London 2012: Olympic torch to visit Greater Manchester and Jodrell Bank

View from inside the Lovell Telescope
Image caption The Lovell Telescope is one of a few UK landmarks to host a visit by the Olympic flame

The Olympic torch is to visit the giant Lovell Telescope in Cheshire as part of its UK journey to the Olympic stadium for London 2012.

A torchbearer will carry the flame to the top of the 76m (250ft) dish at Jodrell Bank on 31 May before it arrives in Greater Manchester.

Its first visit begins the same day, travelling from Lowton to Bolton.

The relay then returns on 23 and 24 June going from Rochdale to Manchester and Salford to Oldham.

Sir Bernard Lovell, the founding father of Jodrell Bank, said he was delighted the flame would be visiting the observatory and telescope.

He added: "It's a great honour for us and we feel very privileged to have been selected to take part in such a great national and international event."

The Lovell Telescope at the Cheshire observatory is one of a number of UK landmarks, like the Giant's Causeway and Stonehenge, selected for special visits by the torch relay.

As well as a world-leading astronomical research site, Jodrell Bank is also a popular visitor attraction, welcoming thousands of people every year.

Dr Teresa Anderson, Director of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, said: "This will be a fantastic opportunity for people in the area to be a part of the Olympic Torch Relay and see the flame in such an iconic setting.

"We feel proud and honoured to have been selected as one of the venues and look forward immensely to seeing the Olympic flame arrive here next year."

'Excitement grows'

In the first visit to Greater Manchester, torchbearers will leave Lowton on 31 May and carry the Olympic flame through Abram, Wigan, Scholes, Ince, Hindley, Westhoughton and Bolton.

It will proceed on to Horwich on 1 June before moving on to Lancashire.

The second of the two-day tours, on 23 June, will pass through Rochdale, Heywood, Bury, Whitefield, Prestwich, Higher Broughton and Cheetham Hill before the flame is carried into Manchester.

The following day, the relay will go through Salford, Trafford, Moss Side, Rusholme, Longsight, Levenshulme, Stockport, Ashton-under-Lyne and finally Oldham.

After this the torch then departs for West Yorkshire.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, executive member for culture and leisure at Manchester City Council, said: "We are proud to be playing a part in the Olympic torch relay as excitement grows ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

"Manchester is a city with sport in its veins, and community spirit, and I'm sure there are lots of inspirational Mancunians who deserve to bear the torch."

Eight thousand people will be involved in the 70-day Olympic torch relay which begins at Land's End, Cornwall on the morning of 19 May 2012.

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