Earth Centre, Doncaster

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The Earth Centre, Doncaster was intended to "establish a world centre for sustainable development promoting the best environmental and sustainable practice"[1] which 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]


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 made an award of £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.


Phase 2[edit]

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 indoor 'Amazon Adventure' play area.

Education visits continued and more 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[edit]

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 is planning to develop an activity centre for school children and hopes to create 200 jobs.[5] It is thought that the centre will open in 2012.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Earth Centre phase one open to the public". Millennium Commission. 1 April 1999. 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, 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. 

External links[edit]

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