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Changes at Old Warden

Old 7th Aug 2021, 18:05
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Changes at Old Warden

Theres been some changes at Old Warden.

You used to be able to drop in for an hour, grab a tea and sandwich, watch any activities for a while and go on your way.
You paid for entrance into the museum and workshops.
I've done this many times, as well as being a member and paying for visits into the museum and airshows.

Not any more...

It'll now cost £15 to get through the gates, so it's all or nothing.
It appears that there may be a new ex-Duxford manager running the place...
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 18:27
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Oh dear. Sounds like a 21st Century approach to punters ... as opposed to the 20th century customers and passengers. As I have commented in other forums, everyone now trying to get the money in the door to catch up on 2020. I sit to be corrected.

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Old 7th Aug 2021, 18:32
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There's a 'Strategic Plan' (It downloads a PDF) available from the Shuttleworth website.
It includes the usual corporate speak:
To grow and diversify our audience to at least match the growth and diversity of our region and
To position the Trust as a valued local partner, a salient regional player, and a recognised national brand

We will:
Audiences
Increase our daily and air show visitor numbers by 50%
Target specific markets to diversify our visitors
To increase our BAME visitors to 20% of our audience.
Use our size and influence in the local area to promote our value to the community
The general complaint on the Facebook pages and forums is that they are sucking the unique character out of the place...
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:05
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I have to say this is the most beautiful and romantic aerodrome I know of. Having a picknick and watching those Edwardians fly on a summer evening is a life changing experience.
Certainly worth 15 pounds.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:20
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Rather a lot of years ago, I flew into Old Warden with a flight of seven Vilga aircraft from the Polish navigation competition team. As a regular visitor in my PA-28, they needed a local guide. Loved going there in the days when you phoned up for PPR and that was it....apart from a low pass to 'clear the sheep from the runway'.

Last edited by clareprop; 7th Aug 2021 at 20:05.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:39
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What a shame, I often dropped in for a quick bite to eat and coffee on the commute up or down the A1. Enjoyed the food as well as whatever was going on, plus it always felt good to give the profit to Old Warden rather than a faceless service station!

The whole charming atmosphere of the place could be in jeopardy if “modern” short term’ism business practices are introduced.

Hope it doesn’t end badly, but the writing may be on the wall?
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:41
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Just go and buy a SVAS or Swiss Garden pass for £40-£50 and you’ll get entry for 12 months as many times as you want for the whole family and this includes the museum and Swiss gardens. Before I went to the museum once now been multiple times.

Check out their website ( before anyone says, no I don’t work there).
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:42
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This should be kept and funded as a national treasure, seriously.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:48
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Flying in to visit Old Warden, I believe, is exceptionally good value

From the website:

“The landing fee of just £10 also grants you and you passengers free access to the attractions (normal fee is £15 per adult) on non-event days. However, we do ask you make an additional donation in the Collection shop for your passengers if you have come to visit the attractions.”
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 19:50
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I went to the recent 75th anniversary Chipmunk event at Old Warden. Entry was via a long winded route through the estate rather than just through the gate by the hangars. Tickets were being issued by staff on the entry road who had a hand held card reader. Wishing to support the charity, I asked if I could gift aid my donation and was told they did not have the facility. During the day I called at the gift shop to ask them the same question and was told gift aid could only be done with online bookings.
I have paid at the ticket desk at many museums who have been only too happy to accept the extra money that gift aid brings. Old Warden must be either too wealthy or too dis-organised to turn down the chance of extra income.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 21:21
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Yep, as above. It's Summer holidays so took the children up there this week to sit in the cafe and have an ice cream and watch the goings-on. As described, entry is now via the long and winding road, only to be met with the ticket gang demanding £15 entry. "What even to just visit the cafe???". "Yes."
They lost a customer.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 21:52
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Originally Posted by Nige321 View Post
Theres been some changes at Old Warden.

You used to be able to drop in for an hour, grab a tea and sandwich, watch any activities for a while and go on your way.
You paid for entrance into the museum and workshops.
I've done this many times, as well as being a member and paying for visits into the museum and airshows.

Not any more...

It'll now cost £15 to get through the gates, so it's all or nothing.
It appears that there may be a new ex-Duxford manager running the place...
I'd guess that the bean-counters have looked at the profit margin on your tea and sandwich and decided that a sufficient proportion of drop-ins will pay the new charge to justify the change.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 22:01
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It has always been, quite rightly in my view, relaxed around Old Warden in respect of checking of who has bought a ticket and who hasn’t.

it was very easy to walk through the shop and onward to the displays with only a sticker on your jumper to indicate that you had paid.

I suspect a few of the cafe visitors may have been gaining free access to the museum and OW had to take more positive control of it - there is always a minority that will spoil it for the majority.

As someone stated earlier, buy an annual membership and gain unlimited access for 12 months - they have had next to no income for 12 months+.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 22:02
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
I'd guess that the bean-counters have looked at the profit margin on your tea and sandwich and decided that a sufficient proportion of drop-ins will pay the new charge to justify the change.
Or the just haven’t thought it through...🤔
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 22:17
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Just checked - join SVAS for £30 - unlimited entry to the Collection for 12 months (apart from event days which still gain a discount).

No pleasing some people.
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Old 8th Aug 2021, 06:16
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People choose to go to places like this, so pay to get in. £15 is well worth it. If you can't afford £15, maybe consider how much it cost you to get there.
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Old 8th Aug 2021, 06:49
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Seems to me that there are some points being missed here. Clearly there is a 'drop in' clientele for the cafe and a need to control entry to the wider site. I can't see any reason why both cannot be done without the need to charge £15 for someone who just wants a coffee and chill.

It wouldn't take much (surely?) to control entry to the hangars and avoid alienating what would appear to be a significant part of your faithful customers who only want a cup of tea. It's a bit smug to talk about 'how much it cost to get there' when OAPs and others have to watch every penny.

So yes, a £30 membership makes sense, but that's quite a few cups of tea.
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Old 8th Aug 2021, 08:41
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Cynical me !
Ensure fewer visitors. Declare it unviable. Move the collection to Duxford.
Sell the site for profit. Hope I am wrong.
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Old 8th Aug 2021, 09:00
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Excuse a nostalgic drift. About 70 yrs ago, infrequent visits by cycling several miles to look through the iron gates at aeroplanes, occasionally rewarded by open hanger doors.
The ultimate reward, an invite to take a closer look, walk round the hangers, smell the fabric dope and ancient engine oil … all for free.

Many years later, managed a flying visit in a ‘foxy’ aircraft; best untold - no wheel marks in the grass (honestly guv) … singed grass from the jet pipes ?
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Old 8th Aug 2021, 09:58
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"customers who only want a cup of tea"

But they don't want JUST a cup of tea - they can get that at a Costa for £4 - they want a cup of tea AT OLD WARDEN - to breathe the sacred fumes and look out on the airfield. I know the feeling - when in the vicinity I often manage to stop for a coffee at the 'Bushe Cafe (no extra charge) whereas I'd probably get as good a cup in more comfortable surroundings down the road in Hartley Witney - but no aeroplanes in sight.

The answer is to restrict access to the whole site for those who want to see it and charge extra for those who "just want a coffee" - but not the full price - maybe £1 extra a head?

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