A fire that caused the cancellation of two major events at Magna was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful year, said its chief executive.
John Silker said the fire in a neighbouring building at the former Sterecycle plant at the weekend, which led to Magna being evacuated and two Christmas party nights for a total of 1,400 people being cancelled, was a dampener on what had been a positive 12 months for the corporate venue and visitor attraction.
Mr Silker said: “We really felt for all the people who had their Christmas parties cancelled at such short notice, but we had no choice because of the smoke in the building. We have been working hard to sort out refunds for everyone as quickly as we can.
“We took advice from South Yorkshire Fire Service who worked so professionally in difficult circumstances and sadly had to cancel the parties and close the centre on Sunday, but Magna is just about back to normal now.”
Six other party nights in December had gone ahead as planned, with more than 4,000 party-goers attending in total.
Magna is set within the former Templeborough steelworks and has spaces that can be hired for a range of events including business meetings, exhibitions, charity dinners, conferences and music events.
It can cater for anything from 5 to 5,000 people and had seen corporate bookings increase by nearly 50 per cent on last year.
Bookings secured within this financial year have put Magna well on target to achieve over a £1million turnover by the end of 2014-2015. Corporate bookings were worth about £730,000 in 2013-2014.
Events in 2014 have included conferences for blue chip companies such as Mercedes Benz, Honda, HSBC and the Royal Mail; an exhibition by an industrial tool distributor; a pool tournament; a jobs fair; Weston Park Hospital’s annual charity dinner, and a tattoo convention. Magna’s first Winter Wonderland weekend earlier this month also attracted more than 4,500 visitors.
In May Magna played host to the prestigious Yorkshire International Business Convention for the first time, with speakers including John Prescott, Michael Portillo and Robert Peston. Organisers were so impressed they have booked to bring the convention back to Magna in 2015.
Mr Silker added: “We are thrilled to have massively increased the value of corporate bookings at Magna and to have had such a busy 2014. Word is spreading about what a great venue this is and we look forward to attracting further growth in 2015.
“This year we have attracted substantially more large national events and next year we hope to increase this further to secure international business”.
As well as being a corporate venue, Magna is an award-winning UK family visitor attraction with more than 100 hands-on exhibits designed to explore the four elements of air, water, earth and fire.
Visitor numbers have remained steady at just u
nder 100,000 a year, and Magna has also welcomed 26,595 pupils on school trips; an increase of over 300 on 2013.