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The way that information gets indexed and cross-referenced across the world-wide-web never ceases to amaze. It is surprising where information can crop up and this year mention of the museum has popped up in three very different and surprising locations:-

  • A European Commission report titled Prospective Analysis of the Aquaculture Sector in the EU - where a photograph of a sturgeon on our website has been used as an illustration;
  • A Wikipedia article on the River Darent - where the museum is credited for a reference about the formation of the river; and
  • The Ten Spider Enterprises metasite in New Jersey, USA - which lists the museum as a recommended reference source for anyone interested in rocks or fossils.

    The museum is certainly becoming well known globally with almost 12,000 visitors having now accessed our website and entries for us appearing in search engines in such widespread places as the Czech Republic and India.

    During the year, the America Online Corporation ceased the Compuserve Executive News Service. This was a blow as we had been using this service to collect news articles on the geological sciences since 1995. However, I am pleased to say that by forging direct links with organisations such as Reuters and Associated Press our weekly news updates have been able to continue without any break in service. An unexpected benefit to the museum is that we will save the Compuserve connection charges of some £130-£150 a year.

    A major project completed this year was to review and update our insurance cover and I am delighted to report that we have been able to secure comprehensive ‘all-risks’ insurance from CGI Services Limited for the entire £20,000 value of the collection.

    Our drop in income due to the global recession has started to level off with donations down only 2.5% over 2008/2009 compared with the 20.7% reduction we experienced last year over 2007/2008. Again, we were able to offset this by a 13.2% reduction in costs, largely due to cessation of the charges we used to receive from Compuserve and in cutting back on our programme of field trips and acquisitions.

    Fixed assets continue to grow with a year-on-year increase of 4.6%.

    Administration costs increased by 16.3% but this was directly attributable to the increase in insurance premiums payable following our recent revaluation of the collection. In overall terms, running costs have successfully been reduced from 26% to 20% of total expenditure. For our benefactors, I am pleased to report that this means that out of every £1 donated, 80p goes directly towards maintaining and enlarging the collection and in meeting our stated aims and objectives.

    Brian R J Glover

    Department of Palaeontology

    Acquisitions by Purchase

    Five plant fossils from the Carboniferous of Pas-de-Calais Region, France, were purchased from Mr Matthew McGrane of Bromley Kent.

    Acquisitions by Donation

    The kind donation of the Phillip Woodard Collection, from Dallas, Texas, brought some 210 fossils, mainly from the Mesozoic, to the museum. As an ex-patriot Englishman, formerly of Beccles in Suffolk, these fossils were collected by Mr Woodard from across the British Isles while he was studying here for his geology degree.

    Department of Geology

    Acquisitions by Purchase

    Major purchases this year included specimens of locally important rocks, i.e. Gault Clay and Carstone, from Northern Geological Supplies of Bolton and display quality specimens of a Brazilian amethyst geode and a Maltese stalactite from the Mitchell Studios Gallery in Addlestone, Surrey.

    Acquisitions by Donation

    The kind donation of the Phillip Woodard Collection, from Dallas, Texas, brought some 56 rock and mineral specimens to the museum. As an ex-patriot Englishman, formerly of Beccles in Suffolk, these fossils were collected by Mr Woodard from across the British Isles while he was studying here for his geology degree.

    Department of Zoology

    During the year our Zoology Department has been undertaking extensive testing and research to acquire the practical skills in water management techniques that will be an essential precursor to development of our ‘living fossils’ collection.

    It is hoped that this will in the future be able to include live freshwater organisms, such as lampreys and sturgeons and marine organisms such as dwarf sharks and horseshoe crabs (a living descendent of the trilobites).

    Botanical Department

    Our Wollemi Pine, the centrepiece of our plant displays that form part of the ‘living fossils’ collection, is doing very well with much new growth over the past year. These prehistoric trees are extremely slow-growing and it will take many years to reach full maturity.

    Art & Display Department

    Acquisitions by Purchase

    With 2009 being the bi-centenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, a fine scale model of HMS Beagle, the 10-gun Cherokee class brig-sloop that took Darwin on his expeditions to South America and the Galapagos Islands, was acquired from Nauticalia in Bluewater, Dartford.

