Jurassica – Update from Tracey Brown

I am pleased to share with you some very good news from Jurassica. Our ambitious project to celebrate the sea monsters and geological heritage of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site will be joining with our neigbouring biodiversity project Memo to create a single world-class visitor experience on the Isle of Portland.

We have always known our futures lay together in some form. Our two projects have a great deal in common; Memo and Jurassica want to inspire wonder in the natural world and tell stories of the evolution of life on earth, of extinction, diversity and survival. In the past year, we have been developing our respective projects with gathering speed. The opportunity created by this momentum, together with the pressure of two sites on Portland, makes a strong case for us to join together now.

Now that the decision has been made by our respective Boards, we are moving quickly. In a new partnership with the Eden Project, Memo has secured funding to develop a planning application for a £15.8m visitor attraction housed within an impressive underground network of mine tunnels. We will be passing to this new team our mission and mandate to create a focal point for the Jurassic Coast. The new Memo partnership group will take forward our ambition to secure and display a world-class collection of fossils from the coast, and to bring this iconic period to life with spectacular immersive experiences; a vision that can be delivered in the dramatic spaces of Jordan’s mines.

Over the coming months the Jurassica Trust will dissolve. Alison Smith, who has been with Jurassica from the start, will join the team from Memo, bringing with her a passion for the stories of the coast, supported by the expert networks of our trustees and collaborators.

Since I became Chair in 2014 I have been privileged to share with so many of you this inspiring, innovative journey. Sometimes it felt more like a quest, we were so driven. It began, of course, with the vision of our founder Mike Hanlon for a grand celebration of the prehistoric at the heart of the Jurassic Coast, which was how he first persuaded me to chair the board. It was his ambition to find a proper focus to interpret the story of its rocks that persuaded Sir David Attenborough to become the project’s Patron, putting it on a national stage. This ambition also brought in Renzo Piano, one of the world’s best-known architects, whose design for a single-span roof over a quarry excited the interest of some of the major funders in London and abroad and brought engineering support from Arup. BURO 4 provided us with project management, at risk – with that came their facilities and the wisdom of their director, Iain Roberts. Richard Shaw and colleagues at Savills, Withers LLP, Roger Morris at Morris Lane, Anthony Woodhouse at Hall and Woodhouse, the Jurassic Coast Trust, the councils, Dorset Chamber and the team at Penn Castle are among many who helped us make each practical step to reach this point. David Lazenby, David Camp, and many others, from our tireless volunteers to world-leading researchers, helped us all to imagine what the Jurassica experience would be like. There have been so many supporters: each and every one of you has helped forge the path to this stage and, on behalf of Jurassica, I thank you.

Since Mike died so tragically in early 2016, our board and team have driven forward the project’s brief and secured national support for the mission to celebrate the Jurassic Coast. My fellow trustees have been magnificent in rising to meet that challenge. The joining of visions with Memo ensures success and I would like to thank Sir Tim Smit in particular for his help in bringing this about. I am entrusting Jurassica’s next stage to him, and to Memo’s excellent team, and I know it will be shaped by very good hands. The mines are a dramatic stage and the stories of extinction and survival have never been more important; we have here on the Jurassic Coast one of the most compelling stories of all, and the amazing people and creatures to tell it. The combination of our visions will be greater than the sum of their parts, making this into one of the UK’s most exciting projects to be undertaken since the turn of the millennium.

I look forward to seeing you all at the ticket stand.

Very best wishes
Tracey Brown OBE
Chair of Trustees

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