The harbour aquarium at Mevagissey is housed in the old R.N.L.I. lifeboat house, which was completed in 1897, and housed 3 different lifeboats until 1930 when the advent of motor lifeboats caused the closing down of many of the smaller lifeboat stations, Mevagissey being one of these.
Since the 1930s the lifeboat house has had many uses, from cafe, shop, gun emplacement during the second world war (manned by the Home Guard) and in the mid 1950s it turned into an aquarium. For the last 50 years the aquarium has opened to the delight and interest of visitors and locals alike, and also giving complementary visits to groups of school and college students. Until the mid 1980s the aquarium was leased from the harbour; however from then on it has been run by the harbour, gaining charitable status in 1988.
Over the years much work has been carried out, preparing the aquarium for the season; tanks to clean, leaks to seal up, annual decorating, pumping systems to overhaul and general structural maintenance. In 2004 it was realised that the 50 year old tanks required replacement, and costs were found to carry out this. As the costs were high it was considered prudent to check the structure of the building by a civil engineer. This was carried out and the roof of the building was condemned. As the aquarium is part of a listed structure, and the roof was constructed of concrete, it was decided that the roof should be re-constructed with a similar material.
To fund the project, the Heritage Lottery Fund was approached for a grant. This was successful and a grant of £50,000 was allocated, which would enable the replacement of the structure of the roof and pay for new education and interpretation media within the aquarium. The local Restormel Council also contributed £15,000. However costs of building repairs and new tanks being high, they still have a major shortfall in funding.
They have been lucky enough to have sums of money pledged to them to assist with the cost of some of the new tanks, and in recognition of the generosity of these pledges, they have placed plaques inside the aquarium to remember them. The aquarium is an important part of the harbour, and is not only a very important visitor attraction (averaging 35,000 visitors in a season) but also an extremely important interface between the general public and the fishing industry.
Open • 10:00 – 20:00
27 Polkirt Hill