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Tourist venue a step closer to building "unique" £4m children's experience

PUBLISHED: 12:35 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:30 19 March 2019

An artist's impression of the planned interactive children's experience. Pic: Feilden+Mawson architects.

An artist's impression of the planned interactive children's experience. Pic: Feilden+Mawson architects.

A Norfolk attraction famous for its Christmas show has got the planning thumbs up to build a major 'interactive children's experience.'

The audience under the candelabras and Christmas decorations at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe audience under the candelabras and Christmas decorations at the Thursford Christmas Spectacular. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Thursford Collection, near Fakenham has planning permission for a 27,000 sqft new venue with an indoor interactive space based around steam as well as an outdoor recreation area, restaurant and a 96-space staff car park.

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The new project is aimed at making the Thursford venue – famous world-wide for its Christmas Spectacular show which last year attracted more than 112,000 people – a year-round destination for families. It aims to re-invent its current steam musuem, which houses the world’s largest collection of steam engines and organs including the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ with 1339 pipes, well as traditional fairground carousels. Despite this being the original reason the Collection was founded, it has seen visitor numbers decline.

George Cushing, Thursford’s projects and marketing manager, said: “We are really excited about the project. It has been three years in the making and if everything goes to plan it is due to open in Easter 2021.

“It will be a huge benefit to our summer offering and will be an attraction that Norfolk has never had before. It will be totally unique for the county and country.”

Clarke Willis, non-executive director of Thursford Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of the Thursford Collection, said: “The Christmas Spectacular is a always a sell-out but we need to attract more people to our steam museum at other times of the year. We want to make something more exciting and have a really good coffee house and restaurant, make it a destination for families.”

He said there would be an emphasis on learning through play and the new venture would involve schools too, educating on the steam heritage Thursford is famous for, having been founded by the late George Cushing who started out exhibiting his steam engines in old farm sheds, the start of the attraction.

For more information on Thursford see www.thursford.com

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