You might be surprised how Irvine’s abandoned science centre looks 14 years after closing
The innovation bridge
To reach the centre visitors crossed the River Irvine on a structure called The Bridge of Scottish Invention.
Part of the bridge could retract to let tall ships pass through and was closest to open sea of any movable bridge across a river in Britain.
Blending into nature
The centre sits on the site of an explosives factory on the Ardeer Peninsular.
It was designed to look like a dune to help it blend in with its natural surroundings and even features a turf-covered roof.
The reception that welcomes no visitors
The Big Idea was intended to be a ‘living laboratory for people who wish to think, to dream, to discover, to innovate and to invent’.
Yet after spending £14 million to get it up and running in 2000, the Big Idea closed its doors to the public by 2003 after visitor numbers fell to 50,000 — which was 20,000 fewer than the number required to cover its running costs.
The lack of visitors at the Big Idea was blamed in part on the opening of a similar facility nearby in 2001.
Brian Donohoe, the former MP for the area, said that, ‘The death warrant came around the first day they gave a grant to the science centre in Glasgow. People aren’t going to come by the science centre in Glasgow to look at a similar facility in Irvine’.
Lectures not given
Some parts of the building are so well-preserved it appears as if staff and visitors have left just left a few hours before, rather than 13 years ago.
It’s hoped that the building could be reopened in some form as part of a £200 million plan to build homes and leisure facilities around Irvine’s harbour.