Lost London – The Great Wheel at Earl’s Court…

March 13, 2015

Built for the Empire of India Exhibition at Earls Court, this 308 foot (94 metre) high wheel opened to the public on 17th July, 1895.

Measuring 270 foot (82 metres) in diameter, the wheel – which had 40 cars each apparently carrying up to 40 passengers – had a design based on that of the famous original Ferris wheel which had been built for the Chicago Exhibition of 1893.

Weighing 1,100 tons (including its eight column supports), it had taken a year to build with much of the work carried out at Maudslay, Son and Field in Greenwich before assembly on the site at the Earls Court Exhibition Ground (located on surplus railway lands).

The wheel, which took around 20 minutes to make a full rotation and was powered by two 50 horse power steam engines, remained in service for just more than a decade (there was at least one report of it getting stuck and stranding passengers for several hours).

Having carried more than 2.5 million passengers over its life, it closed in 1906 after last being used at the Imperial Austrian Exhibition. It was demolished just a year later.

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