Officials wanted to move Millennium Dome to Swindon and turn it into garden centre | The SunDecember 30, 2022
OFFICIALS wanted to move the Millennium Dome to Swindon and turn part of it into a garden centre, newly released archives reveal.
It was among ideas floated as ministers looked to offload the £800million structure.
The venue, in South East London, had attracted barely half the projected 12million visitors.
The Swindon suggestion also included turning part of it into an old people’s home and a museum.
The “big concept approach” from Lindsay Sharp, then director of the Science Museum, emerged in files released by the National Archives, from Tony Blair’s years at No10.
He wrote that the Dome could house a “new kind of international gardening exposition” and a permanent “interactive” garden.
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It could also exhibit “historic industrial arts and crafts” and offer a “living, residential community of the third age”.
In a letter to Mr Blair, Mr Sharp suggested the Dome could be used to house a new museum on an old military airfield at Wroughton, Wilts, on the outskirts of Swindon.
He wrote: “This proposal presents a unique range of features.”
He suggested it could house “a major new public facility devoted to interactivity and immersively exhibiting the latest in practical aspects and research into sustainability”.
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It would free the valuable Greenwich site for redevelopment, he added.
Mr Sharp did however admit he did not know whether the Swindon plan was actually feasible.
In later internal correspondence Lord Falconer, then a minister in charge of the Millennium Dome project, wrote saying he was inviting new proposals “in the context of the Dome staying in Greenwich”.
It is now the O2 — a top entertainment and sporting venue.
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