The Jurassic Coast Trust was established in 2002 after the Dorset and East Devon Coast was awarded natural World Heritage status, the only location in the UK to achieve this


 One of the principal aims of the Trust is to (and I quote from their web site) "To protect the Jurassic Coast and its setting", and subsequently claims that "We also work with fossil collectors, research organisations and museums to enable more of the unique and spectacular fossils rescued World Heritage Site to be conserved, researched and ultimately put on display."

After 17 years tens of millions of pounds has spent on capital projects. Other than providing rather modest support for the Steve Etches museum in Kimmeridge, none of them secure the fossils to make them accessible for research or give the opportunity to put them on display.

This is a matter of serious concern to the not only to the palaeontological community but to residents of Dorset generally. Fossils from the coast are important because of their historical significance. They are one of the main attractions for visitors to the coast and make a great contribution to the local economy. The continuous erosion of the cliffs and foreshore reveals new and important specimens every year, some of them new to science. Since the days of Mary Anning, they are rescued primarily by the efforts of dedicated and mostly local collectors.

Amazing collections of fossils have been built up over many years, but these are not available to science because they remain in private hands. The Fossil Code was created to record scientifically significant finds and has been very successful in developing good relationships with the collectors. When the Trust was set up there was the opportunity to create a museum for the coast, backed by the collectors who are passionate about keeping their prized specimens close to where they were found. Many millions of pounds have been spent on capital projects, and many millions more may be committed in the future under the justification of World Heritage status. None of the current commitments provide the capacity to conserve, store and display specimens specifically from West Dorset, in West Dorset, or have the ambition to acquire them so that they can become fully accessible for scientific study.

The undoubted success of the Steve Etches Museum shows that a museum for the coast is viable and would be a major attraction not only for palaeontologists but for the wider public. To create a similar museum for West Dorset may be a more complex project as it would need the full cooperation of the local collectors, but with the backing of the Trust and their supporters it is not only possible, but essential if the collections are not to be dispersed and lost to the area.

The management of the Trust is changing as the current CEO is stepping down. At the moment there is no news on his replacement. This may well be a unique opportunity to create impetus for a museum project, or at least to lobby the Trust and its supporters at local and national level to consider the issue of acquisition. If you feel strongly about this, please make your concerns known.

You can find details of trustees and patrons of the Trust here:

Richard Forrest

Fernwood Drive