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3b The National Stone Centre
Director: Ian Thomas
Porter Lane, Wirksworth, Derbyshire DE4 4LS. Tel/fax: 01629 824833.
Aim: To tell the story of all aspects of stone in the UK - its
geological origins, the history of its working, its end uses, environmental
issues and aesthetic qualities.
Status and history: Initial concept 1980; launched 1982/3; became
a company limited by guarantee with (educational) charitable status
in 1984; work on site started 1988; opened to public 1990
Management: Council comprising representatives of industry (Tarmac,
RMC, Aggregate Industries, Stone Federation), local government, acedemia
(Universities of Derby, Nottingham (Adult Education), Keele (Teachers'
Training), and schools), ESTA, BGS and English Nature. Executive comprises
members from industry and BGS.
Public Services: 50 acre site with visitor services (c25% of
income). The indoor Story of Stone exhibition relates the origins
of rocks, and landscape, the history of the stone industry in the UK
and also covers environmental issues and stone in art. The Centre has
a well established educational service, c200 school groups visit p.a.,
25% of which are from London/South East. Paying and educational visitors.
In addition to the Discovery Centre, housing the exhibition,
about a quarter of the site now has established trails with interpretative
panels which focus upon geology and to a lesser extent landscape and
history. The Millennium Wall has full-sized sections of drystone
wall illustrating nineteen different walling styles and stones from
Caithness to South Wales. The trails are now being upgraded (by creating
full disabled access, new panels etc.) with the aid of LHI and Aggregates
Levy Grants etc.
Professional/design services: c75% of income; latter include
educational writing, interpretation, design, event organising, provision
of educational activities, stone advice, statistical collation and publication.
This includes the preparation of this Educational Use of Aggregates
Networking: Active members of Earth Science Teachers' Association
(ESTA), Joint Earth Science Education Initiative (JESEI), Earth Science
Education Forum (ESEF (EW)) and National Association Mining Historical
Organisations (NAMHO) plus many local groups relating to tourism, the
arts, economic regeneration, museums and Earth science.
UKRIGS operate from the NSC. NSC also run the East Midlands RAWP and
RAWP Secretaries Group. The NSC Director is Chair of (JESEI) and Chair
of the Standing Joint Committee on Natural Stones (SJCNS) and president
of East Midlands Geological Society.
Recent clients include Tarmac, British Waterways, Midland Quarry
Products, Aggregate Industries, Lafarge, Royal Society of Chemistry,
ARUP, British Geological Survey, Gallagher Group, Welsh Assembly Government,
Flintshire and Gwynedd County Councils, QPA, ODPM, Countryside Council
for Wales, English Nature.
Current plans for a c£5million redevelopment on site under the
title epicentre-UK in partnership with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Potential
funders mainly government/lottery funds.
The Site: An SSSI covers half of the 20 Ha site. The limestones
here contain a rich assemblage of fossils. The site comprises six quarries
and is regarded as being of national importance in respect of very distinctive
fossil reef environments deposited in Dinantian times. In addition there
are interesting historical and biological features on site.
The site was acquired from Tarmac by the County Council on behalf of
the NSC in the 1980's and sensitively transformed using a 100% Derelict
Land Reclamation Grant in the late 1980's.