Mozaz RIP & the Campaign to Reclaim the Earth Centre

MarkiB mark at
Sat Feb 5 13:24:49 GMT 2011

Sheffield anarchist, activist, photographer, blogger, urban explorer,
landscape lover, tree hugger, flyposter, Indymedia contributor and general
trouble-maker Mark Wallis aka Mozaz passed away on Sunday 23rd January
following a short illness. 

Mozaz was the lifeblood of the community in Sheffield, involved heavily in
the squat social centre scene, helping the homeless in the city and
lobbying for their rights in the local council. He was also an ardent
campaigner on many other fronts, against the building of 2 different new
Tesco supermarkets in the city (one of the campaigns succeeded - in
Crookes), against public waste of money and flawed regeneration schemes, as
well as anti-war and international solidarity.

I met Mozzaz only once, naively assuming that I'd hook up with him again
some time in the near future. This one and only time I met Mozaz was on a
exploration around the site of the Earth Centre in Denaby nr Doncaster in
December 2009 (re: tlio's small contribution to what’s been happening there
a few paragraphs down). Along with ‘the pixies’ (aka ‘We Love the Earth
Centre’), we spent the whole day together – which was sufficient an
encounter for me to strike up a close enough connection with the man to
feel moved to attend his funeral in Sheffield yesturday. There was a huge
turn out on a bright sunny day, with the funeral cortege travelling up to
Grenoside Crematorium, the highest point in the immediate vicinity of
Sheffield on the edge of the city. It was appropriate that this should be
at the highest vantage point in Sheffield.
Hear here on these MP3 recordings at the tribute to Mozaz at Grenoside
chapel by a some of his closest friends (including the account of when he
was represented by the puppet Sooty at a trial after the Poll Tax Riots):

Among one of Mozaz’s most prominent pastimes was urban exploration, which
tied in with an encyclopedic knowledge of local social history mostly from
the onset of the industrial revolution for which Sheffield and it’s history
of steel is obviously best known (from whence Sheffield robustly thrived as
the major centre of UK steel-production).

On Mozzaz’s underclassrising website, he dedicated a section to what he
termed his “Urban and Bucolic Exploration”, which he described as being a
subject “dedicated to the subversion of space via the exploration of local
places in which capital is temporarily absent or in which capitalist
functionality is suffocated by the presence of the marvellous. This was the
intention for our own expeditions into these places and to publish
See a selection of photos here:

Mozaz was one in a million, poet, writer & revolutionary. The stuff he's
been through, organised, been a part of is truly something. His writing
which resonated immediately and directly (on occasion madcap, but always
just so insightful that I feel he spoke for a generation at times) is as
familiar as night following day.  On the one occassion I spent time with
him over a year ago now - a whole day infact - we discussed so much, and he
shared some much of his rich experiences with me, that I can truly say that
I am honoured to have known the man. Revolutionaries are always the best
writers ... a working class hero is something to be.


Campaign to Reclaim the Earth Centre:

The Earth Centre stands as a monument to the wastefulness of today's
priviledged class and the squandering of public money (lottery and
millennium grant money), as well as standing on a piece of land which is
steeped in the history of working class oppression/exploitation associated
with coal production. The Earth Centre was built on top of derelict land
left over from the former coal pit that was Denaby Main coal pit - one of
the largest pits in the country – which closed in the mid 1980s. Denaby was
the location of one of the UK's first recorded labour disputes - the
muck-bag strike. The Norman baronial Fitzwilliam family who owned the land
all around Denaby in the manor of Cadeby had a history of evicting miner's
families from tied-cottages even in the circumstances of the fatal accident
of a miner down the coal pit, offering no other social protection or

In the words of Mozaz: “The Earth Centre became a white elephant which
exhibited all the hallmarks of being a temple to elitist middle-class
pretensions of trendy environmentalism – and stands as a monument to a
collossal waste of public (lottery & millenium fund) money (so much so that
everyone who was involved in the project has run a mile from it ever
since). Nevertheless, it is home to an outstanding array of cutting-edge
reneweable energy technology, which criminally, have stood idle for 6
years” (such as near silent wind turbines, an advanced ‘living machine’
sanitation system, solar canopy).

