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Is the Castle Museum too expensive? Councillors debate ticket prices for attraction

PUBLISHED: 13:58 05 June 2019

The price of the Castle Museum has been questioned by councillors. Picture: Ian Burt

The price of the Castle Museum has been questioned by councillors. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

The price of entry to one of Norfolk's main tourist attractions has been put under scrutiny by councillors, after it welcomed almost 23,000 fewer visitors year on year.

Charles Wilde at the Castle Museum, Norwich. Charles Wilde at the Castle Museum, Norwich.

Norwich's Castle Museum brought in 199,402 visitors between April 2018 and March 2019 - compared with 222,260 the previous year.

The figure prompted a debate around ticket pricing among councillors, with Labour's George Nobbs arguing the attraction was too expensive. Currently, an adult ticket for the museum is £9.90, while tours of the battlements and dungeon come at additional fees.

However, Charles Wilde, marketing manager for the Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), revealed to committee members that with various discounts and memberships taken into account, the average the Castle received per visitor was £3.37.

This led to Mr Nobbs, county councillor for the Crome ward, suggesting around this figure should therefore be set as the standard cost.

Labour councillor George Nobbs has questioned the price of Norwich Castle Museum  Picture: DENISE BRADLEYLabour councillor George Nobbs has questioned the price of Norwich Castle Museum Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said: "Some people do think the price is too high - so if the average we get is £3.37 per visit, why not make that the full rate? I feel this would bring more people in.

"It is all well and good researching the views of people who do come - but I think we should do more to find out why the people who don't visit, do not come in."

However Mr Wilde said the argument that cheaper prices would result in more visitors was "questionable".

He said a third of the NMS's income came from admission prices, which would have to be compensated for should prices be reduced.

Norwich Castle Museum, Pic: Simon Finlay Photography.Norwich Castle Museum, Pic: Simon Finlay Photography.

Mr Wilde added: "There is an argument that because some of the income is from the tax payer that people locally are charged twice - but I don't see it that way.

"If we didn't charge people visiting from outside of the county would be getting something for free that the Norfolk people had paid for - so of course we're going to charge."
Meanwhile, Stuart Garner, Norwich Museums operations manager, said tools such as Trip Advisor were proving increasingly useful in gearing how the museum was run.

He said NMS regularly engaged with the online feedback tool to keep track of what concerns people had and that the attraction had an excellent rating on the site.

What do you think?

Simon Evans, a 29-year-old waiter, of West Pottergate, Norwich, said: "I went with my niece and nephew last month and had a really nice time - I don't actually remember how much we paid.

"I don't think £9.90 is unreasonable for a tourist seeing it for the first time, but it is a bit much for locals who have seen it before."

Freddie Last, 37. a secretary who lives in the city centre, said: "I attend quite a few charity events of theirs - it is a wonderful place. I think it is necessary that it charges as much as it does to keep it a good standard."

Chris Haylett, a 36-year-old bus driver from King's Lynn, said: "I've only ever been twice, the last time was about three months ago. I went on an evening ticket, which was really cheap."

"The price seems about right considering how good the exhibits are and its heritage - you'd pay much more to visit its equivalent elsewhere."

Jules McSheera, 50, of Spixworth, a cleaner, said: "I go about once a year as there's loads to see, but I worry a lot of families are being priced out."

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How does it compare?

Standard adult admission for the Castle Museum is £9.90. Here is how this figure compares with the standard adult admission to 10 other, randomly selection, similiar attractions.

- Blicking Hall, Norfolk: £14.85

- Edinburgh Castle, Scotland: £19.50

- Hampton Court, London: £21.30

- Lincoln Castle, Lincolnshire: £14

- Manchester Museum, Manchester: free

- Museum of Norwich, Norfolk: £6.20

- The Natural History Museum, London: free

- Time and Tide Museum, Norfolk: £6.20

- Warwick Castle: £28

- Yorkshire Museum: £7.27

The museum's standard admission prices are as follows:

Adults: £9.90

Concessions: £9.40

Child (four to 18): £8.50

Family with one adult: £26.10

Family with two adults: £34.85

Twilight ticket (admission for final hour before closing): £2.

The museum also provides group discounts, memberships and annual passes which reduce the overall cost of visiting.

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