MAGNA has been awarded a £311,000 grant — after a “remarkable” post-lockdown push in which 22,000 summer visitors saved the science and heritage centre.
Chief executive Kevin Tomlinson thanked those who had turned out during the six-week holidays, with the number down on the usual 26,000 but income about the same because of the VAT cut.
“It was quite remarkable,” he said. “There were great positives about the whole thing and 99.9 per cent of feedback was good.
“Normally in the six-week holidays, our core attraction has 26,000 visitors. It’s the big period for us, that and Christmas keep us going through the quieter times of the year.
“This year we had 22,000 visitors, which was just way beyond all expectations and we are hugely thankful and grateful to the people who came.”
The Templeborough attraction reopens next Thursday until November 1, after which it will be weekends only.
And with the Christmas fair cancelled — and the festive parties likely to follow suit — a massive £311,000 grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund has helped stave off any winter cash crisis.
Mr Tomlinson said: “It’s not about profit and loss at this stage, it’s about whether we have enough cash to pay the staff.
“This money makes a huge difference to us in terms of being able to plan more effectively to the end of the year.
“We can now see the light that will get us through winter. It was there before, but it was flickering. It’s a fantastic piece of news for us, but we are still reliant on people coming.”
The August reopening included pre-booking only, a one-way system, cashless payments only, the cafe moved to the big hall and daily numbers capped at 800.
Mr Tomlinson said there had been more children accompanied by parents, rather than grandparents, perhaps because of fewer holidays abroad and more time off work.
Education and attraction manager Stuart Ballard said it was noticeable that some visitors had travelled further than the usual expected 60-minute radius.
The same social distancing set-up will be in place when the doors open next week, although fewer school visits are expected in late 2020 as the wave of optimism as the academic year started has faded with the rise in virus cases.
The £5.4 million Tram-Train stop at Magna is due to be built next year with Sheffield City Region cash, with part of the car park given over to a park and ride scheme.