Earth Centre, Doncaster

The Earth Centre, Doncaster was intended to "establish a world centre for sustainable development promoting the best environmental and sustainable practice"[1] and opened in 1999 with funding from the Millennium Commission in Conisbrough, Metropolitan borough of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. It has since closed its doors after going bankrupt in 2004.[2]


The Centre of the Earth - - 206495
Access to the site (2006)

In 1990 Jonathan Smales decided that a derelict ecologically reclaimed 400-acre (1.6 km2) colliery site close to Conisbrough 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

Initial plans were for a gradual development of the site, incorporating community-led projects and with much construction work being undertaken by Mowlem, who used the site to train apprentices. The first stage of that project opened in 1994, including a sustainable aquaculture centre and a community farm.

In 1995 the Millennium Commission awarded £41.6 million to Earth Centre,[1] which became one of its Landmark Millennium projects. From 1996 work progressed on the remediation of the remaining 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 delays. The site is accessed by crossing the River Don on the new Kilners Bridge, an important local link to the former glassworks.


Phase 2

Building at the now defunct Earth Centre - - 806920
The site in 2008

Earth Centre re-opened in May 2001. More attractions were built as money from grants and other sources became available. A pirate ship was built, a crazy golf course and an indoor 'Amazon Adventure' play area.

Education visits continued and an increasing number of customers were initially attracted to the 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 was put in the hands of administrators.

Subsequent use

A Good Idea but it Failed ( 2388125)
Abandoned buildings (2010)

The site was featured as an important location in the remade version of the BBC television series Survivors, aired in December 2008.[3] The site was also used again in 2009 for the second series of Survivors.[4]


In February 2010, it was revealed that Doncaster Council was spending £200,000 a year to maintain the site. The centre was put up for sale in October 2010 and, on 23 March 2011, was sold for an undisclosed sum to an educational firm called Kingswood. This firm planned to develop an activity centre for school children and hoped to create 200 jobs.[5] The activity centre opened in 2012.[6] [7]

The car park area south of the River Don has subsequently been sold to a housing developer for the construction of 177 houses.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Earth Centre phase one open to the public". Millennium Commission. 1 April 1999. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  2. ^ "Earth Centre loses last lifeline". BBC News. 12 November 2004. Retrieved 26 November 2009.
  3. ^ Ian Wylie, Survivors: Nikki Amuka-Bird Archived 22 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine, 3 December 2008
  4. ^ Second TV spot for Earth Centre site?, [1], 10 February 2009
  5. ^ "Doncaster's failed Earth Centre site is sold off". BBC News. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Flagship Educational Activity Centre to Open in South Yorkshire". Radiolynxcontent. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  7. ^ "Dearne Valley - Kingswood". Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Major new housing scheme at Denaby". South Yorkshire Times. 22 January 2015. Retrieved 15 December 2016.

External links

Coordinates: 53°29′30″N 1°14′09″W / 53.49156°N 1.23580°W

A6195 road

The A6195 road runs through the Dearne Valley in South Yorkshire.

Conisbrough railway station

Conisbrough railway station is a railway station in Conisbrough, South Yorkshire, England. The station is 4.75 miles (8 km) south west of Doncaster towards Sheffield. Nowadays it has two platforms and is served only by stopping services.

Situated to the north east of the station between the River Don and Conisbrough tunnel is situated a branch lay over line. This is used for freight to allow express services to pass. It has previously been used for commuter trains also allowing faster trains to pass. The branch has access to both Doncaster & Sheffield trains.

John Letts (publisher)

John Campbell Bonner Letts (18 November 1929 – 25 March 2006) was an English publisher, who founded the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, was first chairman of National Heritage, and was instrumental in setting up the short-lived Earth Centre, Doncaster.Letts was educated at Oakley Hall preparatory school, of which his father, Major C. F. C. Letts, was headmaster, then at Haileybury and Jesus College, Cambridge, having won a scholarship for English, taking an M.A. in 1953.Having started out as a copywriter at S. H. Benson, from 1959, Letts worked for Penguin Books as publicity manager, until returning to advertising in the early 1960s for J. Walter Thompson. In 1964, he went to The Sunday Times as general manager, then in 1966 to Book Club Associates, retiring from new book publishing in 1971 after two years as marketing manager for Hutchinson. That year, Letts became co-chairman of the Folio Society, and founder chairman of National Heritage; he retired from the former in 1987, having doubled membership, and was made Life President of National Heritage in 1999. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1980.Letts was also the prime mover behind the Trollope Society which celebrates the work of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope. The Society published the first complete edition of Trollope's 47 novels.His wife, cookery writer Sarah Helen, was daughter of the architect and interior designer Brian O'Rorke and his wife Juliet Mabel Olga (1903-1988), elder daughter of solicitor Ernest Edward Wigan, M.A., of Oakley Lodge, Weybridge, Surrey, and his wife Mabel Helen, daughter of Robert Watson Willis of Hinxton House, East Sheen, Surrey. Letts and his wife had three sons and a daughter. His nephew is the journalist Quentin Letts.

List of British postage stamps

This is a list of postage stamps issued by the United Kingdom, normally referred to as Great Britain in philatelic usage, even though standard British stamps are valid alongside their regional counterparts throughout the British Isles. This list should be consistent with printed publications, and cite sources of any deviation (e.g., magazine issue listing newly found variations).

National Centre for Popular Music

The National Centre for Popular Music was a museum in Sheffield, England, for contemporary music and culture, a £15 million project largely funded with contributions from the National Lottery, which opened on 1 March 1999, and closed in June 2000.

Just prior to closure BBC Radio2 held a special gig to prize winners of around 75 people, to see Madness perform live with support from Paul Carrack. This was hosted by Billy Bragg and during the show Ian Dury was beamed in live and was interviewed by Suggs and Billy. Madness played It Must Be Love, My Old Man (Blockheads), One Step Beyond and Lovestruck before catching a train back to London from Sheffield. Suggs was late arriving at Sheffield as he had been at Alton Towers with his family.

Various bands played this venue raising money for many charities.

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