Retro: The day the Earth Centre stood still

The Closed down Earth centre
The Closed down Earth centre

It was meant to become a huge international tourist attraction, promoting green living and the environment.

In the end, it was a costly white elephant, a flop with visitors and the Denaby-based monument to sustainability proved to be anything but.

The Closed down Earth centre

The Closed down Earth centre

It was the Earth Centre and 12 years ago this week, the writing was on the wall as then Doncaster mayor Martin Winter announce the attraction was to be sold off.

It was on September 18, 2004 that the vision of sustainability became totally unsustainable and the wheels were set in motion for closure.

Back in 1990, green pioneer Jonathan Smales decided that a 400-acre derelict colliery site on the edge of Conisbrough was ideal for his environmental vision, a world centre for sustainable development and best environmental practice.

Initial plans were for gradual development and the first phase opened in 1994 with a community farm.

In 1995, the Millennium Commission awarded £41.6 million to the Earth Centre which became one of its Landmark Millennium projects.

From 1996, work progressed with the design and construction of the many buildings and exhibitions. Phase 1 was only just completed in time for the gala opening in 1999 after several changes of layout, design details and delays.

Those issues were just the start of problems for the Earth Centre.

Visitors failed to come, with many citing there was nothing to do and regular changes of management also failed to bring in required figures.

The writing was on the wall and in 2004, the centre closed after going bankrupt.

Doncaster Council revealed in 2010 it was spending £200,000 a year to maintain the site which featured in 2008 BBC TV series Survivors.

In 2011 it was sold to adventure specialists Kingswood who have since turned it into a popular outdoor centre.