Jodrell Bank plans £20.5m visitor attraction

Jodrell Bank has announced funding for its new gallery building, which aims to promote and celebrate the observatory’s “world-leading place” in the history of astronomy.

The ‘First Light at Jodrell Bank’ project will cost a total of £20.5 million, with £12.1 million coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a further £4 million from the government.

Jodrell Bank Observatory, which is part of The University of Manchester, was founded in 1945.

It is the earliest radio astronomy observatory in the world still in existence and was a pioneer of radio astronomy.

The new facilities will house an exhibition and engagement space, incorporating the original fabric of the 1957 dish of the telescope; an auditorium for immersive digital presentations; an education hub; and a café.

Professor Teresa Anderson, director of Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: “This funding will transform visitor engagement with the heritage of Jodrell Bank. It will enable us to properly relay, reveal, interpret and explain our story, so that a wider range of people, locally, nationally and worldwide, can understand and appreciate the unique turning point that occurred with the emergence of radio astronomy.’’

Speaking during a visit to the observatory, prime minister Theresa May (pictured) said: “This funding award will enable Jodrell Bank to continue to inspire scientists in Britain for generations to come.”

Tourism and heritage Michael Ellis added: “Jodrell Bank is a globally important site that has helped to transform our understanding of the universe. This significant investment from government and National Lottery players will create a world-class visitor attraction and help inspire future generations in science and astronomy.”