One of the iconic structures of the English Riviera is getting an overhaul. Work is being carried out on the vast aviary net at Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo.
Clare Rugg, Living Coasts’ Operations Manager, said: “We have had a rolling program to replace every part of the net over the last few years. These are the last panels to be renewed. They are replacing two of the very top panels and some of the cross ropes, as well as replacing many of the lower level wall panels around the edges.” The works are scheduled to take five weeks from mid-October.
“Living Coasts is in a great spot right beside the sea, but it does mean we have to face storms head on! The net has stood up well to the elements - not just the rain, wind and cold but also the unseen threat of ultra violet rays from the sun which can weaken the netting fibres.”
The canopy at Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium is held aloft on 35 masts ranging in height from 2 to 22 metres. The surface area of the net is 5,500 square metres, which is 59,000 square feet or nearly 1.4 acres. The net creates a volume of 50,000m3 or 1.8 million cubic feet of free flight.
The net was installed by Vector in 2003 and is inspected and serviced regularly by Base Structures, from Bristol. Qualified rope access technicians climb the masts to de-tension and disconnect the top cleats. The new net panels are then hauled up on a pulley system and laid out across the existing net. They are attached to new steel cables for a rough fit and then secured with double stitching every 150mm. Once the new net has been fully stitched, the technicians climb along the cables to cut out the old net.
There are 14 roof nets in total at Living Coasts, as well as 27 wall nets and 3 internal dividing nets.

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