Our re-opening of the Buckfastleigh site to visitors during August and into September for a modest donation has continued to prove popular. The site only operations started on the weekend of 1 and 2 August opening from 10am until 4pm and have continued at weekends, plus Tuesday and Thursday in the week.
The first month has now seen us welcome over 3,000 visitors overall which have brought in a gross income, from all sources, of around £40,000 after the August Bank Holiday weekend. The site only operations are ideal as the whole operation is volunteer run and so the costs are minimal! We hope to carry on holding our site only days until the end of October, subject to demand, and will monitor our visitor numbers closely, but may perhaps have to trim back the mid-week operations if required.
Pleasingly, the SDR open site days are still seeing around 100-200 people to the site each day of operation, so that’s around 500 plus visitors a four-day week, and we are taking around £1,800-£2,000 a day in net donations, plus catering and shop income before costs. A lot of visitors are locals and all of them comment positively on the amount of free space we have at Buckfastleigh; how safe they feel with their families, and the friendly SDR staff to guide them around.
However, by way of stark contrast, the SDR would normally have been welcoming 500 – 1,000 people a day to the railway in July, August and September, taking £8,000-£10,000 a day in fares alone, so over double what it is currently seeing each week sadly! All of this rather underscores the need for us to continue the ‘SOS’ funding appeal despite our recent great gains this week! Our retail business has re-opened using volunteer staff, but not our café so far, just the car park kiosk serving a limited range of food and drinks.
The Buckfastleigh site will remain open every Tuesday and Thursday, plus weekends, from 10.00 until 16.00 until further notice, and the adjacent Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary opened in August too which is always popular and a big hit with children of all ages.
The weekend-only operation of the open-air Miniature Railway around the site and the live-steam Garden Railway have been big hits with visitors, but are subject to good weather, and both have featured recently in our popular weekly Facebook Live films each Sunday. The Miniature railway featured on the previous weekend’s broadcast, and the SDR’s Red iconic, former London Transport Routemaster double-decker bus, which gives free rides around Buckfastleigh on the days we are open, starred recently too with more to follow.
There’s plenty of space to enjoy our large 12-acre grounds in the sunshine, a large free car park, plus drinks, snacks and ice creams are on sale in our nearby kiosk. It’s the perfect way to spend a few hours on a nice day whilst avoiding the traffic jams and crowds at the beach and the Moors! Pix of the weekend’s open site events are available on request, plus the guide document for visitors which shows what’s on offer around our large, varied and interesting site.