The internationally significant geology collections held 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 collated and curated by Alfred Gillett. The collection is significant as little or no rock is exposed today in the immediate Street area, let alone being excavated by new specimens.
Quarrying in Street – can you help?
Alfred 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?
Alfred 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 has been in the care of the Clark family and C & J Clark Ltd, during which time it has been conserved on a number of occasions in order to preserve the specimens for the future. The collection is now in the custody of the Alfred Gillett Trust.
What’s in the collection?
As well as 19 large ichthyosaur and plesiosaur specimens (many mounted, mainly ichthyosaurs), the collection also includes nearly 200 smaller specimens, mainly smaller fossils but also a number of archaeological specimens
The collection would benefit from future conservation as well as detailed cataloguing and digitisation work by subject specialists, but at present, the extant finding aids are available to those wanting to find out more about the scope of the wider geological collection.
- Delair 1968 catalogue
- Delair 1978 exhibition leaflet
- Curtis/Dawson 1980 catalogue
- Taylor 1984 survey
- Taylor, Martill and Motani, 2009 overview
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.
How do I come and view the collection?
At the moment, the collection is not available on public display although this remains a long-term objective of the Alfred Gillett Trust. However, small groups may arrange to come and view the collection in store by prior arrangement. Please refer to the Trust guidance on using the collections and then contact the Head of Collections for further information.
In addition to completing the standard Reader Registration Form for all new users of the Trust’s wider collections, an additional Geology Collection Research Request form must be completed for those wanting to view the geology collection.
- Reader Registration Form
- Geology Collection Research Request form
- Geological collection overview (GEO)