The Jurassic Coast is getting its first dedicated fossil museum thanks to National Lottery Funding and one collector’s generosity. Over the past four decades, Steve Etches has collected
more than 2,200 fossils from along the area of the Jurassic coastline that he lives in. The collection is probably worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not more, but Etches wants to give it all away. “I don’t need the money at my age,” says Etches. “I don’t need cars or holidays on cruise ships and I want to keep all these artefacts in the area they were discovered.”
The area is the coastline near the tiny Purbeck village of Kimmeridge, which has a population of only around 100 people but is the unlikely location for a new £5 million museum. The tiny village nestled into the Purbeck coastline has needed a new village hall for years. The existing hall dates back to World War One, but in a time of austerity and government cuts funding that sort of project was always unlikely. That all changed in 2011, suddenly plans for a village hall that could house some fossils became a sustainable fossil museum that would double as a village hall. The Museum of Jurassic Marine Life and the Kimmeridge Village Hall Trust merged to become the Kimmeridge Trust.
With a new focus, the project attracted millions of pounds in funding. With the Heritage Lottery Fund alone putting up nearly £3 million.
RDC are working on the project to install a renewable heating system in the new Jurassic Museum. With the onus on sustainability and reducing running costs, the design of the museum eschews air conditioning but fossils need to be kept at a relative humidity (RH) of 40, so a heat pump system would provide the perfect level of heating and humidity. The fossil gallery has just one window which will be shuttered most of the time, with the exhibits being displayed in illuminated cabinets powered by a solar PV system on the roof. “This project will provide the Jurassic coast with a home for all the extraordinary fossils found there, and I am sure will become a major tourist attraction in the area” said Tom Lloyd of RDC.