1. A cluster of ammonites preserved in the Kimmeridge Clay.

The paleontological plumber

Collectors of all kinds should take note of a new museum that opened in October 2016 in the village of Kimmeridge in Dorset. The Etches Collection is the remarkable achievement of one man with a life-long passion. Over the course of 30 years, Steve Etches, a plumber from Kimmeridge who hunted for fossils in his spare time, has assembled a collection of 2500 specimens, some of them previously unknown to science. The collection was stored in Etches' garage, which he opened as a private museum. Now, with the benefit of £5million of funding provided by private donors and the UK's National Lottery Fund, his collection is housed in an acclaimed, purpose-built museum, named in his honour.


2. Plumber Steve Etches has collected 2500 fossil specimens along the Jurassic Coast.

The Jurassic Coast, England's only natural World Heritage Site, which stretches some 95 miles between Exmouth in East Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset, is famous for its rich deposits of fossils from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The clay formations contain a unique range of fossils from the late Jurassic Period from around 150 million years ago, and are named after the village of Kimmeridge on the Dorset coast. Steve Etches' collection represents one of the finest, and most extensive collections of specimens ever assembled from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation.

The museum's imaginative design and methods of presentation help to transport visitors back to a distant age. CGI projection technology, housed in the exhibition hall's ceiling, allows visitors to have the experience of being immersed in the Kimmeridgian seas where ancient creatures lived. The fossil specimens of this aquatic world are displayed in illuminated cabinets.


3. Well-lit displays in the new Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life.


Visitors can see many perfectly preserved finds, from a Caturid fish to Ammonite eggs, a Thrissops Fish, a Rhinobatus Ray and many others. The building also houses a flexible learning space and the Wolfson Discovery Room where meetings and lectures can be held. Visitors might also catch a glimpse of Steve Etches in his workshop, tending to his new finds.

Etches, whose knowledge of the field is recognised the world over, is self-taught. Awarded an MBE and many prizes for his contribution to paleontology, he has now secured a fine and lasting home for his unique collection, which is fast becoming a star attraction for fossil-lovers the world over.
• (For further details visit www.theetchescollection.org)
Diana Bentley


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