A national science grant is to fund a celebration of the life and work of an Isle of Wight man known as the Britain’s “greatest dinosaur hunter”.
The work of Reverend William Fox, once the curate of St Mary’s Church in Brighstone, is being lauded thanks to the Royal Society’s Local Heroes scheme.
He personally discovered more species of dinosaurs, and has more species named after him, than any other Englishman.
The Victorian fossil-hunter lived in Myrtle Cottage near the village and amassed a collection of more than 500 dinosaur bones, collected along the coast between Atherfield and Compton Bay.
When he died, his collection was acquired by the Natural History Museum (London).
Dinosaur Isle will celebrate his life and achievements with self-guided tours taking visitors off the beaten track around the area where he conducted some of his extraordinary fossil hunting.
Curator, Dr Martin Munt, said:
“We are delighted to have been awarded this grant by the Royal Society. It will make possible a special initiative inviting the public to celebrate the contribution of Rev William Fox to the early days of dinosaur fossil collecting. The trail, guided walks and loans of original fossils collected by Fox will help bring his legacy home to the Island community.”
Executive member with responsibility for culture, Councillor Shirley Smart, said:
“This grant is great recognition for Dinosaur Isle, and acknowledges its special place and that of the Isle of Wight in this area of science. We are honoured that the Royal Society has chosen to award this grant and that it can be used to broaden people’s knowledge of the important role played by Rev William Fox.”
Professor Jonathan Ashmore, chair of the Royal Society Local Heroes judging panel, said:
“The Royal Society Local Heroes scheme is a fantastic nationwide celebration of past and present scientists and their influential achievements right across the UK. The UK has a rich and diverse history of science which provides important routes for modern day society to deepen its understanding of the modern world. Science drives local and international economies and is an important ingredient in our history, identity and cultural heritage, which is why it’s so important for it to be recognised through schemes such as Local Heroes. The scheme will unite and encourage local communities to run creative workshops demonstrating local scientific triumphs, and will attract audiences to engage with the life and work of scientists in their area.”