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Falling flint fears close Norwich science centre

PUBLISHED: 11:00 26 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:43 02 July 2010

The Inspire Discovery Centre, which hopes to reopen on Monday after repairs are completed.

The Inspire Discovery Centre, which hopes to reopen on Monday after repairs are completed.

Kim Briscoe

They could probably explain the science behind the frost making their bell tower unsafe, but unfortunately that does not mean the workers at Norwich's Inspire Discovery Centre can make it reopen any more quickly.

They could probably explain the science behind the frost making their bell tower unsafe, but unfortunately that does not mean the workers at Norwich's Inspire Discovery Centre can make it reopen any more quickly.

The popular hands-on children's science attraction had to close its doors just before Christmas when its heating gave up the ghost.

Then, returning after the Christmas break, they found a chunk of flint had fallen from the 13th-century tower.

The cold weather, frost and snow all contributed to make the former church unsafe to open, but with repairs taking place tomorrow, the centre is hoping to reopen again next Monday.

The building, the former St Miles (Michael) Coslany Church in Oak Street, is owned by the Norwich Historic Churches Trust, which is hoping to get a piece of bulging flint repaired by a specialist worker who will use ropes to climb down the outside of the tower.

Michael Wingate, the trust's surveyor, said: "The frosts and snow and ice may have displaced one of more of the flints in a small area and it could fall.

"There will be a rope-access specialist attending on Wednesday to remove the vulnerable flints, one of which did fall."

Mr Wingate said this was not a problem that had closed any of its 17 other churches during the bad weather.

He said: "Bulges in the flintwork are a fairly common defect but this particular bulge was in a vulnerable state."

The centre was threatened with closure in September 2008 because of a shortfall in funding. However, donations from businesses and individuals secured the cash to keep it going for at least two years.

Alexandra Minns, public relations officer at Inspire, said: "We are hoping to open again on February 1.

"We were doing all right after nearly closing but, being a charity, we have really suffered not being open," she said.

"During February half-term we will have a theme of weird science and we are hoping that during half-term we can get everybody back and that they will support us."

The week will include workshops; for example, one where slime is made into bouncy balls, and on the Friday evening there will be a forensics challenge.

From 6pm to 10pm, on Friday, February 19, children will be able to find out more about the science of forensics, and then put their knowledge to the test by trying to solve a crime scene.

Ü More information about the centre is available online at www.inspirediscoverycentre.com.

Ü Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk

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