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General Manager’s review of the 2020 season

20 May 2021

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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:

  • A one-way route around all of the Fort.
  • An online booking system via SeeTickets and English Heritage
  • A new booklet handout (instead of the audio guides)
  • Hand sanitising stations around the Fort
  • PPE including face masks and gloves
  • A separate, dedicated tearoom
  • Protectives screens in the shop, ticket office and tearoom
  • Outdoor seating with parasols (in nice weather)
  • Extra indoor seating, all socially distanced
  • New risk assessments and a capacity study
  • A greatly increased requirement for volunteers to work on site during opening
  • Card payment only – no cash accepted.

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

General Manager