A MAJOR heritage project in the name of a forgotten scientific hero has won thousands of pounds of lottery funding.

The North-East Yorkshire Geology Trust has secured £60,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and partners to celebrate the industrial and geological heritage of Loftus, east Cleveland.

It will partly focus on the achievements of Loftus man Lewis Hunton, who made a critical advance in the field of geology, but who died aged just 24 in 1838.

Hunton based his research around the Loftus area and made critical advances. His work became known as biostratigraphy, which focuses on correlating and assigning relative ages of rock.

As well as Hunton’s life, the new project will also focus on involving the community and launch new clubs, worskshops and provide internships for young people studying geology.

Mike Windle, director of the NE Yorkshire Geology Trust, said: “Engaging young people and school children is crucial in deprived regions such as the Loftus area and it is central to the ethos of NE Yorkshire Geology Trust.”

Matt Parsons, Education and Skills Manager at York Potash, which contributed £10,000 to the project, said: “This is a great community project to be supporting, especially as private funds can be matched with public to help the project go further.”

Lewis Hunton’s life will be celebrated with active geoconservation of relevant geological sites and blue plaques and interpretation panels at local sites such as his birthplace.

Hunton was the son of an alum trader and his grandfather worked at Loftus alum works.

One of nine children, he died of TB having written just one highly influential scientific journal. His understanding of the study of layers of rock is still useful to hundreds of geologists working around the world today although his name is largely forgotten.

The HLF provided £38,000 but other money came from York Potash, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which gave £2,000, and the Hanson-Heidelberg group, a heavy goods supplier to the construction industry, which gave £4,800.

NE Yorkshire Geology Trust is a not-for-profit organisation involved in protecting geodiversity.