Star Trek super fan saves Blackpool exhibition

A popular Blackpool attraction that was threatened with closure can '˜live long and prosper' after being saved by a sci-fi super fan in a £150,000 deal.

Star Trek fan Martin Netter
Star Trek fan Martin Netter

The Star Trek Exhibition on the Promenade drew in 100,000 visitors last year but was plunged into uncertainty after its parent company Kuma Exhibitions went into liquidation in November. But now it is under new ownership and set to expand next month.

The attraction was saved by lifelong Star Trek fan Martin Netter, who owns the largest collection of Star Trek memorabilia in the world and provided many of the props currently on display at the exhibition.

He was approached by exhibition manager Rui Antao in November and became the official owner in February.

Mr Antao said: “At the end of November things were amiss, but when I went straight away to Martin Netter and asked him if he wanted to take over the exhibition he was more than happy.

“We then spoke with the council about the building and the lease. That is all sorted and there was no problem at all.”

Following the closure of Kuma Exhibitions, the Star Trek Exhibition closed its doors for several months while ownership changed hands at a cost of around £150,000, and minor changes were made to the attraction.

Mr Antao said: “We were determined to carry on because there’s no real exhibition for Star Trek fans in England, just conventions and comic-cons. We had a lot of response from fans saying, ‘Please don’t close’.”

Mr Netter, a 58-year-old German businessman, first began collecting sci-fi memorabilia in 1978. He owns the FILMWELT Museum in Germany, which contains the world’s largest privately owned science fiction and Star Trek collection, featuring around 50,000 pieces.

New props from his vast collection will be put on display at the Blackpool exhibition from April 27.

Mr Netter said: “I was already involved from the beginning. I helped the company with planning and last year we had the bad situation that they went out of business, so somebody had to do something.

“I’m happy to bring an exhibition to the public and I think Blackpool is a good place for it. You have all the tourists. It’s much better to do business here than in London where it is more difficult to cover running costs.”

He added that he hopes to introduce new interactive features that will appeal to long-term fans of the hit sci-fi series.

He said: “I have spent my life collecting things and I like to make people happy with what I have got. If I can’t share what I have then my collection is useless.

“Star Trek is a huge fandom, with fans from old to young, from poor to very rich. I would like to make it even more special for Blackpool so I will need to be here. This is now my second home.”