Steve Etches lives in Kimmeridge, in a house fronted by a large standing stone. In a humidity-controlled outbuilding is his collection of rare (some of them unique) fossils from the Kimmeridge Clay. It’s not open to the general public, but he showed the Club round it on 6 February 2000. Steve is a plumber.
(To the tune of “I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts”)
When next in Kimmeridge in Dorset,
Go and see Steve Etches’ wondrous store.
Brilliant! Splendid! Example to us all!
Fossils galore from the Kimmeridge shore
Excite, inspire, enthral.
When winds are blowing hard in Kimmeridge,
Steve goes to the beach to see what’s there:
Shark jaws, pliosaurs, unique and varied things.
He once hurt his back with a big fossil stack –
That’s what devotion brings!
Steve found a lovely row of vertebrae.
There they were, just peeping from the clay:
Big ones, small ones, some from near the head.
Gave them a clout and got them all out,
Intact within their bed.
‘Conservation saves things from the elements,
Stops them being scavenged by the waves.
Chip them, scrape them, clean them with a blast;
Arrange all the bits until each one fits
To reconstruct the past.’
He’s got a day job doing plumbing
(Helps to keep the wild wolf from the door).
Detecting, collecting, protecting all his finds
Has to be done in the time he’s not plumbing –
That’s how the man unwinds.