EXCITED families rolled up to take a spin on Clacton Pier’s new observation wheel - and they loved it.

A wide range of ages made the most of the 33-metre high ride over the weekend, which was a bumper one for the attraction.

Work started on putting up the wheel last Tuesday and it was swiftly completed within three days by the Elegant Wheel Company.

It went through its final checks and tests on Friday and was ready for customers first thing on Saturday morning.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

The Masters family enjoy the ride

The Masters family from Southend were the first to take to the skies - and they hailed it a resounding success.

“It was amazing up there and a brilliant experience,” said Mr Masters, who took his daughter and two grandchildren on the ride.

Clacton Pier director Billy Ball was delighted with the feedback, which he said was very positive and warmly welcomed.

“There were young children right up to great grandparents and it was great to see them having fun in the sun on the Clacton Pier Wheel Experience,” he said.

“We really want this to be an attraction that the whole community, and beyond, can come and enjoy.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

The big wheel is lit up at night

“For the rest of June from Monday to Friday customers will be allowed on there for just £1.50 - a penny for every year the pier and the town have been existence - rather than the full price of £3.

“If there is a group of six – no more than four adults – they can have a car for £5, again half price during that period.”

Mr Ball added that all NHS staff will be able to have a free ride on the wheel for the rest of June. All they have to do is show their NHS card.

“This is a small thank you to them for the incredible sacrifice they have made for all of us over the past year or so,” he said.

“Our wheel provides fantastic views of the coastline, countryside and neighbouring towns and we want as many people as possible to have the chance to make the most of our latest offering.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Pier director Billy Ball tries out the ride

The wheel has 24 cars, and can take up to 144 people at one time.

It is called the Clacton Pier Wheel experience and can be open seven days a week from 9am to 10pm.

A new shellfish and seafood unit for Tubby Isaacs will be returning to the forecourt later this month once it has been completed.

The previous building was removed earlier this year to make way for the wheel.

Clacton Pier was built in 1871 and attracts almost one million visitors each year.

It has seen massive investment in recent years, including new rides, tenpin bowling, a family arcade, adventure golf and children’s soft play.

The pier said that it is also on track for its new Looping Star roller coaster is now complete on the west ride deck and it is aimed to have the ride operating in time for the school summer holidays.

The pier’s observation wheel has opened just a month after neighbouring Clacton Pavilion launched its 30-metre-high wheel.

The wheel has been installed to mark the town’s 150th anniversary.

Billy Peak, owner of Clacton Pavilion, said he hopes it will attract visitors to the town this summer for its “momentous milestone”.

“It is impressive as a sight and provides unrivalled views of the sea and landscape,” he said.