Poor weather casts dark clouds over seafront attractions

Dan Radcliffe
Dan Radcliffe

SEAFRONT attractions have been battered by the poor summer weather with some reporting their worst seasonal trade in a decade.

The wet summer, one of the worst on record, has left several attractions reeling from the loss of trade especially from day trippers.

Pirate golf on the seafront

Pirate golf on the seafront

However indoor attractions such as the Shipwreck Museum are bucking the trend, partly due to the poor weather encouraging many visitors to go indoors.

Down at Hastings Miniature Railway, owner Dan Radcliffe, who runs the attraction with business partner David Miller, says he can’t remember a season like it.

“It’s been the worst summer I can remember,” he said. “I’ve been working here for 20 years and it has been really poor.

“We are down quite a bit already on last summer and we’ve got to tighten our belts.

“I think it’s a mixture of the weather and the economy. We rely on good weather here.
“Also the coaches are not dropping people off at The Stade any more. They used to get off the coaches and straight onto our trains.

“We need a decent August to help us. Last year we got a later summer in September and October. If we can get that again it would be a big boost.”

And it’s a similar situation at Hastings Adventure Golf. Simon Tompkins, general manager, said: “I’ve been working down here for 11 years and it’s been the worst summer season I can remember. Any wind or rain and we don’t get the daytrippers.

“We employ 30 staff who also rely on good weather. The bad weather means people don’t come and that means we have to reduce the hours of staff and send them home early.

“August is a crucial month for us with the school holidays. We only close on Christmas Day and good weather means good business for us.”

Ironically the Shipwreck Museum is 20 per cent up on visitors compared to this time last year.

Chair of the Museum Trustees, Jacqui Stanford, said: “We’re having a fantastic summer.

“It may be due to it being so wet that people are coming indoors.

“But we feel the Jerwood has helped us too possibly. However we get fewer people down here when there are events and festivals on.

“We do get a lot of visitors from London and they like to come in and have a look round. Free admission also helps I feel.”

Anne Scott, chair of the Trustees of the Old Hastings Preservation Society which runs the History House and Fishermen’s Museum said: “Financially we have maintained the status quo this summer. When the showers come, the visitors come.”

Councillor Peter Chowney, lead member for regeneration, said: “Feedback from cafes and pubs along the seafront has been good. Car parks in the Old Town are always full but outdoor attractions might be struggling.

“We sympathise but we have no power to reduce their business rates in sustained bad weather.”