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Manchester Re-Invents The Wheel

Karen Regn talks to Councillor Pat Karney about Manchester's Big Wheel dilemma.

Written by . Published on February 13th 2012.

Manchester Re-Invents The Wheel

AS a re-vamp is planned for Exchange Square, Manchester’s iconic Big Wheel is getting the boot. 

Now, planners are stumped as to an appropriate place to reconstruct the 60-metre, 300-tonne steel attraction.

Manchester’s Big Wheel is, for the moment, homeless.  

If no space can be found for the wheel, there is a possibility that it won’t be re-built in Manchester city centre. And that would be sad indeed.

The wheel, which will serve its last passengers on April 15, and then will be dismantled and re-located.  Although there are discussions about moving the wheel to Edinburgh temporarily, Manchester City Council and owners Great City Attractions are keen to find the wheel a permanent home here in the city centre. 

The eviction precedes changes to Exchange Square, with both short term and long term plans coming into play

In the run-up to the London Olympics, Exchange Square will be re-designed to house a giant screen and serve as a public viewing space for the Games. 

In the long term, plans for the space include a Metrolink stop as part of the system’s on-going expansions - check out the Metrolink video here..  As such, there’s little chance that the big wheel will be able to return there.

The city centre has a paucity of large open spaces suitable for an installation this size, and though Piccadilly Gardens seems an obvious option, the large number events that take place there throughout the year make perhaps Manchester’s highest-profile spot a no-go.

“It’s the modern image for the city,” he said. “Whereas you used to see the Town Hall, now you see pictures of the Big Wheel on pamphlets and things like estate agents’ advertisements.”

If no space can be found for the wheel, there is a possibility that it won’t be re-built in Manchester city centre.

And that would be sad indeed, said Councillor Pat Karney.

“A wheel-less Manchester would be a real shame,” said Cllr Karney. “I’m a wheel person– meaning I really like our wheel, even though I’ve never been on it. I’m terrified of heights, so I give these kids I see of six or seven years old a lot of credit for riding it.

“It’s the modern image for the city,” he said. “Whereas you used to see the Town Hall, now you see pictures of the Big Wheel on pamphlets and things like estate agents’ advertisements.”

The Wheel Needs To RollThe Wheel Needs To Roll

The councillor invited Confidential readers to suggest a suitable place for the wheel.

Suggestions thrown around the ManCon office were the top of Beetham Tower to make it extra higher. Pat Karney would really hate it then.

Or maybe in the new Greengate square over the river from the Manchester Cathedral and technically in Salford.

“Obviously, it would have to be somewhere with a lot of footfall,” said the councillor (too bad for our Beetham Tower idea). 

“The Exchange Square site has been brilliant because of all the shoppers coming into the area. So, the space would need to be reasonably prominent.”

Readers are welcome to leave comments here with suggestions as to possible Big Wheel locations - feel free to be as absurd as possible.

Burning it's last - the Big WheelBurning its last - the Big Wheel

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55 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Scrap it and spend a little money on protected bike lanes instead. This will make a real difference to visitors, residents, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists while making the city a more pleasant place to walk around.

Jordan McDowellFebruary 13th 2012.

I've never liked it. Why have a smaller version of what London has. Do something different and have a Bungie Jump platform! Either that or erected it in St. Ann's Square?

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Move the big wheel to Heaton Park? (@nod_off via Twitter)

TrevoeFebruary 13th 2012.

The big car park next to the Village where they usually have the Pride festival

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Get rid. It's a money burner. (@pickerchu via Twitter)

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Calum McGFebruary 13th 2012.

In what way?!

the Whalley RangerFebruary 13th 2012.

It did not pay rent to the council last year, remember?

Janice SlaterFebruary 13th 2012.

What about the redundant building site on the other side of the Rochdale Canal from the Village, where West Properties were supposed to put that posh hotel.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

How about abandoned building site on Canal St? (@ugottaseeher via Twitter)

Alice DodgsonFebruary 13th 2012.

I think there's only one obvious place and that's to move it out of Manchester city centre altogether which is pretty much packed anyway. The Quays is the obvious place. It would look a real landmark there and make the place even more of a tourist attraction. Maybe right on the Trafford bank of the Ship Canal over from the Lowry Outlet mall and close to Old Trafford. It'd then have huge media profile as well being the backdrop to United's ground and close to MediaCityUK.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
user1770February 14th 2012.

