Plans for a dinosaur-themed museum housed within a Dorset quarry have received a welcome boost from £37,300 of Heritage Lottery Funding.
Even though the initial target of funding has been set at a significant £80m, the grant has paved the way for six hectares of Broadcroft Quarry in Portland, Dorset, restored and opened up to the public as a trail.
The project is scheduled to take place over a two year period and will see steps taken towards the main Jurassica attraction - which is planned to sit within the 40m (132ft) deep quarry. The work will see more than 100 volunteers form a team alongside conservation experts at the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
This news has provided a welcome boost to the Jurassica project which recently had to deal with the untimely death of its founder, Michael Hanlon, back in February after he suffered a sudden heart attack. The project has David Attenborough as its patron and he said "Michael Hanlon had a thrilling vision for Jurassica - ways of using new techniques to bring to life the ancient sea monsters whose bones are still being discovered on this part of the English Coast. It will transform our vision of the prehistoric world. It must happen".
The project's trustees have continued to push ahead with their plans despite this tragic loss, with planning permission hoped for late 2017. The proposed subterranean park on the World Heritage Site would see a glass and steel roof, about a third the size of the Millennium Dome, installed over the quarry.
Within the dome, the museum would play host to an aquarium featuring robot swimming plesiosaurs, fossils and interactive displays. Organisers remain hopeful that the museum will open to the public in 2019 or 2020.