Butterfly World in St Albans to close

Butterfly World

Butterfly World - Credit: Archant

Butterfly World in St Albans is to close, according to an announcement by the attraction’s chairman, John Breheny.

Butterfly World, Chiswell Green. Atlas Moth (Attacus Caesar)

Butterfly World, Chiswell Green. Atlas Moth (Attacus Caesar) - Credit: Archant

In an email to “friends” of the project, based off Noke Lane in Chiswell Green, he said: “It is with immense regret that I am having to write to you, to announce the closure of the Butterfly World Project, effective from the end of the 2015 season.”

John, who is chairman and chief executive of the Breheny Group of Companies, said that since its inception in 2009, “Butterfly World has made a succession of trading loses, despite the very best and exceptional efforts of its dedicated team of staff and volunteers in improving the visitor experience and driving visitor numbers up, year on year.

“In spite of those efforts, Butterfly World remains a seasonal visitor attraction, and the cumulative level of trading losses could only be sustainable whilst there was still a realistic hope that the necessary funding could be found to build the [proposed] Biome and thereby complete the project.”

John said the Breheny Group has “twice rescued the project from insolvency and certain closure”.

Actor Jake Wood was among celebrities supporting Butterfly World in St Albans

Actor Jake Wood was among celebrities supporting Butterfly World in St Albans - Credit: Archant

He added: “As a privately owned group with finite resources, this was done in spite of trading through the worst recession in living memory, and experiencing some extremely difficult and challenging times ourselves, as a group with a history going back over 50 years.

“Without the prospect of a viable phase four Biome, I can no longer expect Breheny employees to fund the project indefinitely without being able to promise them even the merest hope that some of the considerable investment to date and the sacrifices they have made, will somehow produce some level of reward for them.”

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John said that consultation with permanent members of staff over the past few weeks “have been some of the worst I have had at work in nearly 30 years. Never have I had to face such a conflict between my head and my heart.

“The decision to stop now is the most difficult of decisions to make, but I take some small measure of comfort in knowing that we can be immensely proud of what we have achieved together, especially in respect of education and conservation awareness.”

• The Herts Advertiser was this afternoon unable to obtain more information on the announcement, or future plans for the site.