Jurassica brings ‘bite-size’ chunk of project to Portland in August

Jurassica is set to bring a bite-size taster of the ambitious £80m project to Portland, welcoming residents and visitors to a ‘pop-up’ exhibition at the Osprey Leisure Centre in Castletown, from Friday August 28 to Monday August 31.  The exhibition is a free family event.

Bringing to life some of the sea monsters of the Jurassic Coast, the pop-up exhibitition will feature a ‘paleo lab’, fantastic fossils from the coast, site walks, talks and hands-on activities to amuse and educate adults and children alike.

Alison Smith, project coordinator, said: “The exhibition will also be the first chance for people to see the plans for the project, our galleries and how we propose to use the site which will include our detailed architecture and design models. We want to tell people what Jurassica is and give those a feel for what Jurassica will be like.”

 “Jurassica is clearly a powerful idea that has really caught people’s imagination, so much so that managing expectations has proved to be something of a challenge. We have had lots of enquiries from potential visitors who think we are already open and want to book tickets. We are a big project, around £80m, but we are at a very early stage.” Alison added: “We’re only just beginning the 18 month process of taking the project from feasibility to planning.”

A series of public meetings last year saw residents and local businesses turn out to hear the latest developments and put their questions to CEO Michael Hanlon. He commented: “It was important to us that we didn’t do just another town hall meeting, so we’re doing something different with the pop-up.”

The Jurassica project is a prehistoric visitor attraction which will comprise a series of contemporary galleries displaying fossil treasures from the Jurassic coast from the past 200 years. Backed by Patron Sir David Attenborough, it will include an aquarium with animatronic swimming ichthyosaurs, and recreate the Jurassic seashore under a large translucent roof.

Visitors will be able to step back in time to 150 million years ago, when dinosaurs trod the land, sea monsters patrolled the seas and flying pterosaurs flew through the skies.

“The idea is really very simple,” continued Michael, “we take a huge hole in the ground, put a lid on it, and fill it with wonderful things.”

Local businesses have provided vital funding to Jurassica, a registered charity, enabling the project to progress into the next stage of development.

Jurassica has the backing of the Royal Society and the Natural History Museum and was awarded a £300,000 grant by the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, as part of the Government’s Local Growth Deal in 2014.

For more information, please visit www.spacehive.com/popupjurassica and direct project enquiries to alison@jurassica.org

Hall and Woodhouse announce support for Jurassica

Independent family brewers Hall & Woodhouse, has announced its corporate sponsorship for prehistoric visitor attraction Jurassica, an ambitious project based in a disused quarry in Portland. 

Following the Heritage Lottery decision not to award a development grant to Jurassica, Hall & Woodhouse has agreed to provide financial support to help fund the project.

Anthony Woodhouse, managing director of Hall and Woodhouse, said: “Jurassica is visionary. It will result in significant investment in Portland, create jobs, and be a major tourist destination. We are delighted to be able to support a project which will benefit not only Portland, but the whole of Dorset.”

It is estimated that Jurassica will cost £80m and will open 2021. The project has received substantial funding from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the Strategic Economic Plan for jobs and growth and has already secured substantial financial backing from a number of Dorset businesses as well as partnerships with Bournemouth University and the Natural History Museum.

Michael Hanlon, the project’s chief executive and founder, is delighted with the support. He said: “Forget visions and scientific integrity, without cold, hard cash projects are no more than websites. We are hugely grateful for the ongoing support from Colonial Leisure Limited, owners of the Pennsylvania Castle estate on Portland.  And now Hall & Woodhouse, a brilliant Dorset brewing firm, has announced that setbacks be-damned, we can count on their financial support in the months ahead, and we thank them for sharing our vision.”

He added: “We will be open by 2021. That is my promise, to Dorset, the UK and to the people of Weymouth and Portland. No one said this would be easy. It isn’t. But it is possible. And what is possible will, with a will, become a certainty.”

Jurassica Project advisory member to present Dorset’s prehistoric history


Wolfgang Grulke, advisory board member to The Jurassica Project is set to present the last 250 million years of Dorset’s incredibly geological history at The Grange Hotel in Oborne on Wednesday May 13.

