1945: The Ferris Wheel in Tivoli

The first steel structure - the Balloon Ferris Wheel in Tivoli in Copenhagen
The Ferris Wheel in Tivoli

“Børge and I were on board one of the baskets during the test ride for the newly assembled structure. The wheel was going round at full speed when I suddenly realised with dread that the speed was practically twice of what it was supposed to be. The basket swayed dangerously but fortunately the brakes were designed to have maximum efficiency and we all returned safely to the ground after the wheel finally stopped”.

The quote is Johan Hannemann’s, taken from an article in an internal company magazine, where he explained a test ride in one of their first steel structures – the Balloon Ferris Wheel in the historic amusement park Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It was a challenging construction. The Ferris wheel had to be rotatable but spacious and comfortable at same time; it had to withstand transverse forces from the wind without wobbling and remain steady when braking.

Furthermore, a unilateral movable load had to be taken into consideration. And at the same time, they had to design a slender frame for the wheel so that the construction would not seem ungainly.

Fortunately, it did not take long to identify the issues that caused the rocky test ride, and The Balloon Ferries Wheel is still spinning today – at a proper speed.