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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 07:06 GMT
Hard times see Dickens Centre go
Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens lived in Rochester before his death in 1870
A tourist attraction marking the life and works of Charles Dickens is to close on Sunday after 25 years.

The Charles Dickens Centre in Rochester - a Grade I listed building - is closing due to falling visitor numbers.

The building, Eastgate House, was used by Dickens in some of his novels, most notably as Westgate House Seminary for Young Ladies in The Pickwick Papers.

Medway Council said it was committed to keeping the Dickens connection going but may use the building as a library.

The council plans to relocate Rochester Library to part of the building and open a literary centre in another section.

Dropped off

Dickens is closely linked to the Kent town, having lived there before his death in 1870 - Dickens Festivals, in which locals dress as characters from his works, are still held in the town twice a year.

The centre recreates some of the author's greatest novels, using laser disc technology to bring to life characters and scenes from some of his much-loved novels.

Anna Friel in the BBC adaptation of Dickens' Our Mutual Friend
Adaptations of Dickens novels are still regularly shown on television
Councillor Wes Holland said visitor numbers had dropped since peaking in the 1990s.

He said: "It's looking a bit sad, it's past its sell-by date and we must try to do something else.

"It was cutting edge at the time and the number of visitors we got through there was outstanding when it first opened.

"That continued until about 1996 or 1997 but over the past few years it's gradually dropped off and the numbers aren't anywhere near what we expect.

"Tourism within the Medway towns is worth something around 170m a year so we must maintain the Dickens connection.

"With that in mind I hope to have plans next week of where we can build a new Dickens thing."

Closing a chapter on Dickens
03 Aug 04  |  Kent
Festivals could lose cash
19 Jan 04  |  Kent
Dickens jewellers to shut
10 Mar 03  |  England


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