SNOW and heavy rain have wrecked a giant inflatable dome that was used as an indoor sports centre.

The PVC dome at St Joseph’s High School, in Chorley New Road, Horwich, was officially opened by former Bolton Wanderers’ manager Sam Allardyce in 2001, and cost £400,000, but collapsed in the bad weather at the weekend — despite efforts by staff to keep it up.

The PVC cover fell on to light fittings, tearing holes in the fabric which will prevent it being inflated again.

When it collapsed, the weight of the material also damaged the lights and some equipment underneath.

It was used as a sports centre by the school as well as various sports and community groups. Staff at the school say they are staying optimistic that they can repair the dome, but the cost could be huge.

The balloon-style dome had provided a cover for an 60 metre by 40 metre all-weather pitch, which was used for a range of sports, including football, tennis, badminton and athletics.

It had a fan, which had kept it inflated for the past 11 years, but it is thought the weight of the snow on Friday, the melted snow on Saturday and the heavy rain on Sunday proved too much for it. Headteacher Leo Conley said the dome had been weighed down by Friday’s snowfall and on Saturday, staff had pricked tiny holes in it to drain the melted snow.

He said it had not fully re-inflated again on Sunday and was unable to cope with the heavy rainfall.

Mr Conley added: “The fan has been running continually for 11 years and that meant it wasn’t strong enough to keep it up. The poor thing has had everything thrown at it, blizzards, snow and heavy rain. We are hoping to re-inflate it in the future and have it back in action as soon as possible but at the moment we just don’t know. We are staying optimistic and looking at costs. The pupils have been wonderful and already suggested a sponsored silence to raise money.”