World's tallest moving observation tower i360 in standstill after visitors rush to the bar

People stand inside the British Airways i360 viewing platform in Brighton, England.
People stand inside the British Airways i360 viewing platform in Brighton, England. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - The world's tallest moving observation tower, designed to withstand even the strongest gale force winds, was brought to a standstill when visitors rushed to get a drink at the bar, UK reports said.

The i360, a 162m high steel tower ringed by a doughnut-shaped glass observation pod which glides up and down several times a day, became unbalanced during the rush, newspapers said.

The tower, which opened last month on the historic seafront in the southern English tourist resort of Brighton, tripped into its safety mode during a private party last week when sensors detected the load shift.

"It was people moving from the north side to the seaward side because that's where the bar is," its architect David Marks told Brighton newspaper The Argus.

Some 200 passengers were stuck in the air for around two hours.

The attraction "is designed to allow people to move from one side to another but what we discovered was that the settings being measured had too tight a tolerance."

The design is meant to be a 21st-century take on the Victorian pleasure piers that characterise British seaside towns: this time, a vertical pier in the sky.

It is hoped that the attraction will further boost tourism in Brighton, a gem of 1700s and 1800s architectural grandeur.

Designed by Marks and his wife Julia Barfield, the tower is the sequel to their London Eye observation wheel, which opened in the British capital in 2000 and is one of its most popular visitor attractions.

The tower cost £46 million (S$82 million) to build. From the top, visitors can see for 42 kilometres along the coast and out over the English Channel.