Indiana Jones and the pounds 33m hot metal ride Steelworks ride again with pounds 33m facelift

Theme-park Britain is destined to get a new spectacular if the Millennium Commission coughs up pounds 15m to turn a redundant steel works in Rotherham into a white-knuckle ride in a giant ladle through water-walls, heat and laser lights to the heart of an exploding furnace.

Rotherham council maintains that the Ride of Steel will be about "education and heritage" but when the project's advisers include the Disney-MGM Indiana Jones Stunt Theater and Universal Studio's Ghostbusters Show, the high- mindedness is hard to swallow.

Only last week, Sir Nicholas Goodison, chairman of the National Art Collection Fund, had the luminaries of the museums and galleries world nodding sagely when he said "interpretative, theme-park, play-time displays" detracted from the unique character of collections.

There is also a big question mark over whether another industrial heritage project, however hi-tech, can succeed in an area where visitor centres are almost as thick on the ground as once were the pits and factories they have replaced.

High-profile projects are struggling. Transperience, an historic bus collection-turned-theme park in Bradford, started with visitor forecasts of 350,000 a year and never topped 80,000. It won pounds 8m of European and other public money yet is now in the hands of administrators. The Royal Armouries at Leeds forecast 1.3 million visitors but is reckoned to be doing well drawing nearly 500,000.

Rotherham council says the pounds 33m "Magna" centre could provide 500 full- time jobs and attract 400,000 visitors a year. Its bid for pounds 15m from the Millennium Commission has cleared the first hurdle and a decision is expected in September. The European Commission is being targeted for pounds 7m with the balance coming from other public and private sources.

Barbara Woroncow, director of the Yorkshire and Humberside Museums Council, is sceptical. "If public money is involved to any degree we need to have some honest and realistic business plans," she said.

Magna is one of at least four attractions in the area forecasting 400,000 visitors a year, including the National Centre for Popular Music under construction in Sheffield with Arts Council millions.

"It is just not possible to achieve this sort of a total increase in visitor numbers," Ms Woroncow said. There are already 170 mainline museums and other attractions in the area and people have a relatively fixed amount of time and money to spare. A standard ticket to Magna, including the Ride of Steel, is expected to be pounds 5.95.

Rotherham believes it can attract visitors from beyond Yorkshire. The council leader, Keith Billington, said Magna would be a "world-class" tourist attraction. "It is not about turning the steel industry into a Disney theme park. Its themes are education and heritage. But we are also taking a hard-headed business approach."

Magna poses a dilemma for Sir Nicholas. With visitors travelling in a steel ladle through a tube to emerge above the floor of the works, it is exactly the sort of "play-time" project he abhors. Transperience, the Royal Armouries and the Natural History Museum's Earth Galleries are among his pet hates.

But the 42-acre site by the river Don, and the vast green building, the size of four football pitches, which once housed the world's biggest electric arc melting shop, belongs to British Steel - whose deputy chairman is Sir Nicholas Goodison.

The top draws

The top "themed" museums and industry attractions, with annual attendance figures:

Granada Studio Tours - 750,000 *

Jorvik Museum, York - 692,000**

National Museum of Photography, Bradford - 610,000

Cadbury World, Birmingham - 533,000

Museum of the Moving Image, London - 393,093

Gatwick Skyview - 390,000

Royal Armouries,

Leeds - 382,000

Eureka! (Museum for Children), Halifax - 365,000

Beamish Open Air Museum, Co Durham - 364,000

Museum of Science

and Industry,

Manchester - 333,000

Ironbridge Gorge Museum, Shropshire - 276,000

1996 figures except *1995 and **1994. Source: British Tourist Authority, except **.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Recruitment Genius: Appointment Maker / Telesales

£15000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading supplie...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales Executive - Dereham

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is proud to b...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project