A STATUE in tribute to Lyme Regis fossil hunter Mary Anning has received planning permission from Dorset Council.
The planning application was submitted by the charity Mary Anning Rocks after successfully raising £100,000 for the statue, which will be sited at the eastern end of Long Entry.
The campaign for the statue was led by Dorset schoolgirl Evie Swire who set about fundraising with her mother, Anya Pearson, and was given the backing of high-profile supporters such as author Tracey Chevalier, who wrote ‘Remarkable Creatures’ based on Mary Anning’s life, and broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough.
When Evie started campaigning in 2018 she was just 10 years old.
The proposed statue won the support of more than 140 people who wrote to Dorset Council to support the application. They included Dorchester artist Michal Taylor, a member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, who said a statue was long overdue.
Local professional fossil collector Brandon Lennon also wrote to support the proposal, along with New York resident Adam Spielberg, who said on behalf of himself and 10-year-old son Charlie: “We travelled all the way from the US to Dorset to go fossil hunting on the same beach she made her incredible discoveries on. Mary Anning’s contributions to science are real and meaningful.
“For someone without formal education to make those discoveries in a time when most doors were closed to women in science makes her work even more remarkable and worthy of formal commemoration.
“This statue serves to remember, give credit where its (over)due, and inspire.
We wholeheartedly hope that it is allowed to go forward, and hope that someday soon on our next visit to the Jurassic Coast that we will be able to pay our respects to Mary at this statue.”
The application papers said that, despite coming from a poor background, Anning’s finds changed the way scientists thought about the origins of our planet and how life evolved on it.
It read: “Throughout Mary Anning’s lifetime, her achievements have largely gone unacknowledged with her name having been eradicated from the historic archives due to her being an uneducated, working-class woman and an outsider to the polite and scientific community.”
Her discoveries were often attributed to the male geologists she collected for.
The life-size statue is currently being created in bronze by artist Denise Dutton and will be placed overlooking Black Ven where many of Mary’s finds came from. The site is on the junction of Long Entry and Gun Cliff Walk.
It is hoped it will be ready to unveil on May 21 2022, exactly 223 years after Mary Anning’s birth.
By Local Democracy Reporter Trevor Bevins