Tourists told to Hoo-ld back
THE National Trust's newest attraction which launched in a blaze of publicity is now urging visitors to postpone their trip until after Easter.With the car parks completely full at Sutton Hoo, the Anglo-Saxon ship burial site overlooking the River Deben and Woodbridge, its popularity forced the attraction to be temporarily closed for 30 minutes on Wednesday morning.
By Richard Smith
THE National Trust's newest attraction which launched in a blaze of publicity is now urging visitors to postpone their trip until after Easter.
With the car parks completely full at Sutton Hoo, the Anglo-Saxon ship burial site overlooking the River Deben and Woodbridge, its popularity forced the attraction to be temporarily closed for 30 minutes on Wednesday morning.
It can take more than 300 vehicles when the coach park is used for cars, and the overflow car park is operating. The exhibition centre, shop, restaurant and burial mound walk can cater for a maximum of 1,600 people during its seven-hour opening period.
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In its first 10 days since opening Sutton Hoo has had about 10,000 visitors. This is already 20 per cent of the total expected in a 12-month period – and is at least double the number of people who visited the burial mounds annually when tours were operated by the Sutton Hoo Society.
The trust has been taken aback by the visitor numbers and Richard Hill, project manager, said staff had been working incredibly hard to meet the demand.
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One of the main concerns expressed by villagers living near Sutton Hoo and councillors before the site opened was the traffic impact on the B1083 running past the site. They were worried cars would back up in the middle of the road while waiting to turn into the site.
Mr Hill said when the centre was temporarily closed motorists came into the drive and turned round and there was very little queuing on the road.
''That seemed to work reasonably well. We advised visitors to postpone their visit, go into Woodbridge, and come back and try later.
''It was frustrating if people have travelled far and could not get in but it would be just as frustrating if it was too busy. Our maximum is about 1,600 and we have probably exceeded that.'' said Mr Hill.
Officials are now advising future visitors to carefully plan their trip to Sutton Hoo and Mr Hill said: ''It is going to be busy over Easter. If you can postpone your visit to a bit later then we recommend that you do so.''
Visitors are advised to arrive early. It is open from 10am to 5pm throughout the four-day Easter weekend.
It is closed next Tuesday and then open again from Wednesday to Sunday.