First Steps to First Light…

We’re thrilled to announce that work on our highly anticipated First Light Project will begin later this month with preparatory landscaping taking place in the gardens of Jodrell Bank.

First Light, which has been generously supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and DCMS, will be a truly transformational project for the Discovery Centre and will allow us to develop the much-loved site into a world-class visitor attraction.

Alongside an enhanced programme of community engagement and education activities, the project will see the creation of a spectacular new building discreetly nestled in our ecologically-diverse gardens. This new multi-purpose space will help us engage more people with the stories behind Jodrell Bank’s heritage, its pioneering scientific and cultural history, and its global significance in the development of radio astronomy.

After years of hard work, we’re very excited to be able to begin in earnest and we can’t wait inspire even more children, families and visitors with the unique heritage of Jodrell Bank.

The preparatory works required to make way for the development will involve some grounds clearance and tree felling. This will enable a service road to the location of the new building, allowing us to prepare the ground for construction.

We’ve been sure to minimise any impacts of this initial work by creating the new road along a route of an existing clearing. Meanwhile, our Cheshire Orchard will be protected from the construction works, along with the veteran Oak trees which were here long before the Observatory. Our tree collection will remain extensive too, with over 3,000 trees and shrubs, including 200 Champion Trees noted for their local and national importance, being unimpeded.

Further landscaping works beyond this stage will be supported by the planting of replacement trees and wildflowers as part of our commitment to sustainability. We’ll also host a range of volunteer-led activities to restore habitats throughout the grounds, and any chippings and offcuts from felled trees will be recycled across the site.

This important project milestone also kickstarts a new volunteer programme dedicated to supporting the cultivation of Goostrey Gooseberries, helping to revive a long standing tradition in our neighbouring community.

The gardens will be closed until Friday 5th April but after that will remain open as usual, although access to areas where tree felling is ongoing will be restricted.  You can find out more about the project, including news and developments here.