The Millennium Dome is a huge metal tent lying on a bend of the Thames near Greenwich. It was opened to the public on 1st January 2000, amidst much media grumbling.
It was commissioned by the Government as one of London’s millennium projects – along with the London Eye and Jubilee Line extension.
It is the largest single-roofed building in the world, measuring 3,280 feet in circumference – tall enough to accommodate Nelson’s Column standing upright, or the Eiffel Tower on its side.
The original plan was to turn the Dome into a glorious Great Exhibition, but that bit the dust within a year. The plans were ill-conceived and poorly thought out, and suffered from massive public apathy. It didn’t help that the exhibits were rather less than enthralling…
The venue was split into fourteen zones – Body, Work, Learning, Money, Play, Journey, Self Portrait, Living Island, Talk, Faith, Home Planet, Rest, Mind, and Shared Ground – containing educational exhibits and information displays. But over-optimistic visitor numbers (12 million) meant that it fell woefully short of cash, and the Government was frequently asked to bail it out.
Despite its lousy reputation, the Dome still managed to attract 6.5 million people in its first 12 months of operation – hardly a disaster. Indeed, this number was slightly higher than the Festival of Britain managed in 1951.
Many new plans were proposed for the Dome since its closure, and there was talk of turning it into a casino, a sports venue, or a music arena with shops and offices. The mobile communication company O2 eventually won out, and turned it into an entertainment complex called the O2 Arena.
Scale The O2's roof... to the viewing platform at the top – from 1st Jan 2013
will.i.am, at The O2 – from 5th Dec 2013
Black Sabbath (with Ozzy Osbourne) – from 10th Dec 2013
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