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Client Case Study

Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills

Management and Visitor Attraction Sustainability Review and Income Generation Strategy

Waltham Abbey Royal Gunpowder Mills (WARGM) is the most important site for the history of explosives in Europe. The 69 hectares (156 acres) site can trace the history and manufacture of explosives from the 16th to the 20th Century.

WARGM operating company was increasingly reliant upon a growing annual grant from the WARGM Foundation due to declining visitor numbers, income, escalating costs and lack of re-investment.

BJA developed a new visitor attraction sustainability strategy including looking at the offer, each phase of the customer journey and the customer experience; income generation; a new operating model including management, staffing, roles and management and roles of volunteers; and ways of working.

The strategy included short- and long-term improvements, both with and without capital investment, the value of such capital and a business plan. This included being realistic as to how financially sustainable the attraction could be. The report showed that as a heritage visitor attraction, WARGM could be more economically sustainable with less financial support from the Foundation in the medium to long term.

The project covered admissions, annual passes, season tickets, donations and gift aid, guidebooks, pricing strategy, significant income-generating events, schools, activities and workshops, the role of volunteers, the marketing approach, and critical secondary spends, including retail, catering and venue hire.

The report includes visitor and financial projections for five years with all the main assumptions behind these and sensitivity analysis.

The market research report not only helped to guide improvements to the offer and target audiences but also helped with looking at the positioning of the WARGM as a visitor attraction and the brand given significant local competition from the surrounding parks, water parks, other related spaces and other local authority services, e.g., Lee Valley leading to the London Olympic Park.

The report, strategy, business plan and recommendations have led to significant change at WARGM OpCo company working with the Foundation. BJA has been providing ongoing interim senior project and operations management support since the beginning of December 2020, including implementing the Cultural Recovery Fund.


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