Bristol may get its own version of the London Eye
BRISTOL may get its own version of the London Eye on College Green next summer.
Audacious plans are in place to put a 50-metre-high wheel in front of the Council House in 2011.
City tourism chiefs have been in discussions with Great City Attractions, the leading provider of observation wheels in the UK who operate the 40m-high tourism magnet on Beach Lawns in Weston- super-Mare as well as wheels in Liverpool, Sheffield, York, Manchester, Dublin and Brisbane, Australia.
Now Bristol wants in on the act by placing a wheel almost the same height as the BT Tower at Purdown in front of the Council House. At the top of the Bristol Eye, people will be able to look down on the top of Park Street, which is about 25 metres above College Green.
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Nigel Ward, head of global site development for Great City Attractions, told the Evening Post: "I can confirm we have been in discussions with Bristol City Council about bringing one of our wheels to the city at some stage in the future.
"The location is more suitable to a summer project than a winter project but we are still considering our options."
John Hirst, operations director for Destination Bristol, revealed the location in mind is College Green, next to Bristol Cathedral towards the bottom of Park Street.
"We are looking at summer 2011," he said. "But we haven't got as far as negotiating a price for them and discussions would then have to take place with Bristol City Council who manage College Green which is owned by the cathedral.
He is sure it would be a roaring success though.
"In Liverpool they have a similar wheel and I have heard from my counterparts it has been a huge success."
North Somerset County Council has been so impressed with the wheel, which first appeared in April 2009, it has ensured its return for the next five years.
Spokesman Zoe Briffit said: "The wheel has been fantastic for Weston and has provided a great land-
mark for the town especially after the loss of the Grand Pier."
Great City Attractions are coy about releasing any figures for their wheels; they pay to use the site and consider visitor numbers as confidential information.
But Ms Briffit told the Post an estimated 300,000 people went on the Weston wheel during the summer of 2009.
"Originally the Eiffel Tower was only a temporary attraction," said Mr Ward. "We often find we are asked to extend our wheel contracts."
In 2000 the 'London Eye' sparked a storm of interest in giant 'observation' wheels, distinguished from ferris wheels by having enclosed capsules for visitors to stand in. At 135m it is the world's largest cantilevered observation wheel, and has welcomed more than 36 million visitors.
Bristol's potential 'eye' is not quite in that league but it is likely to be 15m taller than Weston's, granting a unique vista of Bristol Cathedral, Brandon Hill, Park Street and south across to the Mendips.
The 32m high Cabot Tower on top of Brandon Hill is still closed for restoration works and the 68m high Wills Memorial Building at the top of Park Street does not have a public viewing platform.
So a Bristol wheel would offer a rare view of the city to those who do not have the time, inclination or fitness to amble up Brandon Hill.
Should a deal materialise, the wheel is likely to be similar in set up to the Weston one. It has 30 pods, capable of seating six adults and two children, plus one black VIP capsule with smoked glass windows offering a champagne ride for four people.
Prices for the normal ride, which offers four revolutions lasting around 10 minutes, are £6.50 for adults, £4 for under 16s and £15 for a family ticket.
A ride in the VIP pod is £45, or £65 with champagne, and lasts for 30 minutes.