Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Frank Ince - Charnwood Rocks

Charnwood Rocks: Our Geological Heritage

In collaboration with Charnwood Museum (Victoria Park, Loughborough), the Central Branch of the Russell Society organised an exhibition that was open to the public during April and May 2017 (see photo).

The exhibition coincided with the 60th anniversary of the first scientific discovery of a Precambrian fossil in Charnwood Forest: in April 1957 by a Leicester schoolboy (Roger Mason). The fossil was subsequently named Charnia masoni. This discovery was an important milestone in the development of Precambrian geology in the UK and had a major impact on the progress of Precambrian geology and palaeontology worldwide. The exhibition brought together a variety of exhibits and information panels that put the fossils that occur in the Charnwood area into the context of the local geology. The exhibition also highlighted the rich mineralogical diversity of this part of Leicestershire (the combined area covered by Charnwood Borough Council and the proposed Charnwood Forest Regional Park).

‘Charnwood Rocks: Our Geological Heritage’: an exhibition of fossils, rocks and minerals at Charnwood Museum in the Changing Room Gallery (the building now occupied by the museum was previously the town’s swimming baths).


Seven cases contained a variety of fossils (three cases), rocks (one case) and minerals (three cases):
• Plaster replicas of Late Precambrian fossils that showed the diversity of the organisms that were alive about 560 million years ago. These casts were on loan from the BGS, Keyworth.
• A variety of fossils and trace fossils from the Late Precambrian, Cambrian, Carboniferous, Triassic, Jurassic and Quaternary periods. These specimens were on loan from various collections: New Walk Museum, Leicester; Geology Department, Leicester University; Dennis Gamble, Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society; BGS, Keyworth.
• A selection of specimens that showcased the remarkable array of minerals and rocks occur in the Charnwood area. These specimens were on loan from the collections of Neil Hubbard, John Jones and Frank Ince.
Information Panels
Ten professionally-printed information panels were produced and they provided details of the following topics:
• An introductory panel describing the scope of the exhibition.
• A panel containing a geological map and a brief description of the diverse geology of the Charnwood area.
• Six panels containing more information about the variety of rocks, fossils and minerals that occur in the Charnwood area.
• A panel containing a summary of the quarrying and mining industries; their locations were shown on the geological map of the Charnwood area.
• A panel describing the history and activities of the Russell Society; together with acknowledgements to the people and organisations who had contributed to the exhibition.

The printing of these panels was made possible by a project grant from Russell Society funds.
The staff at Charnwood Museum indicated that the exhibition had been very popular, with about 3000 members of the public visiting the gallery. During the period of the exhibition a few ‘crafty days’ for children were organised by Margaret (Ince) in the museum’s Education Room. John Jones accompanied members of a local U3A group during their visit to the exhibition. Members of the East Midland Geological Society included the exhibition in their programme of summer field trips; during their afternoon visit, I gave them a talk that covered the background to the exhibition and various aspects of the geology, mineralogy, etc. An evening talk was incorporated into the spring programme of the Friends of Charnwood Museum; in this presentation I included a more general description of the geology, rocks, fossils and minerals of the Charnwood area.
Frank Ince,
Chairman, Russell Society Central Branch.


The exhibition was organised to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the first scientific discovery of a Precambrian fossil in Charnwood Forest; consequently, it was important that our displays included a replica of the original fossil and examples of the subsequently-recognised diversity of the Charnian biotia. Whilst two notable Charnian fossils were made availably by the Geology Department at Leicester University, the plaster casts of five different fossils on loan from the BGS Collections were an important component of the exhibition. One of the information panels was dedicated to the discovery and description of the Precambrian fossils that occur in the Charnwood area and put them into the context of the local geology.
The display that included Carboniferous fossils contained an excellent example of a Coal Measures fossil on loan from the BGS Collections.

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