Agenda item

Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse

Report by the Western Area Manager.


Mr Robin Hanley presented highlights from the report which covered the period between January to September 2013.


The Museum opened with a ‘Behind the scenes’ trial event for Museum pass holders only.  This was a chance for visitors to meet volunteer teams, and visit parts of the museum which were not normally open access to the public.  There were 800 people in attendance and very positive feedback had been received.


The event programme was the key driver for key sales, particularly those with museum passes.  Events were based on three operational modes, main event days, days with a difference and ticketed events.


The 2013 programme of events consisted of a number of new events as well as maintaining the core events.  Each event was reviewed and would shape the programme for 2014. 


Following the success of the Breckland Festival in 2012, Gressenhall hosted the event again in 2013 which was organised and funded by Breckland District Council.  In 2012, 772 visitors attended the event, however this year saw over 2000 of which staff stepped up to the challenge.  Everyone was very pleased with the event and were looking into the potential for running it again in 2014.


The Village at War event was held August Bank Holiday weekend which saw the full Battle of Britain memorial flypast.  There were over 3,500 participants for this event.


Apple day had just taken place on 20 October.  Again it was a very good event and had received huge positive feedback.


During the summer holidays the museum offered a comprehensive programme which was themed throughout the 6-weeks.  It had been marketed throughout all cluster schools and resulted in over 17,000 visitors during the summer holidays.  It had been a great opportunity to sell museum passes.


Gressenhall hosted Radio 4’s Gardeners Question Time and the recording session generated significant media interest and coverage for the site.


Planning was underway for a programme of activities in 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One.


The Rediscover Gressenhall marketing campaign which featured discounted entry during April and was aimed to recruit new museum pass members and to capture email contact details for use in follow-up electronic marketing, proved to be very successful with the site welcoming over 11,000 visitors in April, and resulted in very strong pass sales.  The museum looked to repeat this campaign in 2014.


A heritage grant application had been submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Voices from the Workhouse project.  It would focus on providing new displays in the main museum building, work yards and laundry, with an emphasis on those galleries relating to the workhouse and Norfolk’s rural life collections.


Gressenhall continued to maintain its strong social media activities and had an active Twitter and Facebook account.  This helped to raise awareness of events at the museum.


Research had been carried out based on the exit surveys undertaken during 2013. It reinforced that the site was a family attraction with 70% of visitors arrived in parties including children.  


Staff were continuing to invest in the site, and a new CCTV system had been installed providing day/night coverage.


The new Seeds Merchants shop had opened in Village Row and the Taylor Brothers had attended the opening event.


Gressenhall continued to develop a range of commercial activities as a way to generate new income.


The Friends and Volunteers of Gressenhall continued to provide valuable support to the museum, and they were heavily reliant on volunteer teams across the site.  There were currently 130 volunteers at the moment of which the site could not function without them.


The Gressenhall Learning team continued to provide a broad programme to children which attracted between 11,000 – 12,000 children on site during 2013.


There were changes to the national curriculum of which the learning team were looking to re-scope programmes to ensure they offered relevant topics.


Gressenhall was also hosting two trainees as part of the Teaching Museum programme and recruitment was currently underway for the next cohort of trainees for January 2014.  One of these trainees would be based at Gressenhall and work on the event programme for 2014.


The Skills for the Future training programme continued to run from strength to strength covering a variety of activities.


Visitor numbers were up on 2012 figures with just under 50,000 visitors to the end of September.


The Chairman thanked Mr Hanley for his report.


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