Posted 26 October 2011 by Andrew Gardner
It was all very low key but the Brighton Ferris Wheel was opened on Monday 24 October. Standing at 150 feet high with 36 gondalas the new wheel is located on Brighton seafront right beside the Brighton Palace Pier and opposite the Sea Life Centre.
I drove past the wheel yesterday and have to admit it closely resembles a minature London Eye and is attracting similar attention good and bad as did its bigger brother when it first opened. Supporters claim the £6 million wheel will attract 250,000 extra visitors a year as well as providing 30 jobs. I have to confess I see the positives since its benefit to tourism will spill out into Sussex as a whole and not just Brighton.
However anticipating the arrival of a wheel that stands 150 feet on the seafront understandably has drawn concern especially as it has been constructed in a conservation area surrounded by listed buildings. As well as being located next to the pier it also stands right beside the famous Volks Electric Railway that runs the length of Madeira Drive. Considering the railway first opened in 1883 running 0.25 mile between the Aquarium and the old Brighton Chain Pier that has long since gone, one can appreciate the concerns that have been raised. However the pier, the railway and the Sea Life Centre are all major tourist attractions so you could argue the wheel merely adds to what is already there.
The location does not directly overlook the residences in Kemp Town that lie between the Brighton Pier and Brighton Marina, and aesthetically it is not unattractive on the eye. In fact I have always found the London Eye an appealing structure to look at and I am certain that the Brighton Ferris Wheel will soon be as much a feature in Brighton as the London Eye is on the River Thames.