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First Light Pavilion wows first 1,000 visitors

14 Jun 2022

Jodrell Bank’s newest attraction, the First Light Pavilion opened its doors to visitors for the first time over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, with over 1,000 people exploring the stunning new building

Space Dome

Teresa Anderson, Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement, said: “It was a huge moment finally to welcome visitors to the First Light Pavilion and see all our hard work pay off. I’m delighted to have reached this milestone and grateful to everyone that supported us on this journey.”

The First Light Pavilion is a £21.5m development supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and has been years in the making. It follows Jodrell Bank’s recent recognition as a site of Outstanding Universal Value when it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2019. The First Light Pavilion was created to tell the inspirational stories of Jodrell Bank’s world-leading contribution to science, heritage and culture.

Highlighting its global reach, the first visitor had travelled all the way from Boston, US.  Matt had taken a red-eye flight arriving in Manchester that morning before driving straight to Jodrell Bank. An Atmospheric Science student at MIT, Jodrell Bank was also the 150th World Heritage Site that he’s visited!

Others had come from right across the country including from Glasgow, Essex, Plymouth and Norwich. A visitor commented on the experience: “The whole day was marvellous, an experience I will never forget. Every moment was captivating and utterly enjoyable. From the initial welcome, to the beautifully designed and totally absorbing new Pavilion.”

Julia Riley, Head of Interpretation and Engagement was welcoming visitors into the building over the weekend. Julia said: “It was a delight to see people’s reactions to what we’ve created here at Jodrell Bank. It's just been so well received by everyone and its wonderful to see.”

The architecturally stunning building, created with international architect firm Hassell, takes the form of a grass-topped dome that cleverly mirrors the shape and scale of the dish of the famous Lovell Telescope. It also contains a meridian line, referencing the age-old tradition of building structures that align with the skies above us,much like other World Heritage Sites such as Stonehenge.

Inside the tardis-like building, is a new permanent exhibition which brings visitors into direct contact with huge sections of the authentic metal dish of the Lovell Telescope that has ‘listened’ to the skies since 1957. The exhibition, created by Casson Mann, tells the inspirational story of Jodrell Bank’s pioneering scientists and engineers. Through a range of fully interactive digital displays and projections, visitors are able to uncover archive materials brought together for the first time including audio, film, plans, photographs and more.

Every visitor also has the opportunity to experience an immersive audio-visual spectacle in the Pavilion’s Space Dome, a state-of-the-art auditorium complete with nine projectors and a giant curved screen. The Space Dome also hosts traditional planetarium-style shows ‘touring’ visitors around the stars and planets.

All this is in addition to everything that Jodrell Bank already has to offer and visitors can continue to get up close to the giant Lovell Telescope, enjoy a Telescope Talk, explore exhibitions on the mind-blowing science of Jodrell Bank, and enjoy the 35 acres of grounds at this stunning Cheshire attraction.