    The Museum Web-Site -

    The website contains descriptions of the Museum, its aims and the scope of its collection, but more importantly, contains sections on where to go to see geological and palaeontological attractions and sites, where to go to collect rocks and fossils and also lists world news of earthquakes, volcanic activity, mining developments and major fossil finds.

    There are special pages devoted to background and reference information on geology and pages including write-ups of Museum field trips and expeditions together with reports on the research that we undertake.

    The website also contains numerous useful links to museums, institutions and commercial organisations around the world that display, exhibit, promote or exploit the science of geology.

    During the year, the number of visitors to our site rocketed from just over 3,000 to almost 12,000 (11,947).

    Library & Resource Centre

    Having topped 10,000 items in our collection, our library holdings continue to be the fastest growth area of the Museum with materials currently available including:-

    Information Leaflets267
    Scientific Papers28
    Magazines & Publications398
    U.K. Newspaper Extracts149
    Video & Audio Tapes15
    College Prospectuses76
    Newsfiles (held electronically)9367

    Electronic Newsfiles
    Extra-terrestrial Geology205
    The Entertainment Industry66
    Articles Abstract54

    We are grateful to the various news agencies around the world that supply us with up to the minute information on fossil finds, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, particularly Reuters and Associated Press.

    Looking to the Future

    The Trustees top priority remains the acquisition of new premises and, as a first step towards this goal, we will continue to examine cost effective options to initially establish a small permanent facility that will be open to the general public. This will allow us to actively seek partnership funding from grant-in-aid sources and from local concerns in the future and enable us to plan for a permanent home for the collection.

    Our appeal will continue for funds to acquire a replica dinosaur fossil from Portugal and we will be looking at acquiring those remaining volumes of the Treatise of Invertebrate Palaeontology that are currently out-of-print.

    A major piece of work that will be necessary during the coming year will be the full identification and cataloguing of the 300 specimens received via the Phillip Woodard collection.

    2010/2011 will see our Department of Zoology consolidate its research on freshwater quality management within an active biosphere and will be looking to take this forward to conducting similar tests within a marine environment.

    Drawing on the discoveries of Neanderthal heidelbergensis fossils at Swanscombe, Kent and Boxgrove, Surrey, our Art and Display Department will also be looking to form a display on the evolution of early humans. The dislay will also include references to the world-famous hoax Piltdown Man from Sussex.

    Notes to the Accounts

    1. Museum Expenditure

    As a non profit making organisation, the Museum aims to spend the minimum possible on administration and overheads so that funds can be channelled into curation of the collection and the acquisition of display equipment and new specimens.

    Breakdown of expenditure

    2. Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

    Fixed assets at 31st March 2010 are stated at the lower of (a) cost, less provision for depreciation - if originally purchased by the Museum, or (b) net realisable value, less provision for depreciation - if the asset was originally donated free of charge.

    Depreciation is provided on a straight line basis, and is calculated on historical amounts, after providing for any permanent diminution in value. The period of depreciation being the estimated life of the asset subject to the maxima shown below and commencing when the capital expenditure was incurred or on acquisition of the asset by donation.
    Type of assetMaximum period
    Computer equipment10 years
    Laboratory and display equipment20-40 years

    Estimated lives and residual values of individual items are reviewed periodically and amended when circumstances change. Asset values shown represent the estimated replacement cost of the collection with specimens of similar quality and size.

    3. Disposals

    No specimen in the collection is considered to be a disposable asset - the Museum's charter provides strict safeguards and restrictions on disposals of the specimens themselves.

    4. Interest Receivable

    Interest is received gross of tax each June.

    Balance Sheet

    Position as at 31st March 2010

    INCOME (£)
    Gift Shop Sales0.000.00
    Stock in Hand747.35747.35
    Cash In Hand508.33405.13
    Interest Received1.293.20

    Purchase of Fixed Assets401.46339.30
    Operating Costs239.26319.77


    Interest Received1.293.20
    Cash in Hand508.33405.13
    Stock in Hand747.35747.35

    Position as at 31st March 2010

    OPENING BALANCE2937.542808.44
    plus Acquisitions2118.49339.30
    less Depreciation403.52210.20
    CLOSING BALANCE4652.512937.54

    Working Capital1256.971155.68
    Value of Collection21051.0219924.99
    Current Assets146.09124.11
    Fixed Assets4652.512937.54
    TOTAL ASSETS27105.2924142.32

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