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Welcome Hall
Felt Making
Amazon Adventure
Hope's Express
Fishing Lake
Nature Works
Sensory Trail
Adventure Playground
Water Works
Water Game
BBC Gardens
Allotment Gardens
Aerial Views



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Roche Abbey
Earth Centre
Rotherham Country Park
Hooton Pagnell Fete

Earth Centre Doncaster

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Earth Centre Doncaster

Closure of Earth Centre in Doncaster

Earth Centre is now closed. Earth Centre closed in October 2004. Earth Centre is now in administration and is no longer open to the public.

It is unknown at present as to what will happen the authentic Kyrgyzstan yurt, which has been considered by many to be the jewel in the crown of Earth Centre.

It is still possible to access the Trans Pennine Trail by using the bridge which crosses the River Don at Earth Centre.

Welcome Hall ] Galleries ] Yurt ] Felt Making ] Amazon Adventure ] Hope's Express ] Grounds ] Fishing Lake ] Nature Works ] Sensory Trail ] Adventure Playground ] Water Works ] Water Game ] BBC Gardens ] Allotment Gardens ] Resources ] Activities ] Aerial Views ]

Until the 1850's, the Don Valley was idyllic, little touched by industrialisation.

In 1819 Sir Walter Scott visited Conisbrough Castle and described for posterity that part of the valley which now cradles Earth Centre. "There are few more beautiful or striking scenes in England than are presented by the vicinity of this ancient Saxon fortress. The soft and gentle River Don sweeps through an amphitheatre in which cultivation is richly blended with vegetation."

Within 50 years, the Industrial Revolution destroyed this rural idyll. Denaby Main coal pit was opened in 1868 followed by Cadeby Colliery in 1893.

For the next 100 years, the mines provided coal for the country and a livelihood for the people of Conisbrough & Denaby Main. But the land and the people were to suffer as a consequence.

Both coal and livelihood were taken away in 1968 and 1986 when the pits closed, and what was left behind was a legacy of despair and high (33%) unemployment among the local population of Conisbrough, Denaby and Mexborough. There were also 2 huge spoil heaps where fields and an ancient fish farm had been.

In 1990 a change took place when Jonathan Smales decided that the derelict 400 acre site left behind by the pits was ideal for an Earth Centre. Jonathan was working on an idea for a museum for the millennium conceived by John Letts, Life President of the Museum of the Year Award. A suitable site had not been found elsewhere in the country, and so South Yorkshire was chosen.

"Following Earth Centre progress was a roller coaster ride of false starts, wild hopes and dashed plans." The Guardian

In 1995 the Millennium Commission made an award to Earth Centre, which became one of its Landmark Millennium projects. From 1996 work progressed on the remediation of the land and the design and construction of the many buildings and exhibitions. Phase 1 was only just completed in time for the gala opening, after several changes of layout, design details and false starts.

Phase 1

When Earth Centre opened, it consisted of the Planet Earth Galleries, (1, 2 and 3),Cafe and boardroom, Nature Works Building, Living Machine plus the offices housed in an old portacabin. After Phase 1 had been opened for 1 year, the Earth Centre was closed due to poor visitor numbers, and work began on Phase 2.

The idea was that if not enough people visited in its opening year, spend a lot more money on the development. Thus it was that the Welcome building, housing the shop, and the Conference Centre were built. To cater for residential school visits, a block was built which followed the lines of a Little Chef Travel Lodge. There was also an activity and Outdoor pursuits area.

Phase 2

Thus it was that Earth Centre re-opened in May 2001.

Suzy-Brain England was brought in to turn the venture around and make the visitor attraction viable. More attractions were built as money from grants and other sources became available. A pirate ship was built, a crazy golf course and indoor 'Amazon Adventure' play area.

Education visits continued and more customers were initially attracted to the improved facilities. However, by 2003 it was obvious that the target visitor numbers were not being met, and by 2004, as increasing numbers of staff were leaving, it was evident that the centre was unviable. In September 2004 the attraction closed to the public, and only pre-booked school parties were allowed. By the end of October, the Earth Centre, monument to Sustainability, was un-sustainable and was put in the hands of administrators.

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