About The Centre
Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre
Visit the Centre to see our amazing fossil collections and find out how to discover your own fossils on the beach. Admission to the centre is FREE however as a small charity, your kind donations keep the Centre open.
The Centre provides information on fossils, fossil hunting and the local coastal and marine wildlife. Facilities at the centre include interactive computers, hands on displays, marine tanks and a video microscope, all of which can help you to discover more about our stretch of the coastline. You will always find a helpful warden or volunteer who can help you identify your fossil finds. The Centre also has disabled access.
Our Jurassic Theatre shows a short film on 'The Jurassic Coast and Finding fossils at Charmouth' (adults £1.50, children 75p). We also have a shop stocked with books for all levels, including some of our own publications, toys and souvenirs.
Throughout the year we run guided fossil hunting walks and rockpooling walks along the local coastline. The Centre also has an extensive education programme. For information about the activities we have to offer to school groups please see our Primary Schools and Secondary Schools sections.
History of the Centre
The Centre was set up in 1985 to encourage safe and sustainable collecting of Jurassic fossils from the local beaches. Since that time we have slowly expanded and now have three wardens plus a large group of hard-working volunteers. Being a charitable trust we are reliant on the support of a large and active friends organisation who help to man the desk, build displays and undertake management roles. Our latest phase of improvement was supported by the Fine Foundation and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Annually the Centre welcomes around 90,000 visitors and over 5000 school children as part of our educational programme.
Meet the Wardens
Meirel Whaites – Senior Warden “What a fantastic location to work!! I graduated in 1996 from the University of Wales with a B.Sc (Hons) Rural Environment and returned to University in 2002 to gain a P.G.C.E (Science). I have had a passion for the natural environment since a very early age and have lived by the coast all my life. For 6 years I worked as a Marine Ranger and Passionate about Plankton Project Officer in Torbay, South Devon before moving to Charmouth in 2002 to become a warden at the centre. I am happiest when out on the beach fossil hunting or with my head stuck in a rockpool, or plankton trawling in the sea. I enjoy working with the public and schools very much as it gives me the opportunity to pass on my enthusiasm and love of the great outdoors to others!”
Phil Davidson – Geological Warden “I graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a degree in Palaeobiology and Evolution in 2007. I was a volunteer at the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL and the enquiries officer for the Palaeontology Department at The Natural History Museum in London before moving to Charmouth. I have been fascinated by fossils since I got my first dinosaur toy for my 5th birthday (Norman the Stegosaurus, who is still with me on my desk at the centre) and unlike most sensible kids, I never grew out of it! Working here at Charmouth, one of the most famous fossils sites in the world is my idea of a dream job.”Lyndsey Bird – Marine Warden "Having lived by the sea all my life I have a great passion for the coast and outdoor environment. I studied plant discovery and exploitation at university, specialising in coastal ecology, marine botany and conservation. I then went on to become the Coastal Heritage Ranger in Torbay gaining my NVQ in environmental conservation before heading to Scotland to work at a coastal property for the National Trust. Whilst travelling I spent more time on and in the water working for a whale watching company in Canada and recently qualified as a snorkel instructor. I love working by the sea and I really enjoy taking groups out on the beach to learn about past and present marine life.”
Phone: 01297 560772