Fossil Collection

The internationally significant geology collections owned by the Trust offer a wealth of delights for those interested in the Lias of the immediate Street vicinity. A superb collection of large ichthyosaur and plesiosaur fossils were accumulated during the late 19th century, rivalling major collections at the Natural History Museum, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and the National Museum of Wales. Street is well and truly on the geological map in terms of the collection curated by Alfred Gillett.

Quarrying in Street

photo 1_4_2_7bAlfred Gillett and many of his Clark cousins, including Thomas Clark, Cyrus Clark and James Clark were able to devote considerable time and efforts in excavating large specimens from the Lower Lias in the Street area. Several local quarries (including some owned by members of the Clark family) were generating large quantities of local stone needed for building and lime burning. The extraction and excavation turned up numerous large specimens of a type to parallel those found at Lyme Regis on the Jurassic coastline.

The Trust holds a small collection of photographic and archival materials relating to quarrying in Street, but is keen to establish whether any more resources held locally would shed light on these activities, which are not well documented. If you know of any such archives or photographs or specimens, please contact the Trust who will be delighted to hear from you.

Where was the collection?

misc2_8 1887aAlfred Gillett established a Geological Museum at Crispin Hall in 1887 which ran as a permanent exhibition displaying the larger and smaller geological specimens until the museum’s closure just after the end of World War Two.

Since that date, most of the collection owned by the Crispin Hall Trust, has been in the care of the Clark family and C & J Clark Ltd. The collection has been conserved on a number of occasions in order to preserve the specimens for the future, and they are frequently visited by academics and researchers.

The collection was donated to the Alfred Gillett Trust in 2016 and plans are now being put together to put them back on public display.

What’s in the collection?

As well as 18 large ichthyosaur specimins and 1 plesiosaur specimen, the collection also includes over 180 smaller specimens, mainly smaller fossils but also a number of archaeological specimens

The collection is currently being assessed for conservation as well as being catalogued and digitised by specialists and volunteers. Until the collection is on public display, the extant finding aids are available to those wanting to find out more about the scope of the wider geological collection.

Where can I find further information?

Further information about the history, provenance and significance of the geological collection as a whole is available for those interested in learning more.

Can I visit the collection?

At the moment, the collection is not on public display. However, groups may come and view the collection in store by prior arrangement. Please refer to the Trust guidance on using the collections and then contact us.