History -  First Glimpse

In August 1970 the first visit was made. The wheel was the first destination upon arrival. The museums would have to wait (as an eight year old this suited me just fine). The Wheel was clearly the same design as the Skegness wheel, but the superstructure was better illuminated than its Lincolnshire cousin. Each arm was brightly lit by coloured fluorescent tubes and each seat had its own lights. It was a very impressive sight viewed from over Southsea common. Earlier that year the Skegness wheel had been modified and had brand new fibreglass seats added-these made the Southsea (metal) seats look a little old fashioned in comparison. Clearly these wheels were in a major battle for my affections.

Over the next decade I visited Skegness each year, and Southsea from 1975-1979. In 1971 the Skegness one stopped turning on its base, some of its "improvements" had made it too heavy to turn reliably, the Southsea wheel kept turning in both directions until 1977 when it too stopped. I remember asking the operator "Why doesn't it turn anymore? He gave me one of those "what are you talking about" looks, before stating that it was "broken". I had to ask "Would it be fixed?" To which he said "Probably"- it never was again.

Over the years from 1977 to the mid 1980's I visited regularly. In fact I made the important academic decision to go to Portsmouth Polytechnic to study Electrical / Electronic Engineering. I could have gone to North Staffs, Brighton, Sheffield or Portsmouth. There was only ever going to be one winner.

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 © Richard A. Ryan 2008. 

Skegness fibreglass seat
Skegness wheel - fibreglass seat

Old type metal seat
Southsea wheel - metal seat

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