National Trust rejects ‘one-size-fits-all, standard visitor model’ in bid to re-open Peckover House, Wisbech

Peckover House Wisbech is closed to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But now there are

Peckover House Wisbech is closed to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic. But now there are question marks over its future as the National Trust try to find a new operatying model. Picture; NATIONAL TRUST - Credit: Archant

On the day, the National Trust for East Anglia announced that “more of our doors are reopening this week” the shutters are still firmly down at Peckover House, Wisbech, as its future is decided.

Faced with expected losses this year of £200m the trust admits it is reviewing “every aspect” of its operation as they embark on an expected 1,200 job losses.

Russell Clement, general manager at Peckover for the National Trust, is adamant it will remain open but will embrace a new operating model.

“Our proposals include moving away from our current, one-size-fits-all, standard visitor model and focus on giving our staff greater flexibility to make the most out of the places they look after,” he said.

“We’ll encourage them to consider the best approach for each house, taking into account its size, location and character, so we can offer different but equally engaging experiences.”

He said: “The National Trust expects to lose up to £200m this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and at the end of July the charity announced proposals that are expected to result in 1,200 job losses across the organisation.

“We have reviewed every aspect of the charity and we propose to make savings in almost every area of activity. “We aren’t making public the detail of numbers of job losses in specific work areas or places because at this stage these are proposals and are subject to consultation.

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“Any suggestion that Peckover House is going to be ‘mothballed’ is incorrect.

One volunteer said: “I would like to say that the management at Peckover has been great keeping staff and volunteers advised during the pandemic.”

Ironically, the National Trust is celebrating its 125th birthday to commemorate its founding by three enthusiasts that included Wisbech social reformer Octavia Hill.

Peckover House has been part of the National Trust since 1944 after it was given to the charity by one of the last members of the Peckover family. It had previously been known as Bank House and both the property and 20 acres of grounds were handed over to the National Trust.

National Trust director Hilary McGrady said: “I am sad that we are having to propose losing any staff. I value every one of them.”

The trust has six million members, 15,000 staff and 70,000 volunteers.