Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Visitor numbers expected to pass 400,000 mark.
Allhallows Museum in Honiton is expected to reach a new milestone in its history when it reopens for the 2013 season.
Since the museum opened at the end of 1946, many visitors have passed through its doors, and it is hoped the attraction will soon pass the 400,000 milestone.
It expects to reach this figure in the first weeks of April.
Museum treasurer Howard Foss said: “In the early years, there were only around 3,000 visitors a year and it was 1965 before the 50,000 mark was reached.
“Then new interest was sparked by the discovery of the hippo bones when they excavated the bypass.
“By 1976 the 100,000th visitor arrived and things really improved in 1979 when volunteer stewards were introduced and the shop was added.”
Mr Foss told the Midweek Herald that much higher attendance figures were seen in the 1980s when tourism took off and Honiton Pottery would bring coachloads of visitors into the town.
He added: “The best year ever was 1985 when over 15,000 visits were made and the 200,000 target was reached in 1986.”
However, Mr Foss says visitor numbers began to fall from the early 1990s, with the lure of cheap foreign holidays, and Honiton Pottery finally closed.
By the start of the new millennium the museum had annual figures of less than 5,000. However, it still managed to pass the 300,000- visitor mark.
Mr Foss said: “In the last 13 years, big improvements have been made both to the building and the collection.
“Finally, in 2011, the decision was taken to open the museum without charge and this policy has paid dividends, with around 11,000 visitors in each of the last two years.
“Of these, about 80 per cent are people who live outside the immediate area, which goes to show the beneficial effect which the museum has on attracting tourism to Honiton.”
Allhallows Museum will be holding its annual meeting on Wednesday, March 20, at 10.30am, at the Mackarness Hall. All are welcome to attend.
The museum reopens for the 2013 season on Monday, March 25.