Bath Abbey welcomed 420,000 visitors during 2012 and that’s an increase of 25,000 over the previous year.
Plus – despite the wet and windy summer – even the ‘Tower Tour’ increased sales and contributed £27,000 to the funds of the Abbey.
Both welcome items of news are contained in the Abbeys Annual Review which is available to pick up in the church.
Dawn Famer – Visitor’s Officer – says it’s amazing from how far and near people come from to be in Bath and visit the Abbey.
‘Here are some examples’, she says, ‘ Burma, Bath, Finland, Finchamsptead, Ghana, Guildford, South Africa, Stockport, Russia and Reading’
‘I dealt with 337 bookings in 2012 which was an increase of 74 compared to the previous year. The number of people booked via tour companies and other organisations totalled over 10,800 which was an increase of 2,500 on 2011. The guides provided 28 tours of the Abbey.’
Joe Reynolds, who is the Tower Tours Manager, said it had been a challenging year with the weather and the OLympics to contend with.
‘We took up fewer visitors than expected to admire the view atop Bath Abbey. Despite this we still ended 2012 with increased sales from the year before, contributing over £27,000 to the funds of the Abbey.’
Joe said a high point of the year was breaking the record for most visitors in a day twice, first on Holy Saturday and then again on the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday – taking 192 people up the tower.
‘This year,’ said Joe, ‘ we launched Romantic Tower Tours, an opportunity to experience all the elements of our regular tours but with an added twist – it’s just for two! We secured some good press coverage for this and, as soon as we put the details on our website, we received a call from someone who was interested in booking a tour as they planned to propose to their partner while on top of the Tower. Since then we have had 13 happy couples pop the big question.’
The effect of the Olympics was felt in the Abbey Shop where manager Liz Berrisford said after increased Easter sales it promised to be a good year.
‘At that stage l don’t think any of us would have guessed that the Olympics would draw tourists away from Bath with such strong magnetic force that our sales from mid-July to mid-September would be down by over £1,000 a week on the previous year.’
On the other hand the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee had enabled the shop to sell ‘£4,800 worth of Jubilee-related items ranging from books and bookmarks to mugs and 450 teaspoons – our Jubilee best-seller!’
The final surprise was that the shop ended one percent up on the previous year with takings of £372,000 giving a net profit to the Abbey of £45,000.