A BIG wheel could return to the National Railway Museum in York, its original location in the city.
Talks are being held about bringing an observation wheel back to the Leeman Road site, more than five years after it was removed there and just months after its replacement was dismantled at the Royal York Hotel.
Freij International, which operated York’s previous wheel, is considering various options, The Press understands, including North Street Gardens next to the River Ouse.
The NRM has confirmed it is in discussions with the company about its possible return. About 1.2 million people rode on the 60-metre wheel which span at the museum between 2006 and 2008, when it was credited with boosting the attraction’s visitor numbers.
The 53-metre, 42-pod York Wheel subsequently opened in the grounds of the Royal York Hotel in December 2011. It was bought by Dubai-based Freij after the structure’s then owners, Great City Attractions Global, went into administration the following year.
It was originally due to be taken down at the start of 2013 but City of York Council extended its planning permission until last autumn, although the authority said any requests to keep it open after that were unlikely to succeed following complaints from residents of nearby Westgate Apartments.
Jim Lowe, the NRM’s visitor operations manager north, said: “We can confirm we are working with Freij International to explore the possibility of bringing the York Wheel back to the National Railway Museum.
"The wheel was a valuable addition to the museum during its stay between 2006 and 2008 and drew new and repeat visitors from all over the country. We are exploring a different site within our grounds, but at this time no definite plans are in place and we would, of course, follow the normal planning procedures.”
John Lowery, Freij’s UK operations director, said: “As we said when we left York last year, it is a city we want to operate in.
“There were difficulties with the wheel staying at the Royal York Hotel, but we would have loved to stay there. We have been looking at different options in York for the wheel and we will continue to do so.”
York’s former wheel is now based in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. After it left the NRM in 2008, attempts to find an alternative location at North Street Gardens, St George’s Field and next to the Museum Gardens all failed before the Royal York Hotel site was chosen.