£100m observation wheel development proposed for Newcastle

The World Wheel company plans to construct Europe’s tallest observation wheel on Newcastle Quayside as part of a £100m ($134m) project.

The observation wheel, dubbed “The Whey Aye” would stand 140m high, 5m taller than the London Eye. It would include a 10,000sqm LED digital screen as its centrepiece, which would be used to show social media content and advertising as well as information about local events.

According to the World Wheel Company, the wheel will offer 30-minute rides and will attract more than 800,000 visitors in its first year.

It is proposed that the wheel is built at the east end of the Quayside on the location of the former Spillers’ Flour Mill, which was demolished in 2011 and has lain vacant since.

Whey Aye £100m observation wheel development proposed for Newcastle Quayside by the World Wheel Company

A rendering of the Whey Aye observation wheel in the Newcastle skyline.

Alongside the wheel will be a 9,000sqm visitor attraction called the Giants of the North Experience. It will use virtual and augmented reality technologies to celebrate the achievements of the region’s creative and sporting legends as well as the shipbuilding and mining heritage of the area.

The plans also include a pedestrianised area featuring bars and restaurants, a family entertainment centre and a multi-purpose play and sports complex, with covered five-a-side pitches and tennis courts, as well as a state-of-the-art virtual golf club.

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

“Representing an overall investment of more than £100m, it will create up to 550 local jobs and deliver local building contracts worth in excess of £20m [$25.8m]. The developments will attract continued investment through more visitors spending an increased amount of time in the city and the region.”

Whey Aye £100m observation wheel development proposed for Newcastle Quayside by the World Wheel Company

Scale drawing of the Whey Aye compared to other regional landmarks.

The World Wheel Company has built and operated giant observation wheels around the world, including 120m and 90m wheels in Suzhou, China and Tbilisi, Georgia. It also operates more than 20 family entertainment centres across the globe.

A detailed planning application relating to the wheel and visitor attractions is due to be submitted to Newcastle City Council later this year. The entire development will take 18 to 24 months to build, once planning has been formally approved.

Images: c. World Wheel Company.