See pics of the Earth Centre (taken by Mozaz .. some obviously within the
grounds of the perimeter fence), here:

The Earth Centre closed in about 2004 because it was not breaking-even.
This was mainly due to the over-reliance on the project being a
tourist-mecca, but also the mis-spending of money throughout the project's
existence, as vast sums were squandered on consultancy fees for the elite
professional class and extravagant, unaccountable spending. It has remained
closed to the public ever since. 

The first Public Meeting in mid-December 2009 at the Denaby and Cadeby
Miners Welfare Club was a great success, with a large attendance, which
TLIO gave a small donation (not v much  - £100) for the campaign ‘We Love
the Earth Centre’ mainly for print/leafleting expenses.  This combined with
the threat that direct action activists were planning to invade and occupy
the site at some future point (largely whipped up by Mozaz)  made the local
council very nervous, who had up until then been very secretive about their
future plans for the site. More interest in lobbying the council about the
future of the site of the former Earth Centre was generated at the Denaby
and Cadeby Miners Welfare Gala at the end of 2009. 

By the 2nd Public meeting in January 2010, a consortium of businesses
(some green) – the Rapid Technology Transfer Group  (RTTG) – had been
brought together and were sounding out on proposals to take on the site. A
representative of the group came to the meeting, showing that a behind the
scenes clamour to prepare a plan for the site had obviously been hurriedly
conducted, no doubt brokered in part by the local council. Despite some
searching questions from members of the public in the meeting, the group’s
initial ideas received some interest amongst some people in the meeting
(the meeting was said to have attracted significant number of new faces as
compared to the 1st one)

RTTG and Doncaster Metropolitan Council then arranged two open days in
March 2010, where the public were invited to view their plans for the site.

The RTTG consortium is made up of the following partners:
Costain, White Design, eOn, Scottish Southern, Modcell, Royal Haskoning,
Complete Energy Solutions, National Non-Food Crops Centre, SITEC, MTech,
Pilkington, Peglers, Senior Architectural Systems, Glazpart, LBK Packaging,
JCB, Kita, Holz Schiller, Saint Gobain, Beta Technology, Stramit, Hemsec,
Titon, BASF, Greenspec, Green Building Store, Ransomes,Kognitiv, Polyflor,
First Vision, Logix , Corus, Marmox, Balehaus, Cospica, MET-UK/Spice,
Strata Housing

The official tendering process for the sale of the site began in October
2010. The result of the tender is sue to by announced by Doncaster
Metropolitan Council imminently.

For the latest updates of the situation, regularly check:

Here two bits of writing about the Earth Centre.

First one is written by Mozaz on 25/11/09 after I’d visited and took a
walk and exploration of surrounding landmarks around the centre with him
and ‘the pixies’ Kiera and Jenn. 

The 2nd is written by a guy called John who attended the public meetings
organised by Kiera and Jenn.

Last weekend, I visited

Last weekend, I visited with two intrepid yurt-makers and The Land is ours
who are taking forward a campaign to raise public awareness about the
neglect and imminent fire-sale of the Earth Centre, a multimillion pound
project funded at huge cost by the public with clear aims to be used as an
educational facility for the community, which has been squandered and left
to rot in the outskirts of Doncaster – home of Energy Secretary Ed
Milliband’s parliamentary constituency in North Doncaster.

The centre has become a white elephant which exhibited all the hallmarks
of being a temple to elitist middle-class pretensions of trendy
environmentalism – and stands as a monument to a collosal waste of public
(lottery) money (so much so that everyone who was involved in the project
has run a mile from it ever since). Nevertheless, it is home to an
outsanding array of cutting-edge reneweable energy technology, which
criminally, now currently stands idle.

Last Saturday, along with other local activists, we walked round the site
in the rain I might add, exploring all around it.

This is loosely a landrights issue, in that it’s a campaign against the
potential public disposal of land. More of interest is the fact that it is
a potentially explosive issue, of interest no doubt to climate change
activists because Ed Milliband is a local MP, and the site is home to some
of the most advanced sustainable technology currently available (near
silent wind turbines, an advanced ‘living machine’ sanitation system, solar
canopy, extensive allotments & forest gardens, etc.), yet remains
derelict, while it is currently being used by a corporate ‘war-games’
company. Despite being a project which became a collosal failure, the site
remains a huge opportunity as a educational resource, not least for the
local community. The public waste of the Earth Centre in it’s misconceived
attempt at being purely a tourist centre which displayed the latest in
renewable power solutions without working with the local community is
analogous to the government’s half-hearted commitment to renewable energy,
as it puts it’s stock in the nuclear option.

