East Devon District Council invests more than £1.9m in exciting visitor attraction opening on Easter Saturday (March 26)

Seaton’s long-held dream for a flagship visitor attraction, reflecting its rightful place at the heart of the world-renowned Jurassic Coast,  becomes a reality later this month with the opening of a £4m visitor centre which is expected to attract more than 60,000 people a year.

The much-anticipated Seaton Jurassic centre, owned by East Devon District Council who put more than £1.9 million into the exciting project, opens its doors to the public on Easter Saturday. The centre will be operated by Devon Wildlife Trust.

The attraction promises to be a unique experience as it takes people on an interactive journey back 250 million years to when life on the Jurassic Coast looked very different.

Along the way, visitors are given an experience like no other – one where they’ll take flight on the centre’s very own time-ship, get to experience life in a local rockpool, meet a time-travelling ghost and witness the evolution of life on earth. It highlights Seaton’s unique location on the Jurassic Coast.

Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said that the centre would bring huge benefits for Seaton. He said:

Seaton Jurassic is a shining example of partnership working between the council, Devon Wildlife Trust, Seaton Visitor Centre Trust, the Jurassic Coast World heritage team and the many other funders who believed in this flagship centre for the town.

Without doubt, Seaton Jurassic will be a catalyst for the further regeneration in the town making Seaton a true ‘destination’ with the beach, Wetlands, Seaton Tramway, the Stop Line Way cycle route as well as other natural attractions all in close proximity to each other.

The town will reap the benefits of its location at the centre of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, bringing new jobs, more visitors and boosting the economy of Seaton and its traders as well as to the wider economy of East Devon as a whole.

There is something for everyone housed under one roof – a centre of discovery which also includes a cafe, a shop, wildlife gardens and a public amphitheatre. We are absolutely delighted to be a main funder of this project, which, I’m sure, will be a huge success.

As well as East Devon District Council investing in the project, other funding has come from Devon County Council, Seaton Town Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Coastal Communities Fund, Devon Wildlife Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Fine Family Foundation, Blue Marine Foundation  and Seaton Visitor Centre Trust.

A visitor centre for the town was first put forward 16 years ago – just a year before the Jurassic Coast was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001.

Bernard Dunford, Chairman of the Seaton Visitor Centre Trust, said that the Trust volunteers had worked tirelessly to drive the project forward. He said that the idea for a centre had come about in 2000 and despite some funding disappointments along the way, the group never lost sight of what they wanted to achieve.

He said:

We had a real vision and so many people have worked very hard along the way. It’s now such a big thrill that it’s about to open and we have such a professional organisation in Devon Wildlife Trust operating the centre.

I think that Seaton Jurassic will put Seaton on the map and bring real pride to the people of the town. I, for one, am very proud to be associated with such an extraordinary project which I think will be a fantastic experience for visitors. I also hope it will be a shot in the arm for the local economy and that our town traders will benefit.

According to a recent study, the Jurassic World Heritage brings in up to £111 million every year to the East Devon and Dorset economy supporting 2,000 jobs and Seaton now hopes to take a slice of the Heritage Site success.

Harry Barton, chief executive of Devon Wildlife Trust, which has been appointed to operate Seaton Jurassic and has played a key role in developing the plans, said:

I am so excited that Seaton Jurassic is now opening to the public. This is the culmination of years of sweat and toil, but it’s been worth every minute of it.  And the best part of all this is seeing Seaton Jurassic and realising that it’s not exactly what we thought it would be – it’s even better!  

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for environment, said:

I am very pleased that this long awaited centre will soon be open, thanks to the different agencies working together, and will provide a focal point for visitors to the Jurassic coastline.

A spokesman for Seaton Town Council added:

We are delighted that this long-anticipated centre has now come to fruition.  The council has supported the project over many years, believing it will bring significant benefits to the town through increased visitors, providing new opportunities for local businesses and boosting the local economy.

It will provide a first-class facility to promote, educate and celebrate the superb natural environment of the area and the Council is proud to have been part of such a wonderful project.

To find out more about Seaton Jurassic  and plan your visit, go to www.seatonjurassic.org