Doncaster failed 'Earth Centre' saga

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Jan 11 21:30:10 GMT 2014

The abandoned Earth Centre site was sold by 
Doncaster Council for an undisclosed sum to 
Kingswood Educational services company in 2011. 
The Council acquired the site after the Earth 
Centre project was driven into administration and 
closed in 2004. They left the space like a ghost 
ship for 6 years until local people started 
investigating strange goings on and began 
demanding that the land be returned to the community.

The original Earth Centre project began in 1994 
as part of the flagship Millennium Project, 
millions of pounds in public funding was poured 
into landscaping and designing the then 
futuristic education centre on the former pit 
site. You can read all about it in this blog, how 
they shipped in the 'peace tree' all the way from 
Hiroshima and like the Earth Centre it didn't 
survive! They spent thousands flying in guru's 
and business types whilst promoting 
sustainability and green ethics. The local people 
poured their hopes and energies into a project 
that was mismanaged and eventually abandoned by 
the suits and left for the police, a war game 
company and the MOD to use as a playground.

Thing is the local people of Denaby knew very 
well how to live sustainably, they had endured 
the miners strikes and the closing of the pits 
which left thousands without work and many mouths 
hungry. It was the women of the village that took 
the initiative to reclaim the land that once was 
the pit and begin growing food for the local community.

The land was of great importance for beneath it 
lay hundreds of miles of tunnels and caves dug 
out by thousands of men and sometimes children 
who had lived and died in this area not to 
mention the valuable remaining coal deposits. 
This is why we think the Millennium Board was so 
keen to choose Denaby for its Earth Centre 
project and take the space back from the communities hands.

The local people were visited by representatives 
and duped into handing over their grassroots 
project to a bunch of business types promising 
all manner of wonderful things for the community. 
Jonathan Smales former head of Greenpeace was 
named as the brainchild of the earth centre 
project and work began transforming the site. It 
must be said that Jonathan Smales and his pals 
jumped ship as the earth centre was failing. The 
question is was it set up to fail in the first 
place? Because so much money over £114,000,000 of 
public funding was poured into the Earth Centre 
the local community was not allowed anymore 
funding for projects because the areas quota was used up by the earth centre.

After its closure many local people put forward 
suggestions for its use but none were entertained 
and it remained closed to the public. This huge 
site full of wildlife, trees, food and medicinal 
plants, climbing facilities, buildings, kitchens, 
living water filtration systems, geodomes, 
educational equipment, a milkfloat and a pirate 
ship was left to waste and the local people's 
original food project was no more! Access denied!

It was one day in 2009 that some of us decided we 
would visit the site and see about starting an 
eco village and new food project for the 
community. We found a way in and explored the 
wild and beautiful space, that after years of 
neglect had grown into a rich and diverse eco 
system. We munched on apples from the trees and 
could not believe that this place had been left 
to rot! Shortly into a our shambala experience an 
unmarked BMW pulled onto the site and two armed 
police officers got out of the vehicle, whilst 
one stayed in the car with what looked like a 
drone on his lap. They threatened to arrest us 
unless we left immediately but we stood our 
ground as we knew this to be our land! after much 
debate we decided to leave and begin work on the 

If you consider the land, the neighbouring 
quarries and vast network of tunnels ancient and 
new, the interest of the MOD and many dubious 
companies in the site, the eerie episodes of 
'Survivor' the apocalyptic drama filmed for the 
BBC on the derelict earth centre, the wargame 
company Cerebus (the three headed dog of war) 
Airsoft's use of the site, the history of the 
first corporate mine in the country and the 
hundreds of men, women and children that lost 
their lives there, the reluctance of the local 
council to share information with the local 
community or allow them access to the site they 
helped create, it can be said there remains many 
questions to be answered and many secrets will 
probably long remain beneath the Earth Centre.

We hope you enjoy our story, we did and we met 
met many wonderful people because if it. Thank 
you to everyone who contributed to the campaign, 
shared their stories, attended meetings, 
supported our efforts and took part in actions. 
Reclaim, reuse, resist and rise up!

To begin the story go to the beginning of our 
blog and the first post on October 26th 2009 - 
welcome to the story of the earth centre! If you 
have any questions regarding our story, research 
and actions please get in touch we'd love to hear your comments :)

Thank you
welovetheearthcentre at

Failed Earth Centre in Doncaster becomes children's educational activity centre
A map of the proposals for the Earth Centre

A failed environmental visitor attraction in 
South Yorkshire has been given a £10m revamp to 
turn it into a children's adventure centre.
The Earth Centre originally opened in 1999 on the 
site of a former colliery at Denaby near Doncaster.
Educational services company Kingswood bought the 
land in 2011, turning it into the Dearne Valley Centre.
The new complex has an 11,000 sq ft [1,000 sq m] 
sports hall and indoor adventure playground.
Deputy centre manager Chris Garsden said the 
original Earth Centre buildings had been cleaned 
and restored to their original condition.
"We've recommissioned the solar canopies and 
basically brought the centre back to life, adding 
the extras that young people need," said Mr Marsden.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 252 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list