Jodrell Bank World Heritage Site’s new visitor attraction

March 14, 2022 Published by Alex McCoskrie

The First Light Pavilion, Jodrell Bank’s highly-anticipated new attraction, is set to open to the public on 4th June 2022.

The stunning new building is at the heart of the £21.5m First Light Project, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which aims to open up the inspirational history of Jodrell Bank by engaging visitors with the fantastic stories of its pioneering scientists and their ground-breaking feats of science and engineering.

The launch of the new Pavilion will firmly establish the Jodrell Bank site, which is part of The University of Manchester, as a major UK cultural destination, fitting for its uniquely multi-dimensional status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, national visitor attraction, cultural icon, and globally significant scientific research facility.

The First Light Pavilion was designed by the award-winning architects HASSELL Studio to respond sympathetically to its unique surroundings. The striking building takes the form of a grass-topped 76m diameter dome which cleverly mirrors the shape and scale of the landmark Lovell Telescope.
By maintaining an age-old tradition of building structures that express our relationship to the skies above us, the building also makes reference to ancient sites such as Stonehenge, by aligning with the sun via a meridian line cut through the dome’s entranceway. Facing due South, a slim vertical window right in the centre of the building invites the sun to shine through a finger of light that moves across the entrance foyer as the day goes on, acting as a giant sundial.

Inside the new Pavilion, visitors will be able to engage with the site’s rich heritage in a brand new permanent exhibition. Created by leading exhibition designers Casson Mann, the First Light Exhibition will bring to life the Jodrell Bank story which dates back to 1945 and the birth of a whole new science: the exploration of the Universe using radio waves instead of visible light. Visitors will also be able to experience vivid planetarium-style shows in a custom built auditorium, complete with a curved projection screen and an impressive 9 digital projectors. The state-of-the-art Space Dome will offer every visitor an immersive audio-visual experience with a specially commissioned film about the history of Jodrell Bank.

A series of preview and pilot activities for First Light will begin from March 2022 onwards, with public opening set to take place on 4th June 2022. The launch will be complemented by a celebratory summer-long season of community engagement activity, public events, and a new formal education programme.

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.

Images – artist’s impressions of the new First Light Pavilion at Jodrell Bank © HASSELL Studio