‘Generations of kids will fall in love with Lewes dinosaur’

Roby Braun's prototype of the Lewes dinosaur monument. Photograph by Dino Bishop
Roby Braun's prototype of the Lewes dinosaur monument. Photograph by Dino Bishop

The Lewes Dinosaur Project is officially up and running, with the top priority being to find it a lair.

A model of the beast was unveiled at Friday’s launch, which took place at The Depot Cinema in Lewes.

Costing £100,000, it would be a life-sized Mantellisaurus measuring almost 10ft (3m) in height and 23ft (7m) in length.

The project aims to establish a permanent memorial in the town of his birth to the extraordinary schievements of Dr Gideon Mantell.

The surgeon and geologist is credited with inspiring the first dinosaur studies following his discovery of the fossilised bones of what he called an iguanadon in 1822. It has since been named Mantellisaurus in his honour.

Writer John May, who staged the acclaimed exhibition of The Kiss in Lewes in 1999, told guests at the launch that it was important to capture the imaginations and involvement in the project of local schoolchildren.

Internationally renowned model maker Roby Braun, of Cycad Productions, is the man charged with casting the dinosaur in fibreglass. He brought his prototype to the launch from his base at Watermill, New York, in the United States.

He drew parallels with the Loch Ness Monster, saying: “This will be the Nessie of Lewes. Generations of kids will fall in love with her.”

Dr Mantell, the father of palaeontology, was described by Deputy Mayor Cllr Janet Baah as “a hero” who had shown both courage and dedication.

Several possible locations for the dinosaur have been earmarked, including Lewes Castle, Priory Park, The Paddock, Baxter’s Field and the Railway Land. Other suggested venues include The Depot Cinema, the Pells lake, the North Street Quarter, Grange Gardens and Southerham Roundabout.

Other ideas would be welcomed – email debby.matthews@yahoo.co.uk