Doncaster failed 'Earth Centre' saga
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
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
campaign to RECLAIM THE EARTH CENTRE!
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 :)
welovetheearthcentre at gmail.com
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.
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