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Big wheel rolls off after towering over Belfast for three years

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Wheel taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Lord Mayor Naomi Long said that it was disappointing that the wheel had to go

Lord Mayor Naomi Long said that it was disappointing that the wheel had to go

The dismantling of Belfast's Big Wheel at the city hall

The dismantling of Belfast's Big Wheel at the city hall

Belfast's Big Wheel almost dismantled

Belfast's Big Wheel almost dismantled

The Belfast Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

The Belfast Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

Wheel is taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

One of the last families to get a ride on the Big Wheel - Paul McManus and his daughters Kaitlin (6), Erin (5) and Beth (3) from Lurgan enjoying their ride on the Big Wheel for the last time.  April 11, 2010.

One of the last families to get a ride on the Big Wheel - Paul McManus and his daughters Kaitlin (6), Erin (5) and Beth (3) from Lurgan enjoying their ride on the Big Wheel for the last time. April 11, 2010.

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

Operator Jenny Smith shuts off the power in the control room on the Big Wheel for the last time.

Operator Jenny Smith shuts off the power in the control room on the Big Wheel for the last time.

JUSTIN KERNOGHAN

John and Christopher Davis, from Bessbrooke at the Big Wheel. April 11, 2010.

John and Christopher Davis, from Bessbrooke at the Big Wheel. April 11, 2010.

Last day for Belfast's Big Wheel. Sunday  11th April 2010, was the last day of operation of the Belfast wheel.

Last day for Belfast's Big Wheel. Sunday 11th April 2010, was the last day of operation of the Belfast wheel.

Matt Mackey

Big wheel at City Hall

Big wheel at City Hall

Belfast's 'Big Wheel'

Belfast's 'Big Wheel'

Onlookers look on as a man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

Onlookers look on as a man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

A man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

A man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

A man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

A man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

A man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

A man climbs to the top of Belfast's Big Wheel

Belfast's Big Wheel

Belfast's Big Wheel

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Wheel taken down from the Belfast City Hall grounds

It turned into one of the best known landmarks in Belfast in the three years it was in the city, but only took four days to disappear from the skyline.

The major operation to dismantle the massive 60m high wheel, which came to the City Hall grounds in 2007, took a team of 25 experts.

Sections of the huge structure—worth £3.5m— were slowly taken apart by Great City Attractions, the company that owns the wheel, with pedestrians and motorists witnessing it vanishing bit by bit.

But the wheel, which had its last spin at 6pm last Sunday, had split public opinion.

Many thought it a great tourist attraction which boosted the city.

The Lord Mayor Naomi Long said it had been “a real asset”.

It had originally been scheduled to stay for just six months, but its popularity saw its stay extended.

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But others felt it was “out of place” in the City Hall grounds.

Members of the Belfast Titanic Society believed the structure, based beside a memorial to those who died in the 1912 disaster, was in an inappropriate location. Talks about moving the wheel to Belfast's Titanic Quarter did not materialise.

But, controversy aside, it had become the backdrop for many photographs and documentaries promoting the city and lit up the sky during the popular Christmas Continental Markets. The 200-feet high attraction drew various celebrity visitors, including Gavin and Stacey stars James Corden and Matt Horne.

Nigel Ward, head of new sites development with Great City Attractions, would not say where the wheel was headed next.

But he said they felt “proud” it had been spinning in Belfast.

“We have been absolutely delighted and proud to have had a wheel in Belfast,” he said.

“It became a symbol of the very positive changes that have taken place in Belfast over recent years.

“The wheel was used in many documentaries as an icon to show how the city had changed over the years.

“The people of Belfast welcomed us with open arms and we were delighted to be there.”

He added that there was a possibility it might be back to the city “some time in the future”.

“There is always hope, because we never say never,” he said.

“Obviously the wheel is moving on elsewhere and given the high demand we have for them, who knows where and when it will turn up next? But I’m sure we would like to return to Belfast at some time in the future.”

Wheel facts

  • A team of 25 people from around the world were part of the dismantling process.
  • Belfast’s Big Wheel was erected in August 2007. It could hold up to 330 people.
  • The 42 glass gondolas included a VIP pod.
  • A ride lasted 15 minutes.
  • Other locations that have had a Big Wheel include Birmingham, Manchester, Seville, Dresden, and York.


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