Steve Etches, a plumber and amateur fossil-hunter from Dorset, has been rewarded for collecting over 2,000 specimens on the Jurassic Coast. Words: Madeleine Barber
Sharks? Check. Flying reptiles? Check. Dinosaurs? Check. 66-year-old plumber Steve Etches has quite a mighty collection of fossils from his 30 years of hunting along Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset. It’s so impressive in fact, that he’s been given an MBE and a £5-million museum to house his finds.
Discovered around Kimmeridge Bay and named the Etches Collection after Steve himself, the assortment includes a two-metre jaw of a Pliosaur (a giant marine reptile that grows up to 18 metres long), ichthyosaurs and belemnites alongside smaller fossils such as 1mm eggs from ammonites. ‘No one else has accumulated so many specimens over such a short period of time. That’s what I’m proud of. That is my legacy, and I want it to inspire others,’ Steve told the Daily Mail Online. He made his first discovery when he was five – an echinoid flint cast. Since then he’s dug up 2,300 samples.
Due to open its doors on Friday 21 October 2016, the newly built £5-million Kimmeridge Museum will display Steve’s 2,300-strong fossil collection. CGI screens on the ceiling will create an underwater effect so that visitors can begin to imagine what life was like under the waves 150 million years ago. Plus, Steve will provide fossil-hunting workshops to teach fellow hobbyists how to unearth the Jurassic Coast’s remaining fossils. So what are you waiting for? Get down to Kimmeridge Museum to explore the coast for yourself.
Find out more about Steve’s collection and the museum at theetchescollection.org. Liked this? Read about our top 12 British wildlife-watching experiences or meet Nicola White, a beachcombing artist. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the magazine, too.