Technology centre in Mansfield set to close

Outside of the discovery centre.
Outside of the discovery centre.

A £3.5 million education centre in Mansfield that has been visited by hundreds of thousands of children over the years is set to close next month, it has been announced.

The axe is set to fall on the Making It! Discovery Centre on Weighbridge Road, along with the Brewhouse Café, with the decision being put down to ‘difficult trading conditions’.

The centre was hub for high-tech learning to find out how everyday items are made and give youngsters the chance to design and create their own models.

The closure will result in the loss of eight jobs, mainly part-time casual and some full-time roles.

However, the charity is set to continue its ‘educational outreach programme’ in which they visit schools.

CEO Sue Walters said: “Despite difficult trading conditions and changes over the years, we are proud to have been able to enrich the educational experiences of so many children throughout Nottinghamshire and the surrounding counties and hope to continue to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers through our educational outreach programme.

“It was not a decision that was taken lightly, it’s devastating for everybody.

“We are all now putting our efforts to making our outreach programme successful.”

Housed on the site of an old Mansfield Brewery building, it was refurbished and re-named the Making It! Discovery Centre in 2002. Prior to that, the attraction was more geared towards the brewery’s history.

More than £3.5m was pumped into the project to convert the three-storey building with the hope of attracting 50,000 young visitors a year. It was also given charity status.

Funded through grants and local business support when it first opened, Sue says the venture has been ‘100 per cent funded’ through the charity since then, and estimates that up to 200,000 people have come through the doors in that time.

But Sue Walters said that logistical issues for schools, such as transport, has meant numbers have dwindled over the years, and they have often preferred workers from the centre to visit the school.

The trustees of the charity are now hoping to find an alternative use for the building.

“It’s a fabulous Victorian building and we don’t want to see it go to ruin,” added Sue.

“The onus is on the trustees to protect the charity’s money and this is the best way going forward.”

Mansfield District Council’s portfolio for economic regeneration, Coun Kate Allsop, expressed her disappointment at the news, saying: “It’s sad that schools find it so hard to fund transport to come to centres, and the schools prefer for Making it! to go to them these days because taking children out of school is much more complicated.

“It’s very disappointing when people loose their jobs, especially when they have been such good employees. However the trust has a responsibility to manage its funds.

“I hope that as many people as possible visit the centre over the Easter holidays, it will be the last time that they will have of enjoying the centre.”