Great Wheel of Earl's Court
The Earl's Court wheel was commenced in March 1894, when massive concrete footings were put in. Effectively completed in April 1895, it was not opened to the public until July. Its 300–foot diameter made it slightly larger than its predecessor. It weighed altogether 1,100 tons, of which the wheel itself accounted for 500 and the eight inclined columns supporting the axle 600. Originally there were to be 'recreation towers' on either side with lifts carrying visitors up to the axle, through which it would have been possible to walk, but this was not carried through. The wheel rotated by means of two 50 h. p. steam engines; a complete revolution, with interruptions so that passengers could admire the view, took twenty minutes. Each of the forty cars could accommodate forty persons, so that up to 1,600 could ride on the wheel together. In its life it conveyed two and a half million passengers. Despite an embarrassment when the wheel stuck for four and a half hours in May 1896 (the passengers were handsomely compensated for their ordeal and the episode spawned a music-hall song 'I've Got The Five-Pound Note'), its operations were uneventful and innocent. Few who travelled on it would have endorsed this pontifical verdict from The Builder: 'We have as little sympathy with this foolish kind of sensational toy as we have with Eiffel towers … It is only a pity that all the ability and cost expended in its construction should not be devoted to some more useful end than carrying coach-loads of fools round a vertical circle.' The wheel survived until 1906–7, when it had ceased to be profitable and Basset supervised its demolition.