Rocket house ready for lift off

The former ‘rocket house’ at Ilfracombe Pier has been restored as an extension of Ilfracombe Aquarium.

FISH will soon be the only ones at Ilfracombe Aquarium getting wet following the attraction’s expansion in to the former lifeboat “rocket house” next door.

The old building on the pier has been refurbished to create a multi-use indoor caf� area and something the aquarium has lacked until now, with limited space and seating outside only.

Thought to be around 100 years old, the rocket house was once used to store and fire the maroon rockets that alerted RNLI volunteers to a lifeboat shout, a practice which has only ceased in recent years.

It was also used to store the lifeboat tractor when the boat was towed along the quay for launching


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Aquarium owner Lawrence Raybone said as well as a caf� facility they hoped to use the restored building as an education space for school groups, as well as possible retail space, for birthday party hire and to display work by local artists.

He acquired the lease for what had more recently been used as a fisherman’s store some 18 months ago and applied for a change of use to help draw visitors to the aquarium.

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“We’re just pleased to be able to restore a lovely old building and return a bit of character to it,” he added.

“It will obviously increase our appeal as a destination and hopefully provide us with greater employment opportunities. This will enable us to remain open longer through the winter.

“We continue to try and maintain a level of reinvestment year on year.”

Lawrence is hoping to install historical information boards in the Rocket House and would like to hear from anyone who has old photographs he could borrow or information about the building’s past. He can be contacted on 01271 864533.

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