The Encyclopaedia of Plymouth History
Marine Biological Association
The Marine Biological Association was formed in 1884 and Plymouth was chosen as the site for its laboratory and aquarium because of its rich flora and fauna. They readily accepted the site under the Royal Citadel offered by the War Department as it was possible to maintain direct salt-water contact.
The world renowned headquarters of the Association was opened on Saturday June 30th 1888 by Professor (later Sir) W H Flower (1831-1899), director of the Natural History Museum and president of the Zoological Society. The ceremony was also attended by the Prime Warden of the Fishmongers' Company, Sir James Clarke Lawrence, a past Lord Mayor of London, as well as Mr Robert Bayly and Mr John Bayly, of Plymouth, both governors of the Association. After the ceremony a luncheon was held at the Grand Hotel.
At that time there were 80 trawlers working from Plymouth averaging 43 tons.
The Marine Biological Association's website gives access to detailed descriptions, drawings and photographs of the facilities that existed in the old building.
As this facility grew in popularity after the end of the War, it was redesigned and improved and re-opened in June 1959.
This closed in 1998 when the National Marine Aquarium was opened.
The National Marine Aquarium
The National Marine Aquarium is located at the Fish Quay, Coxside, Plymouth.
In 1988 the Marine Biological Association started a thorough investigation of the existing aquarium facilities as a result of which the Curator, Doctor Geoffrey Potts, recommended that they construct a completely new aquarium on a different site, built to world-class standards and using the most modern technology and materials.
Luckily, this coincided with the British Government's desire to regenerate the Coxside and Cattedown areas so once the design and funding were in place, partly supported by the British Government and the European Community, work started on the site at alongside Sutton Harbour in November 1996. It was designed by Messrs Lacey Hickie Caley Architects.
The National Marine Aquarium was opened to the public in May 1998. The displays were themed to run from "Moorland Stream" at the top of the building down the river to the sea and the "Shark Theatre".
An extension was opened in 2002 and work is currently in
progress on a phase 3.
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