back to article Jodrell Bank gets swanky visitor centre, infuriating maze

Jodrell Bank, home to the Lovell radio telescope, is getting £3.1m in funding to build a new visitor centre, cafe and maze. The centre has also just been granted planning permission so building could start as early as next month. There will be a new Planet Pavilion entrance building, a glass-walled cafe (pictured), a Space …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Awwh hell yes...

    One of my favourite places as a kid, I was really upset to see it had closed its doors to visitors a few years ago, can't wait to take my kids there now....

  2. melt

    love it

    I loved jodrell bank. I used to badger my mum to take me there every summer. The highlights were:

    1. swarming over the decomissioned control panel

    2. playing with the gyroscopic precession holding-a-bike-wheel-on-a-chair thing

    3. shouting across the park with the big-ears parabolas

    4. the planetarium with its voting buttons

    5. boggling at the laser holograms

    6. playing with the broken steerable dish

    Many good memories - I can trace nerdishness back to that place, and to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. Top stuff :)

  3. Richard 120
    Thumb Up

    Science is fantastic

    Much better than religious twoddle.

  4. Stu

    I laffed

    I thought that photo was some El-Reg comedy knock up, a laff, until I read the blurb!

    Just who the hell is going to want to drink their cappucino with a bloody great ugly lump of iron girders imposing over them!?

    Sure it is of important astronomical distinction, but I wouldn't want to spend any time looking at the rusting monstrosity.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re I laffed

      Oddly enough, that "bloody great ugly lump of iron girders" is probably the main reason most people go there in the first place.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      No, I can see how you'd not be interested in the slightest, by the way shouldn't you be watching the latest series of Britain's X got chav factor on ice or something?

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Not accurate either. Last time I looked it wasn't particularly rusty.

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Cafe and Maze

    Funding for science - nope, funding for post-docs and researchers - nope, funding for new telescopes - nope.

    Cafe, maze and gift shop - sure, good to know that heritage is Britain's future.

  6. richard 69

    about time

    last time i went, it was like the dr who set from 1962. so bloody dated.

    1. TheProf

      @ richard 69 - about time

      Very 'about time' as Doctor Who didn't start until 1963. And isn't most equipment dated before it's even installed? Just look at those Apollo machines.

  7. Andrew Norton
    Thumb Up

    About time!

    I used to go there 2-3 times every summer when I was a teen. Was always nice to just take in the majesty of the 'scope.

    I wish I still lived in the UK, so I could take my kids there now.

  8. Ugotta B. Kiddingme


    I understand the cafe and visitor center BUT...

    Other than a clean getaway before the kiddies can find their way out, what is the purpose of a (presumably hedgerow) MAZE at the site of a radio telescope?

  9. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
    Thumb Down

    So they couldn't find anything better to spunk £3.1m on?

    As the title says.

  10. Daedalus

    Just one catch....

    Everybody would have to switch off all electronic equipment while enjoying the cafe...

  11. Aaron Em

    How much are they spending on the maze?

    Because with that kind of structure holding up the dish, all they need is a few dozen planks and they can make an amazing 3-D maze with only a minor* risk of broken arms, legs, spines, and necks.

    * Caution: Risk is not actually minor.

    1. Richard Scratcher

      Maybe I'm amazed

      You don't need to spend all that money to attract kidz

      Simply align the telescope to point vertically and then the dish becomes an awesomely, radiocal, wicked, sick, etc. skateboard or BMX park for the yoof 2 play in(it?)

  12. JimC

    Doeasn't that just sum up this damn country...

    hand over the dosh for a frigging visitor centre and maze... is there anything that can't be dumbed down?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Point missed by a very wide mark.

      Sigh.. for all the commenters who think it's a bad idea....

      Take your snobbish blinkers off once in a while and see the bigger picture.

      Of course most of the people who will visit need it dumbed down because they won't have clue one about the research or the vast majority of the work done at Jodrell but that's not the point of the visitor centre.

      It's not there to make everyone an astrophysicist, it's there to make the case for the future existence of Jodrell and inspire future generations of engineers, physicists, astrophysicists and geeks.

