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Big attraction will give great views

PUBLISHED: 10:38 14 July 2008 | UPDATED: 11:24 03 July 2010

For nearly two centuries the magnificent view of sea, rivers and countryside has been jealously guarded by the haughty figure of Britannia atop Nelson's Monument.

For nearly two centuries the magnificent view of sea, rivers and countryside has been jealously guarded by the haughty figure of Britannia atop Nelson's Monument.

But from next weekend visitors to the neighbouring Yarmouth Pleasure Beach will have the chance to savour the same panorama - from the top of a 40-metre big wheel.

Albert Jones, boss of the seafront attraction park, has entered into a joint venture with the company World Tourist Attractions to deliver the £3m scheme for Norfolk.

What Mr Jones described as the “Rolls-Royce of wheels” will be delivered by lorry this morning in 14 containers from the port of Harwich.

Manufactured in Germany by specialist firm Ronald Bussink, the wheel will take two or three days to assemble and is likely to be up and running by next weekend.

Mr Jones said last night: “Since we got planning permission for a wheel two years ago, we have looked all over the world to find the right one. We did not want to bring a carnival wheel to Yarmouth because we did not think it would have sufficient impact.

“With our weather conditions we wanted a scaled down version of the London Eye and that is what we have got - the gondolas you ride in are completely enclosed.”

Mr Jones struck the deal for the wheel, which is creating nine seasonal jobs, at the annual conference of the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions in Germany last month.

World Wide Tourist Attractions, based in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, operates wheels across the world and in this country runs them in Manchester, York, Belfast and Greenwich. It was unsuccessful in its bid to bring one to Norwich two years ago.

Mr Jones said: “We are expecting to attract thousands of visitors from all over East Anglia for the nearest wheel to London and for views second to none with no big buildings to block the panorama.”

The ride, costing £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children, will take 12 minutes and elevate people to virtually the same height as the top of Nelson's Monument (44m).

As well as the timeless views enjoyed by Britannia, the wheel will offer unrivalled views of more recent landscape features, such as the Scroby Sands windfarm and the outer harbour which is rapidly taking shape.

On a clear day, with binoculars, the spire of Norwich Cathedral - more than twice the wheel's height at 96m - is likely to be within view.

Mr Jones said: “The wheel will attract a completely different age group from the normal visitors to the Pleasure Beach. It will be a major draw for senior citizens and disabled people.

“There will also be the chance to book a VIP cabin for a special occasion such as an engagement.”

He said the wheel would be in place until the end of September and another - possibly bigger - would be returning next summer.

A spokesman for World Tourist Attractions said they were delighted to be bringing one of their giant observation wheels to Yarmouth in association with Yarmouth Pleasure Beach.

He said: “Each of our observation wheels is ultra modern with fully enclosed air-conditioned eight-seater capsules.”

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