Our Ferris Wheel started life in the ownership of the Wheatley family from Scotland, We purchased the ride in late 2006 from John Wheatley whos father had purchased the ride new in approximately 1963 and had travelled the ride around Scotland and the north of England.
Originally you would have had to build the the ride up completely from the ground up, but they had it trailer mounted many years ago to save a lot of time and work and travelled it as a drawbar trailer. We fetched it back from Glasgow as a drawbar, but that was to be the first and last time in our ownership as it was decide that we would convert it in to an Artic load.
The first booking was going to be Easter so we then started on major refurbishment, first the ride was strip down then we started by adding airs bags to the trailer so it travelled better on the road. The front signs came off to be replaced with more Traditional
looking signs with Traditional paint work (You can see pictures of the front being painted in the paint shop page) and more lights added to make it glow at night.
We decide to replace all the lights that make up the star and circle so they match our Carousels (yellow/orange) so the order was placed for them. The cars had a little rub down,touch up and varnish and I think just about everything on the truck was cleaned greased or painted. We just about made it time for Easter with the help of some good friends.
We thought it might take us a couple on seasons to build up a run of events for the Big Wheel and we did not expect it to go out much the first season 2007. However the bookings soon started coming in and it attended corporate hire and private hire events in North Wales, Scotland, Wiltshire, London, The Midlands, Canterbury (where the had two Ferris Wheels together at the end of the Tour de France, London
leg, with the idea that they would look like a big bike).
I'm glad to say in '08 it carried on where it had left off in '07 with more bookings including the Marks & Spencers Fashion Fairground advert, Dolmio stir in pasta sauce ad campaign and a top music producer wedding. He had Supergrass playing before the speeches and guests including the lovely Zoe Ball, Mark Ronson and Norman Cook AKA DJ Fat Boy Slim, I think we enjoyed it as much as their guests did.
The Ferris wheel is named after George Washington Gale Ferris. He
was a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania bridge-builder. He began his career in the railroad industry and then pursued an interest in bridge building. Ferris understood the growing need for structural steel and founded G.W.G. Ferris & Co. in Pittsburgh, a firm that tested and inspected metals for railroads and bridge builders.
Ferris designed and built the first 264 foot (80 m) wheel for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago Illinois in 1893. The wheel was intended as a rival to the Eiffel Tower the centerpiece of the 1889 Paris Expo This first wheel could carry 2,160 persons. The Ferris wheel was the largest attraction at the Columbian Exposition, standing over 250' tall and powered by two steam engines. There were 36 cars, accommodating 60 people each (40 seated, 20 standing). It took 20 minutes for the wheel to make two revolutions - the first to make six stops to allow passengers to exit and enter; the 2nd, a single non-stop revolution - and for that, the ticket holder paid 50 cents. When the Exposition ended, the Ferris Wheel was moved to Chicago's north side, next to an exclusive neighborhood. William D Boyce filed an unsuccessful Circuit Court action against the owners of the wheel, to have it moved. It was then used at the St Louis 1904 World's fair and eventually destroyed by controlled demolition in 1906. At 70 tons, its axle was the largest steel forging of the time. It was 26 stories tall.
In 1893 W E Sullivan visited the Expo and was amazed by what he saw. He had his own bridge building company, Eli Bridge and He decide he would make his own Wheel and enlisted the help of J H Clements and together they started their first Wheel which made it's debut in March 1900 at Jacksonville, Central park. It was so successful By 1906 they had start mass producing them and the company Eli Bridge is still going strong today after 108 years.