Thursday, 17 May 2012

Introducing the British Geological Survey’s Environmental Science Centre

The British Geological Survey has existed for more than 175 years and has been based in numerous locations around the UK.  Its head office moved out of London in the 1970s and relocated to Keyworth in Nottinghamshire, about six miles south-east of Nottingham.  It occupied a teachers training college, the Mary Ward College, that was due to be closed down.  Initially the site stayed pretty much as it was, but throughout the 1990s BGS built additional laboratory facilities and warehouses for the national collections.  It wasn't until 2005 that BGS began to remove the old college residences and teaching facilities; by 2009 the William Smith Building was completed and was opened by HRH The Princess Royal.
The William Smith Building at the BGS Headquarters in Keyworth

















We have now completely renovated the site and this week we will open the British Geological Survey, Environmental Science Centre. This is our flagshipsite with the new James Hutton Building being the centrepiece, paying homage to James Hutton.  It has a representation of the famous unconformity at Siccar Point at its entrance, which gave Hutton the proof that the present is the key to the past.  In addition we have renovated the reception area in the Kingsley Dunham Building which houses the De la Beche lecture theatre and Library and created state of the art conference suite and modern exhibition centre.


The National Geological Repository has been extended and will hold several hundred km of core from the UK mainland and continental shelf. This repository is a world-class facility open to all for teaching, research and optimising commercial development of the UK landmass and continental shelf.  


Most excitingly, along the spine of the campus we have created the BGS Geological Walk which celebrates the more than three billion year geological history of the United Kingdom with examples of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.  The walk is arranged as a geological timeline and has rocks representing England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.  There are some interesting features such as the homage to Stonehenge, the Hutton unconformity at Siccar Point and the 39 types of flagstones from all across the UK.
The BGS Geological Walk and James Hutton Building
This latest phase of construction cost 17.2 million pounds and this, along with the William Smith Building, brings the investment made by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK to 25 million pounds in the Keyworth site over the past ten years. I thank the NERC for this underpinning confidence in the British Geological Survey. 


We are extending the use of the Environmental Science Centre and have started the development of an innovation hub by creating BGS International  and also in welcoming PANalytical, a subsidiary of Spectris plc, onto the site.  We will be opening the site to other private sector companies and government agencies.  

The new BGS Environmental Science Centre will be opened by Sir John Beddington, the government’s chief scientist who will be introduced by the NERC's Chief Executive Duncan Wingham.

It is a new beginning for BGS and I would like to thank all of those involved in the construction, in particular, the BGS staff on site for their patience while the building phases have been completed.  The site will be open to visitors during BGS office hours and we invite you to browse the BGS shop, the modern exhibition centre, have a bite and a drink in our canteen and walk the BGS Geological Walk more than three billion years of geological history.


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