Wrexham’s Science Discovery Centre has had its long-awaited official opening, marked with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Xplore!, which is now based at the heart of the town centre on Henblas Street, has been open to the public for some months and has already welcomed a number of visitors including Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething MS.
However, due to the pandemic, this was the first opportunity staff, stakeholders and dignitaries have had to safely gather together to celebrate the launch of the centre in its new location.
The centre, run as a charity owned by Wrexham Glyndwr University, first opened on the university’s campus in 2003 as Techniquest Glyndwr- and continued to grow until reaching the stage when new premises were needed.
In moving to Henblas Street, the centre has breathed life back into a space which had remained empty for many years, a building fondly remembered by local people as the old TJ Hughes department store.
The centre has been developed with a multi-million pound investment from Wrexham Glyndŵr University, the Inspiring Science Fund (Welcome Trust) and the Targeted Regeneration Investment Programme (TRIP) for Wales.
At the opening ceremony, the Deputy Mayor of Wrexham, Councillor Brian Cameron was on hand to cut the ribbon.
Giving a speech at the event Wrexham Glyndwr University Vice-Chancellor Professor Maria Hinfelaar said: “Xplore! is at the heart of Wrexham and part of the fabric of the community, building on many years of work under its previous name Techniquest Glyndŵr when it used to be based on the university campus and offered experiential learning in STEM to schools and families across the region. We still do that, and more.
“There is a huge footprint with scope for further expansion upstairs one day. We are ambitious. The team has created an awe-inspiring, interactive and hypermodern environment supported by science exhibits sourced from specialist providers all over the UK, as well as The Netherlands, the US and Russia.
“Xplore! has had to endure some stop/start scenarios over the past 18 months or so, like so many of us in different walks of life.
“But the team have shown real resilience and flexibility. They have offered online science discovery packages to partner schools during the difficult months of lockdown, helping to support the teachers, children and their parents with home study. But of course they couldn’t wait until they could offer the real, tangible experience on site”.
“At the university, we deliver programmes and have exciting research going on in science and technology – and we would like to welcome more students whose interest in these subjects might have been triggered when visiting Xplore! as a ten-year-old child.”
Xplore! Centre Manager, Scot Owen, said: “A rebrand and relocation is challenging for any organisation, and how my colleagues reacted throughout the pandemic has been nothing short of incredible”.
“Even when the centre closed during lockdowns, the team worked tirelessly behind the scenes to engage the local community with resource packs supporting home schooling as well as online youngsters and adults connected to STEM.
“My thanks in particular goes to Wrexham Glyndwr University, our parent company, without who, our goal to inspire the next generation of STEM superstars would not be possible.”
Lynda Powell, Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Executive Director of Operations, added: “It is wonderful to be able to celebrate Xplore! and everything it has to offer in its new location.
“I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard over a number of years to make this happen, and we look forward to a bright future as the centre continues to go from strength to strength.”
For more information about Xplore! and details of opening times, please visit https://www.xplorescience.co.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIldK0-MTW9AIVxIBQBh2Z6AXmEAAYASAAEgKAIPD_BwE