Work on new Bristol aquarium begins
Work to convert Bristol’s former Wildwalk into a £4 million aquarium is under way ahead of its October opening.
Newquay firm Blue Reef has begun work to strip bare the former Wildwalk site and turn it into a venue which will employ 40 staff on opening.
The site, which includes the Imax cinema next to @Bristol, closed in April 2007 after operators revealed it was losing £1.5 million a year.
Workmen are currently excavating the site ahead of installation of two giant 10,000-litre fish tanks which will form the centre of the attraction.
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Ian Cunningham, managing director of Blue Reef, said: “We are delighted work is under way.
“The key points about the new display are that it will be accessible to all ages.
“We hope the site will open in October in readiness for the school half-term.”
The site will house a Lundy feature which will include fish and reptiles native to the island in the Bristol Channel.
The principal tanks over split levels will include a tropical Caribbean display, with black-tip reef sharks the main draw for visitors.
There will also be an Amazon display with a mini-waterfall, and there will be piranha tanks on display as well.
A further 45 displays will be dotted in and around the site, which will be open all year round with the exception of Christmas Day.
A cafe and aquatic-themed gift shop will also be on offer for customers.
The site had originally been due to open this summer, but the credit crunch meant financing had been delayed.
Mr Cunningham added: “The project has been financed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, but everything had to take a little longer as more people had to look at its viability, but the terms and conditions of the deal remained the same.
“We are delighted to be involved in creating what will be a world-class aquarium in a fantastic location and we are very much looking forward to working with the @Bristol team.”
At about 6,500 square feet, the site will be the largest aquarium operated by Blue Reef in the UK.
It plans to start recruiting staff for the aquarium in the next six weeks, and it will reopen the Imax cinema to show wildlife films.
Prices for entry will be £9 for adults and £7 for children, with a discounted membership scheme also on offer.