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The £120m plan to move Millennium Dome to Swindon: Wild scheme to create a museum and retirement home in Wiltshire is revealed in newly-released papers

  • The Millennium Dome could have moved to Swindon in a multi-million plan
  • The ambitious scheme, uncovered by documents, would cost up to £120 million 
  • The idea was suggested as New Labour sought to find a future for the dome 

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An ambitious scheme costing up to £120million was mooted to move the Millennium Dome to Swindon as part of a plan including a museum, gardening exhibition and retirement village.

The surprising idea – uncovered by the documents – was suggested as New Labour desperately sought a future for the unpopular and costly Dome, which had been intended to showcase ‘Cool Britannia’ but closed after a year.

Science Museum director Lindsay Sharp wrote to Tony Blair in March 2001 suggesting a ‘completely different and exciting possibility’ would be to move the huge structure 80 miles west from Greenwich, south-east London, to a 620-acre site overlooking the M4 in Wiltshire.

An ambitious scheme costing up to £120million was mooted to move the Millennium Dome to Swindon as part of a plan including a museum, gardening exhibition and retirement village

An ambitious scheme costing up to £120million was mooted to move the Millennium Dome to Swindon as part of a plan including a museum, gardening exhibition and retirement village

Science Museum director Lindsay Sharp wrote to Tony Blair in March 2001 suggesting a ‘completely different and exciting possibility’ would be to move the huge structure 80 miles west from Greenwich, south-east London , to a 620-acre site overlooking the M4 in Wiltshire

Science Museum director Lindsay Sharp wrote to Tony Blair in March 2001 suggesting a ‘completely different and exciting possibility’ would be to move the huge structure 80 miles west from Greenwich, south-east London , to a 620-acre site overlooking the M4 in Wiltshire

The site, owned by his museum and four miles from Swindon, included the former RAF Wroughton airfield.

The files show Dr Sharp envisaged the Science Museum could develop ‘a major new public facility devoted to interactivity and immersively exhibiting the latest in practical aspects and research into sustainability’ housed under the Dome and in 12 hangars of 40,000 sq ft each already there.

Wroughton Airfield in Swindon in 2015 - the site where the Millennium Dome could have been moved to

Wroughton Airfield in Swindon in 2015 – the site where the Millennium Dome could have been moved to

He suggested there could also be an exhibit on time, cosmology and space exploration at the site.

In addition, Dr Sharp proposed a ‘new kind of international gardening exposition’ and a ‘living residential community of the third age leading to cross-generational volunteerism on site’, hotel accommodation and a tourist village. 

He admitted there was no data available on the cost and feasibility of moving the Dome – a structure 1,200ft in diameter and 170ft high – but floated a figure of ‘no more than, say, £120 million’.

The surprising idea ¿ uncovered by the documents ¿ was suggested as New Labour desperately sought a future for the unpopular and costly Dome, which had been intended to showcase ¿Cool Britannia¿ but closed after a year

The surprising idea – uncovered by the documents – was suggested as New Labour desperately sought a future for the unpopular and costly Dome, which had been intended to showcase ‘Cool Britannia’ but closed after a year

The letter was faxed to Anji Hunter, the No 10 ‘gatekeeper’ who controlled access to Mr Blair. But Charles Falconer, the minister responsible for the Dome, said in a memo to Mr Blair: ‘We are encouraging them to reconsider their proposals in the context of the Dome staying in Greenwich.’

The £800 million Millennium Dome, which was opened amid much fanfare on December 31, 1999, was eventually redeveloped into the popular show venue O2 Arena.

Source: Daily Mail UK

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