Roman attraction set for major revamp following change of ownership

One of Chester’s longest established tourist attractions is set up undergo a major revamp following the sale of the business to another attraction operator.

Dewa Roman Experience was established in the 1990s by local businessman Peter Dentith, who purchased the Pierpoint Lane site after being contacted by builders who insisted a complete Roman mosaic was unearthed during construction of the building in the 1970s. Whilst a series of archaeological investigations unearthed substantial Roman remains, the mosaic remained elusive. At its height it welcomed over 60,000 visitors a year, but closed due to Covid-19 in March last year.

The business has now been purchased by heritage social enterprise Big Heritage, operators of Western Approaches Museum in Liverpool and the team behind the recently re-opened Sick to Death medical museum in Bridge Street.

Big Heritage founder Dean Paton said “It is a very exciting acquisition for us, and provides us with the opportunity to create a Roman attraction worthy of Britain’s most Roman of cities. The site has revealed some of the most interesting visible archaeological remains anywhere in the North West, encompassing not only a series of impressive Roman structures, but a complete timeline of activity stretching over 2000 years.”

A first-phase of construction on the site is set to be completed by August, before closing over the Christmas period for further investment.

Georgia Hayes, Business Development Manager at Big Heritage said “We intend to make Deva the Chester equivalent to Jorvik – but with the added benefit of giving visitors the option of booking onto our Roman Tours and also visit Sick to Death. For the first time, it gives Chester a complete day package for tourists all under one ticket.”

This joined up approach is a welcome addition to Chester as its tourism industry looks to recover from the Covid-19 lockdown.

Chris Matheson, MP for Chester said “Big Heritage have an unrivalled track record of success in Chester and beyond. They bring history to life and I am pretty clear this is a hugely exciting opportunity to develop even further Chester’s tourism and heritage offering. I can’t wait for them to get cracking and I will be one of the first to visit the new attraction when it opens – I can’t wait.”

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