Plans are underway to create Jurassica, an ambitious project to craft a prehistoric visitor attraction, under a glass dome in a disused quarry in Portland. From 7pm, Wolfgang will explore why Jurassica is important to Dorset and will display some of the fossils that tell the prehistoric story of Dorset. There will also be a display of the design models for Jurassica and an opportunity to discuss the project.

Wolfgang said: “Dorset has been the epi-centre of a revolution in geological thinking that began more than 200 years ago and encompasses the whole of southern England.

“The Jurassica Project’s iconic architecture should be a magnet for international tourism the way the Eiffel Tower has been for France and the pyramids have been for Egypt. The opportunities are limited only by our imagination – and the drive to make it happen.”

Wolfgang is an author and businessman who lives locally and has a renowned fossil collection of which Sir David Attenborough commented: “I am, truly, lost for words.”

Wolfgang’s fossil collection is featured in his new book ‘Heteromorph: Nature at its most bizarre’.

Entry is by donation of £7 with all proceeds going to the Oborne Village Hall. Seats can be booked by emailing Karen Perryman kandjperryman@tiscali.co.uk

Jurassica will cost £80m to build and is due to open in 2021.  The project has received substantial funding from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the Strategic Economic Plan for jobs and growth and has already secured substantial financial backing from Dorset businesses.  Jurassica has partnerships with Bournemouth University and the Natural History Museum.

Jurassica team and local residents shocked by Heritage Lottery Fund decision

Michael Hanlon, Chief Executive, Jurassica, 20/5/15

“We are shocked and surprised to hear the decision made by The Heritage Lottery Fund in our bid for a world class attraction on the Jurassic Coast. My main concern is the residents and businesses of Weymouth and Portland who can see the enormous opportunity our scheme brings to them. It is critical the project proceeds for them.

“It is highly telling that today’s extensive media coverage of a project which did not secure a Round 1 pass, is greater than that of a project which did.

“We will address HLF’s concerns and are determined to carry on regardless towards a second application.”

Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager, Jurassic Coast Team

 “Jurassica has identified a key conservation World Heritage Site. Fossils for which the coast is famous for should be on display and secured for their scientific value. It is obvious that there is nowhere else along the coast that would be able to facilitate this.”

Emma Carter, B+B Weymouth (www.bb-weymouth.com)

“Jurassica is integral to the future development of Weymouth and Portland on many levels. On a practical business level, Jurassica will put Weymouth and Portland on the global map, driving tourism upwards and creating a much needed boost to this wonderful area. But the benefits are far wider than just economics – the positivity and support locally for the project has created a ‘feel good facture’ amongst the community that is unparalleled. We are truly disappointed about today’s announcement.”

Many thanks for asking me to comment and I am happy to do this as Owner of Popcorn Marketing and Friend of Jurassica or Past President of Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce 2014/15.

Julie Cleaver, Owner of Popcorn Marketing, and Past President of Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce 2014/15.

“Although we are all bitterly disappointed hearing the news that Jurassica is not included in this initial application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, I still believe that there is a huge about of support and goodwill being shown to the Jurassica project from local businesses, regional organisations and national companies. The Jurassica project has injected hope, inspiration and motivation into the local community and I am sure that with the determination of the Jurassica team and the support behind the project, that Jurassica will find a way to succeed in the future. I have enjoyed monitoring and supporting the project since the start and I will definitely be behind them every step of the way in the future.”

Wolfgang Grulke, Chairman Emeritus FutureWorld International Limited and Advisory Member of Jurassica

“I am delighted that Jurassica has the opportunity to submit an even better HLF application in the November timeframe. This is an ambitious project and in any event the majority of the funding will surely be found from private sources. The opportunity is to create a unique high-tech global attraction that will set the standard world-wide for museums and similar attractions. As that vision crystallises I am sure that several key philanthropists will join us in that quest. Roll on 2021!”

Catherine Brew, Partner, Red Plait Interpretation

“It is hugely disappointing that Jurassica was unsuccessful in its HLF bid. Not only is Jurassica able to tell internationally significant stories about our natural world, it will also have a hugely positive effect on the local area. The opportunities to provide jobs, educational activities, volunteering, and inspire young people are enormous. Despite this discouraging setback I remain fully committed to this extraordinary project and finding a way forward. We owe it Britain.”