I agree it would fit in to the Quays much better, never thought it sat right in the city, just a smaller copy of a London landmark. I thought it was meant to be temporary anyway?

Mum And Dad XFebruary 15th 2012.

Splendid suggestion I think it would be ideal there, I have been on the Wheel a few times so I don't want it to be scrapped

Julie JohnsonMarch 13th 2012.

This isn't a bad idea. The quays could use more attractions to help liven the area up, and there would be nice clear views into the distance as well as the nearer buildings like Old Trafford.

You might have the footfall problem, but maybe the media luvvies could go for a ride in their lunch breaks. :)

In town the view is a bit spoiled by all the ugly rooftop air-con ducting, etc.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

How about at Salford Quays near Media City, with all the influx of people there now the wheel will be a great addition. (Christian Le Feuvre via Facebook)

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

It needs to stay in the city centre!!!! (Gaynor Edwards via Facebook)

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Melt it down and spend the cash on the roads. (Vicky Bridge via Facebook)

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Piccadilly Gardens (The Prison Yard). (Daniel Adamson via Facebook)

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Good idea - Piccadilly (ugly) Gardens (Kathleen McCann via Facebook)

EugeneFebruary 13th 2012.

Put it in the river Irwell and use it as a modern day water wheel to power the businesses in town...plus put the scrotes in the capsules, they will come out smelling much better

1 Response: Reply To This...
user1770February 14th 2012.

At last a sensible suggestion!

Calum McGFebruary 13th 2012.

Get rid of it, permanently - and replace it with the twice-the-size version that was talked about in 2010. The wheel is OK but really not that big, so the views aren't great. At the mo you're better off spending £7 on a cocktail in the Beetham Tower and getting a far better view. Think big and build us a bigger and better, permanent wheel :) - location TBD I'm afraid, cos I can't decide.

LukeFebruary 13th 2012.

I would like to see the wheel relocated on top of the Arndale where you would get great views.

ConmanFebruary 13th 2012.

This is probably the only part of the Occupy Movement I am glad to see evicted.

For 5 long years we have had to endure this privately owned business exploiting one of the few public open spaces people can enjoy in the city centre.

On top of that, the thing is ugly, derivative and far too large for the space it was sited in.

Big wheel - bugger off.

ConmanFebruary 13th 2012.

Ok, serious suggestion, can we relocate it to the surface of the sun maybe?

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

I think they should either make it go faster or relegate it to the suburbs. Rochdale, for example. (@thunderbloke via Twitter)

HeadjackFebruary 13th 2012.

I dismissed this first time I thought of it, but it's growing on me. How about St Anne's Square? Has footfall, relatively small buildings around wouldn't obstruct the view, and the shape of the space is the same as the footprint of the wheel. You couldn't have the events there in the same way you have now but if you're creating a new public space by the cathedral then that off-sets it. I'm not sure it would fit down New Cathedral Way but that has similar arguments.

1 Response: Reply To This...
HeadjackFebruary 13th 2012.

And... I've gone off it again. How about First Street, to go along with the new arts centre?

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Trafford Centre car park - they actually welcome visitors rather than charging them to park! (Karen Higginson via Facebook)

Claire HydeFebruary 13th 2012.

First Street is a good idea and if it meant knocking down those ludicrous statues all the better...

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

How about in front of GMEX ( or whatever its called now)

TimmachineFebruary 13th 2012.

put it on its side, cover it in plastic, and you have a big umbrella.

AnonymousFebruary 13th 2012.

Get rid, every tin pot city has one so it isn't an 'iconic' Manchester landmark at all, it's just another me too waste of space.

1 Response: Reply To This...
angelsFebruary 15th 2012.

Wouldn't call Paris a tin pot city nor Manchester and its in a very confined space so good use of space in my view. The big screens will be the cause a big eyesore when the beerswilling litter throwing public have finished viewing each event.How much will that cost to keep the city clean ?I'd rather see a permanent feature that is a talking point rather than the aftermath of a temporary event as a talking point for the city.

nataflea86February 14th 2012.

Picadilly gardens! X

ConmanFebruary 14th 2012.

There was once a silly big wheel
The Council said "come here, we'll cut you a deal"
But it got in the way;
went bust, did not pay!
Now we're shut of it hip hip hooray!

