A North East trust based at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hadrian’s Wall has secured its future and potential new historic discoveries across two Roman sites, thanks to support from Lloyds Bank.
Northumberland-based Vindolanda Charitable Trust was founded in 1970 to preserve and carry out archaeological research of the Vindolanda Fort – a site occupied by the Romans from approximately 85 AD to 370 AD.
A museum at the site sits beside a second Roman settlement, Magna Fort. The trust normally welcomes up to 30,000 visitors each month during the summer and 150,000 annually who come to explore the historical landmarks.
But when the UK government announced restrictions on non-essential travel due to the coronavirus outbreak, the trust was forced to close both sites and museum, causing an immediate drop in income generated from admission costs, leading to the furloughing of 37 of its 46 staff.
In 2019, the trust’s turnover was £1.5 million but it predicts it will generate just 30% of this amount this year.
Despite working hard to reduce overheads the trust needed financial support for the short term. It approached Lloyds Bank and secured a £300,000 business loan. By keeping the trust financially secure in the short term, it will be able to safeguard the future of the sites and museums.
Dr Andrew Birley, CEO and director of excavations at The Vindolanda Trust, said: “Our income relies on people visiting us, especially tourists from abroad. When the outbreak began and the travel ban was imposed, we knew our cash flow would be heavily impacted. This is normally our busiest time of the year but we’ve been forced to close our doors until it’s safe to reopen.
“We estimate that there’s several hundred years left until the sites are fully explored. Thanks to Lloyds Bank, we now know that we can continue our excavation work once the lockdown is lifted and welcome back visitors to learn about this important time in our history.
“Our core team is working hard to maintain our sites and map our pathway out of this challenging situation. With this additional funding, we have the peace of mind knowing that we now have the cash flow in place to cover overheads and begin operations again quickly when restrictions begin to ease.”
Paul Watson, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “The finance secured by the Vindolanda Trust will help to see it through the unprecedented challenges in the weeks and month ahead. The trust works to support a historical site of global importance and protecting sites like this is essential if we want to continue learning about our history.
“This is a great example of a business working through the crisis so it can continue its great work in the heritage sector that benefits the education of people far and wide.”