Weymouth seafront tower takes shape ahead of Olympics

Work is progressing on Weymouth's Olympic viewing tower

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A crane has lifted into place the top of Weymouth's new viewing tower in Dorset.

Crowds watched as the crown of the £3.5m seafront structure was put in place.

The 53m (173ft) tall structure will be open in time for the Olympics and give visitors panoramic views of Weymouth harbour, the Jurassic Coast and east Dorset.

More than 200,000 people are expected to visit it in its first year.

Built by Dorset company TG Cruse, work began on the tower in November and the first visitors are expected to enjoy the views from it in July.

Sections of the tower were transported from France and Hungary.

The central steel column was completed last month and assembled in five sections, each weighing 11 tonnes.

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

The crown, which was lifted into place earlier, also controls the engine which will drive a viewing gondola.

'Bird's eye view'

Merlin Entertainments, the firm behind the tower, is looking ahead to its full opening.

Mark Oakley, from the company, said: "The gondola is currently being pieced together at ground level and should be ready for its first test run in early May.

"It's an exciting time and people can finally see how tall the tower will be once it's finished. People will get spectacular views of Weymouth, Portland Bill and across to the east of Dorset."

Mr Oakley added: "They'll be some amazing panoramic views of the resort and visitors who come down during the Olympics will a get a bird's eye view of the sailing action."

Trips on to the top of the tower and back again will last between 10 and 20 minutes and cost visitors £8 each.

Weymouth and Portland will host the Olympic sailing events during the 2012 Games.

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