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First Light Pavilion officially opened by UK Ambassador to UNESCO

11 Jul 2022

Jodrell Bank’s First Light Pavilion was officially opened by Her Excellency, Laura Davis on 21 June, marking the occasion of the summer solstice

First Light Pavilion opening

The sun shone as around 100 guests were welcomed to the iconic Jodrell Bank site and invited to tour the new building. The development of the Pavilion followed Jodrell Bank’s formal recognition as a site of Outstanding Universal Value when it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2019.

The unique structure is a 76m diameter grass-topped dome that mirrors the shape and scale of the dish of the Lovell Telescope. Created to open up the site’s inspirational heritage, inside there is a state-of-the-art permanent exhibition on the pioneering stories of Jodrell Bank, and a 130-seat immersive auditorium.

Speaking at the ceremony, Her Excellency Laura Davies said: “What an absolute privilege to officially open the First Light Pavilion here at Jodrell Bank, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that brings science, education and culture together like no other.”

She also congratulated the team behind the project saying: “You’ve all contributed to something extraordinary which will endure and open minds across generations and countries.”

David Renwick,Director, England, North, The National Lottery Heritage Fund also spoke at the event, thanking National Lottery players for raising funds for the project. “We’re delighted to have supported the opening of the First Light Pavilion, something we couldn’t have done without National Lottery players. We’re sure that this state-of-the-art visitor attraction will delight and inspire all of its visitors, including the next generation of scientists and engineers to follow in the footsteps of Sir Bernard Lovell.”

President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nancy Rothwell also spoke at the event: “This bold and ambitious project has been a great success. It is a huge testament to Professor Teresa Anderson and her staff and many others within the University for their amazing work.”

After Her Excellency Laura Davies had unveiled a plaque marking the special occasion, guests were then invited to witness the first alignment of the Pavilion’s meridian line. A brass-lined glass cutaway in the building’s façade reveals the light of the sun as it shines through and across the floor of the entrance. At 13:11, local astronomical noon on the summer solstice, the sunlight aligned to a central marker just as planned, to cheers and applause.

Teresa Anderson, Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement has spearheaded the project throughout and said of the occasion “It was wonderful to celebrate our journey towards the First Light Pavilion with so many partners and supporters on the summer solstice. It’s a project that has involved an incredible team of creative, skilled and committed people, all of whom have put their hearts into it.

"The result something really special and unique – there is nothing like it anywhere in the world - and it will stand at Jodrell Bank for generations to come, offering people of all ages a chance to be inspired by our place in the universe.”

First Light at Jodrell Bank is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, The UK Government (DCMS), The University of Manchester, and a number of kind donors including The Wolfson, Garfield Weston, Denise Coates, and Stavros Niarchos foundations.