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New lease of life proposed for world-building quarry

 

A British charity has begun fundraising to turn an old quarry and mine site into an “underground cathedral”, the likes of which may have never been seen before.

Cornwall’s Eden Project has sought to raise £30 million ($AUD55.28 million) in order to create a subterranean attraction called Eden Portland.

So-called after the Isle of Portland, on which the Bowers Mine is located, the Eden Portland project would become a major tourist destination, showcasing fossils, stone carvings and technologies.

Bowers has been the source of construction materials for historic sites such as London’s St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and New York’s United Nations Headquarters.

The Portland stone has been famed for its quality for centuries, quarried since the 1700s before Albion Stone turned it into a mine in 2002.

Mine manager for 38 years Mark Godden told the BBC the tales of Bowers Quarry.

“In the 17th Century, they would literally tumble stone down on the foreshore, square it up on the foreshore as close to the sea as possible and it would go straight out and straight up the Thames,” he said.

As the exhibition has been proposed to house fossils, project director Sebastian Brook told the BBC this kind of attraction could change the world.

“We’re on the crest of a breaking wave of a mass extinction event, unlike anything that has been seen for 65 million years,” he said.

“Part of the point of the project is to use all means possible to engage people with the subject matter because, once it’s obvious that it’s a big deal, it will be too late to do anything about it.”

This proposal isn’t the first of its kind either. Earlier attempts have suggested a dinosaur museum or a mass extinction observatory.

However, if Eden Portland doesn’t get the funding it needs from the government and philanthropists, the site will be filled with rubble and left untouched once more.

“Ultimately it will be backfilled to the roof with rubble with waste stone,” Godden told the BBC.

“I feel very paternal about the mine, I wrote the original design for the mine, so it’s been quite a personal experience, really.

“It will be a tragic thing if someone can’t think of something more imaginative to do with this space than to fill it with rubble.”

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