Visitor centre for Island

EXPERTS have been appointed to transform an old engine shed on Portland into a gleaming new visitor centre.

Museum design specialists Bremner & Orr will oversee the work as part of Portland Gas's £2 million investment into a new charity, Portland Gas Trust.

The company, which is also masterminding a project to create huge natural gas storage chambers under Portland, said it wants to establish the centre as a valuable new attraction focusing on geology, education and the environment.

Bremner & Orr is an expert in the design and production of high quality interactive displays and have already worked with English Heritage to provide an interactive guide for Portland Castle.

Other projects nationally have included the award-winning Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, interpretative exhibits for Gorilla Kingdom at London Zoo and major historical events at Welsh castles.

Portland Gas chief executive Andrew Hindle said: "We are delighted to have found such talent here in the South West.

"Having Bremner & Orr on board means the visitor centre will have the creative flair and educational appeal needed to create a fascinating day out for visitors to discover the unique geology and environment of the Jurassic coastline.

"Working with regional businesses is one of our key aims. We have made a firm pledge that the refurbishment of the old engine shed will be carried out wherever possible by local Dorset contractors."

Portland Gas has committed £2 million to the trust which will be run by a board of trustees made up of Portland Gas representatives and local people.

The trust will create the Old Engine Shed Visitor Centre with Portland Gas investing £1.5 million to develop it.

Another £500,000 will be available for community projects focusing on education, geology and the environment which could include bursaries for talented young people from Portland to study geology at university.

Portland Gas Storage Limited has recently been awarded planning permission by Dorset County Council to create 14 gas storage caverns one and a half miles underneath Portland.

The caverns will be capable of storing one billion cubic metres of gas in total and Portland is the only location in South England which has suitable geological conditions to provide natural gas storage caverns.

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