Covid-19 has affected all our lives and this presented a huge challenge to how (and if) we could operate the fort. We had to close our doors in late March and no volunteers, staff or visitors could come on site with the exception of one member of the trustee board who kindly carried out basic housekeeping tasks and weekly checks.
In early June the trustees formed a small task force focussed on if/how the fort could be opened to volunteers and ultimately to the public. A four-phase plan was developed:
Phase 1 – Closed to public: volunteer restrictive working
Phase 2 – Pre-opening: feasibility, risk assessments, planning, implementation of changes
Phase 3 – Limited trial using volunteers – assessed by trustee board members
Phase 4 – Fully open to the public (monitor and continuously improve)
With the support and guidance from English Heritage and as the government restrictions became relaxed, we were able to get a small team of volunteers on-site to give the fort some much needed TLC and to start preparing for a limited trial opening.
We decided to try to open for weekends only in early August, after spending several weeks planning and organising a new way to operate safely with the new Covid restrictions. The new Covid measures included:
So how did we do?
Since opening in August, over 6000 tickets were sold through the online booking system, so overall a fantastic result considering the challenging circumstances. As for income directly to LFT, the shop took just over £5,000. We started selling drinks and light snacks from the dedicated tearoom rather than just from the shop (to avoid long queues/congestion). This proved very popular with our visitors, generating a total income of nearly £4000. In the last month we purchased a new credit card terminal for the ticket office. This allowed us to generate additional income from guide books and children’s trails. During October this generated £1,400 so with all three outlets we had a total income of £10,400 - which is fantastic considering this was over 2/3 days a week over 13 weeks.
A huge thank you to everyone who volunteers at Landguard Fort and who have made this all possible.
Nicola Jane Barker