Yorkshire Museum Plans Observation Wheel

A giant observation wheel, approximately 60m high and offering panoramic views across Yorkshire, could once again be a sight on the York skyline.

Subject to planning permission, the wheel will be situated for a temporary period behind York Art Gallery, an area being developed to be included in the Museum Gardens. It is hoped the Great City Attractions (GCA) wheel will be in place for Easter 2011.

Mike Woodward, commercial director for York Museums Trust, said: “We are pleased to announce that York Museums Trust has held very positive talks with GCA about reinstating the York Wheel in the city centre.

“This would offer residents and visitors brilliant, unrivalled views across the city, to the Minster and beyond. GCA are about to apply for planning permission to position it at the rear of York Art Gallery, an area which has previously been derelict and closed to the public.

“The plans include new landscaping and a new connection to Museum Gardens, greatly increasing and enhancing the outdoor space open to the public.

“We know the wheel would boost visitor numbers to York and York Art Gallery would also directly benefit from the wheel. All profits coming to the Trust will be used exclusively for the development of York Art Gallery.”

The wheel is set to be placed on land behind the Abbey walls at the corner of Marygate and Bootham.

If planning permission is granted, the Trust will remove the derelict buildings and landscape the area to create a new public space in the heart of the city. There will be public access from both Exhibition Square and the Museum Gardens.

The wheel will be similar to the one which was positioned at the National Railway Museum from April 2006 until November 2008, which attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors.

A spokesperson for GCA said: “We are the world’s leading owner and operator of very high quality Giant Observation Wheels and we are very excited about once again having one in York.

“At no direct cost to the city, our wheels can generate great economical and educational benefits along with creating jobs.

“At a time when cities are competing intensely to improve their offer to visitors and are seeking ways to mitigate the effects of the global recession, hosting a giant temporary observation wheel is the perfect way to give York a visible edge, as well as providing the ideal vantage point for tourists to see all the other attractions on offer in the city.

“Our wheels are technologically advanced, virtually silent in operation and subtly lit with only white lights; they have been located next to scheduled monuments and in two World Heritage Sites, as well as in many distinguished European cities.”

If permission is granted, the wheel will be 60m high and have 21 capsules seating up to eight people each. These will be fully enclosed, air conditioned and heated, allowing for use year around. They are almost silent to operate and will take 14 days to install.

It has always been the Trust’s aim to open up the land behind York Art Gallery, allowing the public access to a historically important area, reconnecting the precinct of St Mary’s Abbey and creating a new route from the gallery and Exhibition Square to the Yorkshire Museum and Museum Gardens.

Image: An artist’s impression of the observation wheel provided by Great City Attractions, The Yorkshire Museum

Yorkshire Museum
Museum Gardens
York YO1 7FR
01904 687687
www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk

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