Attractions industry news

21 May 2018

Europe's tallest observation wheel planned for Newcastle

Forget the London Eye, Newcastle’s ‘Whey Aye’ is set to outdo its southern sibling by becoming Europe’s tallest observation wheel.

The 140-metre-tall (459-foot) attraction, which will be located at the east end of the city’s Quayside and offer 30-minute “flights”, will be five metres taller than the London Eye and takes its nickname from the oft-heard Geordie phrase, “Whey aye, man”.

Around the observation wheel – which is expected to welcome 800,000 guests in its first year – a pedestrianised area with bars, restaurants and a brand new visitor attraction will be built. The attraction, Giants of the North Experience, will use state-of-the-art technology to tell the stories of some of the northeast’s greatest citizens, including sports stars, musicians and artists, and pioneers of industry.

The World Wheel Company is behind the project, with the firm already responsible for giant wheels in Suzhou, China, and Tbilisi, Georgia, as well as more than 20 family entertainment centres globally.

“This is without doubt one of the most exciting investment and regeneration projects in the UK, if not the world,” said Phil Lynagh, CEO of World Wheel Company’s Newcastle operation.

“Representing an overall investment of more than £100m (US$134m, €114m), it will create up to 550 local jobs and deliver local building contracts worth in excess of £20m (US$27m, €23m). The developments will attract continued investment through more visitors spending an increased amount of time in the city and the region.”

Lynagh added: “It will also further enhance the North East’s global reputation for technological and industrial innovation whilst celebrating Tyneside’s heritage and supporting its future.”

The Newcastle observation wheel will feature a 10,000 sqm (108,000 sq ft) LED digital screen at its centre, designed to display local information and digital art, social media and marketing content and advertising.

Alan Shearer, former Newcastle and England footballer and TV pundit, has supported the plans, saying “it would be great news for Newcastle”.

“It’s just what the city needs,” Shearer said. “A new iconic attraction that celebrates our rich history and culture, while creating jobs and income for the people. A development like this would have my full support.”

The proposed site is the location of a flour mill that was demolished in 2011. A planning application is to be submitted to Newcastle City Council later this year. The development will take up to two years to build.

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