THE FUTURE of Fowey's aquarium has been secured thanks to a maintenance company that was repairing pipework on the Quay.
Its future had been in doubt since a pipe carrying fresh seawater into the tanks sprang a leak last summer.
The community rallied round to provide a temporary solution but in the long term the badly corroded 2in steel pipe needed to be replaced.
May Gurney and EA Grey have been carrying out a major repair to the internal pipework in the pumping station on Fowey Quay under a contract from South West Water.
Aquarium owner Phil Croxton told May Gurney works manager Simon Rickarby and his crew about the problem and they worked in their own time to feed a plastic pipe inside the steel one and into the aquarium to restore the permanent seawater supply.
Mr Croxton said he was absolutely delighted and it was a tremendous relief to have the system running properly again.
"The pipe's the life support system of the aquarium and for eight months I've been trying to persuade the owners, Cornwall Council, to accept responsibility for repairing it, all to no avail," he said.
"'If you want something doing, ask a busy man, as my dad used to say, and what a contrast when May Gurney heard about the problem.
"With the co-operation of SWW they immediately offered to help and with great skill and dexterity succeeded in passing a new pipe inside the old one, right into the aquarium. It was amazing and made me quite emotional."
He said he could now begin the maintenance work that had been so delayed and the aquarium would open again as soon as possible.
"It's thanks to the dedicated approach of Simon and his team that Fowey still has an aquarium," said Mr Croxton. "Throughout this difficult period I've received tremendous support from the quay traders and the townspeople, so thanks to everyone."
The aquarium, opened 60 years ago, is used by academics from all over the UK because it keeps more than 30 species of local fish.
It is also popular with holidaymakers and Fowey's own children as they can visit and handle fish, lobsters and crabs, all of which rely on a daily influx of fresh seawater.
Mr Rickarby said he was proud of his workforce for volunteering their spare time to fix the pipe.
"They were excited about it," he said. "Once we'd finished our work on the Quay we'd do a bit of work on the pipe, then a bit more the following day.
"We're absolutely delighted to have helped. The aquarium is very important to Fowey – part of its heritage.
"To see the salt water going into the aquarium and to see the expression on Phil's face – that made it all for us."
A spokesman for South West Water said it and its contractors were committed to helping the communities where it was carrying out work as far as they could, and it commended the May Gurney team for "going the extra mile" to help the aquarium.