The Big Idea

The Big Idea, Irvine
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

The Big Idea, Irvine

Located on the shores of the Firth of Clyde at southern tip of the Ardeer Peninsula in North Ayrshire, The Big Idea was an Millennium-funded interactive centre devoted to invention and inventors. However, failing to attract the predicted number of visitors, it closed in 2003 with reported debts of £350,000.

Reached by the Bridge of Scottish Invention from the harbour at Irvine, this distinctive building was constructed on the site of Alfred Nobel's dynamite factory, which had been set up in the early 1870s. It included more than 80 hands-on exhibits, a ride through the history of explosions, a feature on the Nobel Prizes and a lecture theatre. Scottish inventors featured include John Napier (1550 - 1617), William Murdock (1754 - 1839), Sir Alexander Fleming (1881 - 1955) and John Logie Baird (1888 - 1946).

Opened in 2000 at a cost of £14 million, The Big Idea was run by an educational trust and supported by the Millennium Commission, Strathclyde European Partnership and private sector financial backing.

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