Oxford Story to close

Liz Feeney

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Business Editor. Call me on 01865 425460

The Oxford Story tourist attraction is to close, bosses said today.

Almost 20 years after it opened, the venue in Oxford's Broad Street will shut at the end of the month after it was revealed it would cost £4m to refurbish.

It will be taken over by Jesus College for conference facilities and accomodation.

Visitor centre manager Liz Feeney said: "It is one of the top tourist destinations. It will leave a gap in the city's tourist attractions but it needs considerable investment which we are not prepared to put into it."

The attraction will close on October 28, having drawn two million people since February 1988, although visitor numbers have dwindled from about 165,000 in 1995 to 100,000 today.

Yesterday, visitors spoke of their disappointment.

Susan Kemp, 60, from Watford, who was visiting the city with her husband Peter, said: "They should keep these sort of things open to keep history alive.

"Why are they getting rid of such a good local attraction?"

Kay Yearbury, 28, originally from Cambridge in New Zealand, but now living in London, said: "This is the sort of thing that should be kept open.

"I have travelled to a lot of towns and cities and always go to places like this."

Oxford City Council tourism manager Suzanne Malcolm said: "It is sad for Oxford to be losing one of its best-loved attractions.

"It was the first real paid attraction in Oxford geared to the tourist market and was different to the existing university locations.

"But we do have a lot of other venues in the city and I don't think it will put people off coming here."

Six full-time staff and nine part-timers will lose their jobs.

The attraction, which features a ride focusing on the sights, sounds and characters in the university's 900-year history, is run by Continuum, which also operates the new attraction Oxford Castle - Unlocked.

Bosses say resources will now be channelled into the castle and prison tour, which opened 18 months ago.

Oxford City , which owns the Broad Street site, has planning permission for change of use, and contracts have been exchanged with Jesus College to take over the lease.

Discounted Oxford Story tickets are now being offered.

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