The National Trust in the North East of England has had a record numbers of visitors, with more than 900,000 people going to its pay- for-entry properties and locations from March 2011 to February, 2012 This is a 12 per cent rise on the previous year’s figures.
Liz Fisher, assistant director of operations for the Trust in the North East, was thrilled at the news and said: “We’re delighted to have welcomed more than 900,000 visitors to our places in the North East.
It is really heartening to see that in times of recession people are valuing the enjoyment that days out at National Trust places can offer. I think the value for money our membership offers combined with our continued investments to improve our facilities and the experiences we offer has led to this success.”
Above 50 percent of the National Trust’s North East properties and places have received record numbers of visitors. They include Wallington, near Morpeth, which is the most visited National Trust place in the North East, and and Gibside, near Rowlands Gill, which has had numbers increase from 60,000 to over 165,666 in the past ten years. In addition, Seaton Delaval Hall, Souter Lighthouse at Whitley Bay, Washington Old Hall and George Stephenson’s Birthplace have also had a record year for visitors.
The property manager at Gibside in Tyne and Wear, Mike Wilkes speculates about the increase in numbers. He said: “A lot of our success is down to improvements in our facilities and events programme. Over the past year we’ve installed a new adventure play area for families, developed the events programme so that we offer something different every weekend and every day of the school holidays from Tai Chi to den building, and doing more to promote the variety of experiences we offer, particularly opportunities to see wildlife and nature at its best.”
Membership fees starting at £39.75 for an individual and £43.50 for a family. These affordable feeds offer hundreds of days out and free entry to the National Trust’s pay for entry places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In total, the National Trust has more than four million members nationally, and more than 137,000 of them live in the North East of England.
Liz added that continued support for the places the Trust looks after has enabled it to reinvest in the North East of England. She said: “The National Trust is a charity and it relies on income from membership sales and paying visitors as well as retail and catering sales to conserve the places we look after. We are continually looking to invest in the places in our care to ensure we are offering the best possible day out for our supporters and balancing that with the conservation needs of our built and outdoor spaces.”
In the next 24 months the Trust will invest in projects worth millions of pounds devised to to improve the visitor welcome and facilities at Gibside and Wallington Morpeth. It will also strive to offer value for money.
Liz explained: “This year we’ve agreed to a price freeze on all admission prices at our pay for entry places in the North East of England, and prices will remain what they were in 2011.
“We hope this decision will encourage more people to come out and enjoy the range of experiences the Trust has to offer in our country houses, castles, gardens and parklands, as well as the free countryside and coastal sites that we conserve for everyone to enjoy. We also have big plans for our events programme this year including lots of events to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June and a Walking Festival in October.”
In addition, the National Trust announced that it’s retail and catering outlets in the North East of England have experienced a massive increase in sales. The year-on-year increases are nine percent and 17 percent respectively.