1 Response: Reply To This...
HeadjackFebruary 14th 2012.

My English Lit teacher would have clipped you. Limericks have a very strict rhyming scheme: AABBA

Philip IrvingFebruary 14th 2012.

Anything that makes the city better for tourism should stay. the Wheel did that. We should keep it.

crispy40February 14th 2012.

Does Manchester Confidential have any figures about whether the wheel actually made any money, or was a drain on council money? (I've always assumed the latter as there's never anyone on it!)

TopchefFebruary 14th 2012.

Spinningfields would be a great site and would increase footfall for the shops in this area, currently not to busy.

Simon BoothFebruary 14th 2012.

The wheel is an eyesore and a pale copy of the London Eye.

It is a poor fairground attraction - and the best you can hope to see is the Arndale Centre and a view of all the Air Conditioning units.

Spoilt a beautifully designed square with a shoddy ride - get rid.

Richard HJFebruary 14th 2012.

I love this story. If only it could come up every year. Oh wait...

suzyblewFebruary 14th 2012.

and do you know why so many cities have them? They are fun and provide family tourist attractions. There is too much snobbery on here. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean plenty of other people shouldn't enjoy it.

Put one twice the size into Media City and get someone better to the narration like Bill Roache over Mike Toolan. How fab would it be to look over the new Coronation Street!

Simon WardFebruary 14th 2012.

Someone has already suggested my idea. put it on that eyesore abandoned by west properties opposite the New Union. Not only would it make use of that wasteland, a family friendly attraction would hopefully improve the daytime business around the area and maybe help convince the city to do something about the undesirable elements that have wrecked the village.

SteveFebruary 14th 2012.

It is great to have a high vantage point for tourists and city dwellers alike to view the city and beyond but the wheel is just a poor imitation of the London eye and is in totally the wrong location, spoiling exchange square with its tatty 'temporary' appearance. I also wonder if it made money from passengers or is it just an advertising base for the MEN.
Manchester deserves something unique like the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. There was a tower scheme on the front page of the MEN a few years ago. As for location, it needs to be in the southwest of the city centre so the sun is behind when viewing the city. This I guess makes Spinningfields a good location.

jacFebruary 14th 2012.

Keep it in the city centre, Media City wont ahve enough footfall - its great over thers but a different kind of tourist attraction to the wheel I know Picadilly gardens has stuff going on during the year but SOMETHNG HAS TO BE DONE ABOUT THE HIDEOUS WALL WHICH WRAPS AROUND THE GARDENS IT IS AWFUL!!Use the wheel , open up the space and bulldose that bloody wall ,it's a a public space not a cold war checkpoint!!

AnonymousFebruary 14th 2012.

Add it to the development at First Street, along with Cornerhouse and Library Theatre ... plenty of space, and it will be another attraction to bring people to the area.

AnonymousFebruary 14th 2012.

There ar just as many things go on in Spinningfields as Piccadilly Gardens. Screenfields, pop up bowling, ice rink...
They're turning the Green by RBS into a car park, so it can't go there.

anneiaFebruary 14th 2012.

I dont think its best placed near the shambles I would never go on it anyway but some folk like it defo better in piccadilly gardens much less traffic and more ground. also it would give much better sightseeing of manchester that it does now. remember guys size doesnt matter. ............

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2012.

What about off Peter Street - near the ABC cinemas - might there be enough space there?

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2012.

How about where the Twisted Wheel club used to be???

RobertFebruary 15th 2012.

how about the gardens behind Urbis ?

Nicholas CallaghanFebruary 15th 2012.

that monstrosity of wasted space opposite the village.. not used as flats now, was a car park!! and we need MORE green spaces in the city centre too...

mike_aFebruary 15th 2012.

In front of the Great Northern Warehouse would be a good idea (behind Bar38), there's nothing much going on round there at the moment.

Reader XxxFebruary 15th 2012.

I would strongly support taking it out of the city centre...possibly to MediaCityUK or somewhere joining Manchester with Salford...is there empty land by Salford Central Station/Trinity Way that could be used to bridge Manchester and Salford as sister cities?

Just a Thought !!!

AnonymousFebruary 15th 2012.

Who cares where it goes? It's only a ferris wheel. Just as long as it doesn't clutter up any of our major public spaces.

I'd rather our councillors and planners concentrated on improving the tourist offer as a whole rather than getting fixated on something as trivial as this. I'm sure the wheel's operators are perfectly capable of negotiating a suitable, privately owned site.

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