The local campaign wish to pressurise the local council to not ditch the
agreement that the site be used for educational purposes, as well asr
unning a project which emphasises the decentralised solutions to power
generation, with local people having more of a stake in the running of the

If the Millenium Dome in London can be sold for a pound, then why can’t
the local community have a stake in the running of this centre, instead of
simply flogging it off to the highest bidder!

Cadeby Quarry, Doncaster, South Yorkshire Cadeby is a village and civil
parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster in South Yorkshire,
England. It is about five miles west of Doncaster, and four miles east of
Mexborough. The manor of Cadeby was held in medieval times by the Norman
baronial Fitzwilliam family, and later by their descendants, the Copley
baronets. Later, it was inherited by barrister Thomas Levett, a native of
High Melton, who sold to his brother, York barrister John Levett, who in
turn sold it to Edmund Hastings, Esq., of Plumtree, Nottinghamshire

It is right next door to the Earth Centre under here is 40 years of cole
and more limstone, yes Cadeby Quarry has been rapeing the earth for over 40
years and has been given in quite another 40 years to expand there is, a
site of special scientific interest which was notified in 1977 for its
geological interest. The site covers 97 hectares (240 acres) of the old
quarry.It is one of 35 sites of special scientific interest in South

The Conisbrough Viaduct – built with 15 million bricks in 1906-7 this
massive structure carried passenger trains across the Don Gorge until 1951.
With 21 arches, 14 to the north side of its iron girder section and seven
to the south, Conisbrough Viaduct formed part of a connection between the
Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and those of the Great Northern and Great
Eastern. At 1,584 feet in length, it is truly a Goliath structure built of
15million bricks – each one put in place by contractors Henry Lovat Ltd,
who used an aerial cradle – called a ‘blondin’ – to carry men and materials
across the river during its construction.

Could it be that the Quarry has been given the nod to expand into the land
around the earth center, there is remember 40 years of cole ready for an
opan cast, once done why not take the limestone as well? The middle class
talk about climate change here is one issue that is of real concern

As a site in Thurnscoe is top of the list of potential sites for a giant
incinerator, it has emerged.The Thurnscoe Business Park was one of 13 sites
in the South Yorkshire Times distribution area identified by regional waste
management bosses looking to build a huge incinerator to deal with waste
from Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

Here is an account of Mozaz’s involvement in the campaign to save the
Earth Centre.

I met Mozaz at a meeting of 'We Love The Earth Centre'  on 15th December
09, and he was dealing with the projector.  There were some wonderful
images he'd taken in the Earth Centre site.  However, I remember him
interupting the proceedings, having an extended rant about I'm not sure
what.  However, the meeting was generally good with plenty of energy  and

Over the next couple of months, there was a lot of email traffic around
the email list that was put together by We Love The Earth Centre, and the
emails from Mozaz were often very long, had a particular style... and
content.  However, I did my best to reply to all of them, to try to explain
that in order for WLTEC to be able to play a part in the possible
regeneration, that anarchist rants were less than helpful.  Several people
asked to be unsubscribed from the list because of the involvement of Mozaz,
and one person, who has since become a friend, told me about Mozaz being
banned from some Sheffield group meetings because of his behaviour.

I could tell that Mozaz was a very interesting character, with lots of
energy and creativity, and I wanted to get to know him better.  I found him
on facebook and found his amazing urban exploration photographs.  Through
facebook we became good friends... well, I'm not sure what he thought of
me, apart from he shared lots of information with me about his health,
housing and innermost thoughts.  Maybe he did this with everybody, I don't
know?  But I grew to really like him.

I think I met him briefly once more, on one of my many visits to
Sheffield, but our friendship was primarily over the 'net.  I was looking
forward to meeting up with him to do some exploration, something we have in
common.  However, this was never to be. 

I feel a mixture of very upset that such an interesting and unique
character should die so young, and angry that I've been denied the chance
to get to know him better.  A purely selfish anger...  

When I described Mozaz to a good friend, she said "he sounds like you,
John, or at least how you used to be".  And this underlies why I'm so upset
by his passing.  I think we had a lot in common... passion, anger,
creativity, inquisitivity, a healthy disrespect of authority, an unusual
'take' on life.   

I will miss him... his appalling spelling, his swearing, his photo
uploads, our IM chats.  I would love him to know how much I cared about


John in York.

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