Meet the 23-year-old paelentology expert opening a new museum in Yorkshire with a treasure trove of fossils

If you’d visited London’s Natural History Museum on any given day over the past few years, the chances are you may have bumped into James Hogg.

The now 23-year-old was so entranced by the exhibits on display - from ‘Dippy’ the dinosaur skeleton to fossils from thousands of years ago - that he went almost every day during the time he was a student at the London School of Economics.

But for Mr Hogg, home is Sheffield - where there is no dedicated Natural History Museum in the city.

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That all changes on Saturday when he, along with a small group of volunteers, will open the Yorkshire Natural History Museum in the city centre.

Founder James Hogg is pictured with a fossil of a Ichthyosaur thought to be 175 million years oldFounder James Hogg is pictured with a fossil of a Ichthyosaur thought to be 175 million years old
Founder James Hogg is pictured with a fossil of a Ichthyosaur thought to be 175 million years old
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The Museum will be filled with a treasure trove of fossils from Mr Hogg’s private collection, amassed over the past few years.

“I’ve always been academically inclined, and as I got older, I grew a passion for the collection of fossils and study of palaeontology,” he said.

“And as for the museum - well, I’ve always wanted to have something up North.

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“Every day I lived in London, I spent at least a couple of hours at the museums.

“As a student, I’d study in the museums rather than the library. I’ve always wanted to support them in any way I can.”

That passion will come to fruition on Saturday. The new museum will be at the old Admiral Works on Holme Lane, and will feature, among other things, the skull of a domesticated dog believed to be around 15,000 years old and a fossil of a ichthyosaur thought to be 175 million years old.

Fossils from the Yorkshire Lias - marine sediments found on the coastline dating from the Jurassic period - will also form a key part of the collection.

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For Mr Hogg, the opening marks an exciting moment in the North’s cultural offering.

He said: “It’s mind-blowing that we don’t already have a natural history museum up here. It’s one of the injustices I want to balance. There is nothing wrong with the beautiful museums down South, but I wanted to bring one here.

“It’s not that museums down south are unfair - they are fantastic institutions that we can access. It’s just about bringing something back.”

While the museum is starting small, Mr Hogg already has big plans for its expansion in the coming years.

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“The site has been completely renovated from old Edwardian premises.

“I want it to act as a public indication as to what people want from a museum - and the plan is potentially to expand it to be a much bigger site in the future.

“The plan would be to stay in Sheffield.

“It’s a beautiful city which could really benefit from this institution.”

The Yorkshire Natural History Museum will be officially opened to the public on Saturday August 13 by paleontologist and TV personality Dean Lomax.

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While the new museum is Yorkshire’s latest dedicated natural history offering, the discipline has been studied in the region for centuries.

Rocks from 150-200 million years ago found on the “Jurassic Coast” in areas near Staithes, Runswick and Robin Hood’s Bay have long fascinated geologists.

The 18th century geololgical pioneer William Smith visited the coast and founded his Rotunda Museum in Scarborough in 1829.