Heads of State, Heads of Government, film stars, musicians, media and sports stars and thousands of ordinary visitors - families, pensioners, schoolchildren and tour groups who have all made it London’s most popular visitor attraction.”
Lord Marshall also pledged £1 from every adult ticket and 50p from each child ticket sold on the day to charity, and joint funding with the South Bank Centre to renovate Jubilee Gardens playground for the local community.
In its first year it has:
* Attracted 3.5 million visitors - far exceeding the initial estimate of 2.2 million.
* Turned 9,855 times.
* Each capsule has travelled 2,660 miles - the distance to Moscow and back.
* Has become a must see experience for a host of celebrities including Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Tom Hanks, Calista Flockhart, Gene Hackman, the British Olympic team, the Tweenies and over 100 Santas.