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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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£150,000 expansion of Cumbrian aquarium

Exciting times are ahead for a major tourist attraction in Maryport as work on a £150,000 extension is set to start next month.

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Way to grow: Mark Vollers, owner of the Lake District Coast Aquarium in Maryport

Mark Vollers, owner of the Lake District Coast Aquarium, revealed earlier this year how he wanted to extend the popular cafe and make the display area bigger.

He has now announced that the work, which would see the cafe space doubled, is due to begin in the New Year.

Plans also include giving the cafe, which is the venue’s growth business, its own website so that people from outside the area know it is an eating place in its own right.

Mr Vollers said the cafe had been the venue’s growth business and had held its own during the recession.

“It has now become independent of the aquarium,” he said. “Local people know it is here and come to our theme nights.”

Mr Vollers, who set up the business in 1997, said that the extension may mean more jobs. It currently employs 25 people and attracts around 40,000 visitors a year.

Mr Vollers said the extension would allow them to open up the exhibits so people could see more behind steel and glass barriers. It would be built onto an area now used for crazy golf.

He said he hoped the extension could be completed by the end of next year.

“Last year was a difficult year for us, as it was for the tourism sector as a whole. Attractions like ours are feeling the pinch,” he said.

“If this all goes ahead we should get busier. It’s a way for us to grow.”

It is the second piece of good news for the harbourside as it was revealed that the Shiver Me Timbers playground has been saved for another 12 months. The town council has agreed to continue the lease of the popular play area, which is also being run by Mr Vollers.

The council has warned, however, that it will have no further involvement in the playground from the end of next year. It has urged Maryport’s harbour authority to sell the land to Mr Vollers, who took over the insurance, maintenance and supervision when Maryport Development Limited, now part of the harbour authority, looked to close it down.

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