TWO ambitious projects are joining forces to create a single world class visitor experience – and bring hundreds of thousands of people to Portland.
Jurassica, which aims to celebrate the geological heritage of the Jurassic Coast, will be joining with biodiversity project Memo to create a single visitor experience.
And the man behind the world-famous Eden Project – Sir Tim Smit – is coming on board to help steer the project into the next phase.
The news comes as Memo – now renamed with the working title of ‘The Journey’ – received a £50,000 funding boost from Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, Dorset LEP, Dorset County Council and private benefactors.
Director Sebastian Brooke said: “Together we will tell the biggest story of all: the evolving story of life. It’s a story four billion years in the making and, according to the world’s biologists, an important chapter is unfolding right now with biodiversity loss. We will bring the stories of the creatures embedded in the rocks to life and tell of species on the edge of extinction today. We are crafting a visitor experience which fuses stone carving with theatre, and fossil displays with futuristic projected media. Albion’s mine is pure Indiana Jones. There will be nothing like it anywhere.”
Jurassica chairman Tracey Brown said that now the decision has been made, it’s hoped things will move quickly. She added that that the future of the two projects ‘has always been together in some form’.
“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.”
Sir Tim said he hoped more details will be forthcoming before Christmas. Memo has secured the funds to develop a planning application.
He added: “The ambition for us all is to create something genuinely world class in the mines beneath Portland to present biodiversity, evolution and the art of seeing the world anew in the most theatrical and possibly the most appropriate setting on earth, the Jurassic Coast. It is our collective ambition too that this should be the catalyst to the creation of educational facilities that will in turn incubate opportunities for the island for years to come.”
The Jurassica Trust will dissolve, but Alison Smith will be joining the new team. She said: “In the mine we’re going to be able to realise a combined vision that is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s an incredible opportunity, the ancient stories of the Jurassic Coast dovetail so tightly with the stories we want to tell about biodiversity, survival and extinction, and with Portland’s industrial and landscape history.”