Tributes have poured in for the man who was known as the "father of the Jurassic Coast", Professor Denys Brunsden.

Professor Brunsden, a noted geomorphologist who lived at Seatown in west Dorset, died last week.

Prof Brunsden first conceived the idea of applying for World Heritage Status for Dorset and east Devon’s Jurassic Coast.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Professor Denys Brunsden on the beach at Seatown in 2006Professor Denys Brunsden on the beach at Seatown in 2006 (Image: John Gurd)

Tony Flux, Dorset Coast Fund chairperson, said: "It is with great sadness that we must report the death of Denys Brunsden who was one of the co-founders of the Dorset Coast Forum in 1994 and became the very first chairperson, a role he maintained for some 12 years.

"It was during this exciting period that Denys steered the young forum towards an application for world heritage status for the Dorset and East Devon coastlines.

"The apocryphal story says that he and others were having a drink in a local pub when Denys suggested that the adjacent coastline was so important geologically and geomorphologically, that it deserved to be recognised and elevated on to the world stage and hence the seven-year journey towards receiving that accolade.

"Denys remained a patron of the Jurassic Coast Trust until the very end of his life.

"It is also worth conjecturing that the recognition now given to Mary Anning as the ‘Mother of Paleontology’ would not have happened without the world heritage status accolade (conceived by Denys) and that her contribution to world science would have remained in obscurity.

"His knowledge and expertise in the field was second to none and his willingness to support others, especially students and those developing their skills and craft were well known and a further testament is that many of his former students now hold positions of importance in the field of geology and the associated sciences.

"The structure and composition of the Dorset Coast Forum may have evolved over the past 30 years but the ethos of respecting and caring for the Dorset coast, that formed the basis to build upon that Denys gave us has certainly not changed."

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Denys Brunsden in 2005 opening the reinstated St Gabriel's Steps at the Golden Cap Estate in the wind and rainDenys Brunsden in 2005 opening the reinstated St Gabriel's Steps at the Golden Cap Estate in the wind and rain (Image: Jim Tumpin)

Cllr Simon Christopher, Dorset councillor for Marshwood Vale, said: "I knew Denys for many years in my capacity as a district councillor and then a Dorset councillor.

"He was a great character who got hugely involved in the local community.

"He was an inspirational figure and if anyone was responsible for the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site - it was Denys.

"He was very keen to protect the heritage of Charmouth which was a priority of his.

"A World Heritage Status of a landscape stretching from Devon and through most of Dorset - that is his legacy and it is a huge legacy.

"He had time for people, he liked to sit and have a drink and speak to people, he was seen and known around Chideock and he had good strong views.

"When I became a district councillor nine years ago he was very helpful.

"He was a great listener and very well respected. He brought a lot of gravitas to a meeting, people would listen to his every word.

"He loved Chideock and Chideock people really liked him.

"It is a really great loss."

A spokesperson for Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre said: "We said our goodbyes yesterday to the amazing 'Father of the Jurassic Coast' Denys Brunsden.

"A coming together of family, friends, the church, artists, geomorphologists and academics. The beautiful Eulogy delivered by Professor Robert Allison, one of Denys' PhD students, highlighted his generosity and how many people Denys reached out to across all communities to inspire, educate and to enjoy life!"
Ali Ferris, Earth Marine and Environment Manager at Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre said: "Our centre has been here for 40 years and Denys was involved for a long time.

"I have known and worked with him over the past decade and he is absolutely phenomenal.

"He was working until the week he passed away, he worked right until the very end.

"He will be missed."