      If children aren't shown things like this in terms they can understand and enjoy or be inspired to learn more then we are truly doomed to a country full of tourism and media studies graduates and short sighted idiots who can't see how making science popular is anything but dumbing down.

      Of course science needs more money, what doesn't, but the only way to get it is to make it accessible and put it in the forefront of people's minds. If the public can't see (or think they can see) what goes on at places like Jodrell then they won't support it or be happy to fund it.

      Rant over.

  13. Mos Eisley Spaceport
    Thumb Up

    Yay! Jodrell Bank

    As an Aussie I thought this was just a fabrication of Dr Who.

    Until I went there in 2007.

    : )

  14. Scott Broukell

    Love to be there ...

    'avin a nice cuppa and a slice of Dundee cake when the first contact is made:

    "We come in piece from the planet Zargos, .... can we have 12,000 lightly buttered scones with jam, 5,000 pots of tea and 138 decaf coffees .. thanks awfully."

  15. PaulH

    Happy Memories

    I have happy memories of visiting there as a child.

    There was a small (maybe 12-foot) radio telescope that you could control, a machine that dispensed punched-tape (maybe I still have it somewhere). And, of course a planetarium.

    I hope it continues to do well.

    1. handle

      Punched tape

      Yay - when I read that article I wondered if anyone would mention the punched tape (or "ticker tape" as my parents called it). Thanks PaulH. I remember being fascinated by the stuff and taking some of it home.

  16. gm0

    Jodrell Bank awesome - visitor facilities lacking

    A marvellous thing - so what that it can now be done with a field array of dull aerials and a big computer that's so not the point. Jodrell Bank is proper Quatermass/War of the Worlds engineering and still working daily. I can see it moving around as I type.

    As a bonus my dad got better lectures at manchester uni from postdocs filling in because the prof was off at lower withington / goostrey building and playing with the dish.

    Ambivalent about the upgrade - the arboretum has always been nice but not exactly a hit with most kids. The visitor center and planetarium/film show have definitely seen better days. The cafe is straight out of minor UK attraction central casting.

    If they are going to spend on visitor attraction stuff - I hope they secure the basics and don't fall for anything flashy but quickly dating. More of the sturdy basic hands on physics stuff which has thinned out in recent times would be good. Pushing buttons on little computers to watch small videos is something kids get to do at home. Pick out some popular styles from Manchester museum of science and industry and the Science Museum.

    Wishing them well

  17. Dave 125

    Looking forward to the improvements

    There was all sorts of cool stuff there when I went as a kid. Went last year with the missus and was VERY disappointed - just a couple of video screens, a bunch of printed stuff for you to read and a shop with low nerdy content (JB branded pencils and the like). But on the upside there was a woman there doing surveys of attendee (singular intended - it would be an exaggeration to use the plural, even though there were technically two of us there) so let's hope the next installment of Jodrell Bank Visitors Centre becomes worthwhile again. Maze probably not a bad idea for catering for the non-nerdy family members so the others can nerd-out for the day.

    Hardly surprising the funding for JB is non-existent if most peoples' memories of it are "went there, it was crap".

  18. human humous

    Small fence

    I went to jodrell bank last year but couldn't really find any kind of entrance after walking through a bunch of fields for about half an hour. I eventually climbed a three foot high fence and managed to get in, but I didn't really realize it wasn't visitor friendly. I even tried a door, which was locked, and had a dozen scientists look at me through the window. It was pretty embarassing.

    It's quite nice though.

  19. Tom Cooke

    Punched tape

    That brings a tear to my eye... When I was a tiny tot we went there and that piece of punched tape was the most amazing thing I had ever got from any trip, anywhere.

    I now live just a few miles from Jodrell - haven't been for years, but smile every time I see the dishes while driving past. We'll certainly make a point of going when the new stuff is open.

    Still can't beat those good old 50's British sci-fi novels from the Hoyles, either.

  20. mccarthystuart

    Exhibit In Science Centre

    Does anybody remember an exhibition in the old science centre where there was a large lit-up globe, and behind it on the wall were banks of digital clocks showing various time zones around the world? what was that meant to show?

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