VISITORS to a Teesdale visitor centre will be able to discover the very foundations of geological mapping, at a fascinating new exhibition being held to launch a new National Lottery supported geo-heritage project.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership is displaying an original example of a William Smith Map as the centrepiece of an exhibition to be launched on Saturday 17 March at its Bowlees Visitor Centre in Upper Teesdale. The exhibition is the first event in the Earthworks project, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Thanks to National Lottery players, the project will receive £376,200 over three years.
William Smith was the ‘father of English geology’ and in 1815 produced the world’s first countrywide geological map, often known as the map that changed the world. Smith, a surveyor and engineer, travelled the length and breadth of Britain collecting data, going on to create ‘A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland’. The exhibition takes visitors through the evolution of geological mapping, from Smith’s ground-breaking work, to the way such maps look today.
Smith’s detailed and beautiful map uses familiar symbols to mark out features such as rivers and roads, as well as mines and other industrial sites. He then applied layers of different colours, by hand, to indicate the various rock types. Today, Smith’s techniques and map colours are still used by geologists all over the world.
The owner of this rare and important map is Natural England geologist Jonathan Larwood, who has worked closely with the North Pennines AONB Partnership on the development of this exhibition. Jonathan said: “Smith’s map is an important piece of national scientific heritage and it is great to see it travelling to the North Pennines. The exhibition charts Smith’s process for creating the map, but also tells the human story behind it: Smith’s remarkable rise from humble beginnings to renowned geologist. What he was able to do in his lifetime set the scene for other scientists to progress the work and make further strides in geological study.”
The National Lottery funding for Earthworks will enable the Partnership to expand its work in support of the North Pennines’ UNESCO Global Geopark designation, one of only four UNESCO designations in the North East and Cumbria (along with Durham Cathedral, Hadrian’s Wall and the Lake District World Heritage Sites).
The project will see the creation of new IT-based interpretation of geology and landscape, new walking trails, temporary visual artworks, work in schools and new community projects. Inspired by the map and exhibition there will be four felt-making workshops for the public, to be held at Bowlees Visitor Centre during April and May.
Chris Woodley-Stewart, North Pennines AONB Partnership Director, said: “Bringing this William Smith map to the North Pennines is an important first stage in our Earthworks project. Earthworks will help us to bring this area’s geological heritage to life, and we are looking forward to telling the North Pennines’ fascinating story of ancient tropical seas, vast deserts, moving continents, huge ice sheets, magma and minerals.
“We’re grateful to HLF, and to National Lottery players, for supporting this geo-heritage project, and helping us to develop education, the visitor economy and local people’s enjoyment of the area.”
Ivor Crowther, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund North East, said: “This project will allow people to learn more about the geology of the North Pennines, through an engaging and interactive programme of activity over the next three years. It is great to see that the Earthworks project is launching with such a prestigious piece of scientific history, in the form of the William Smith map. We are delighted to be supporting the North Pennines AONB Partnership to help people to connect with the geological heritage of this fascinating area.”
The exhibition is free and runs until Sunday 10 June 2018. Contact Bowlees Visitor Centre on 01833 622145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.