Results from a visitor survey was published in 2007 by the Whitchurch Silk Mill. Two studies were used: a gift-aid study and an exit survey of visitors. The full survey results are HERE. A summary is below. A questionnaire based survey was done in 2011 – its results are HERE.

GIFT AID STUDY

Postal codes from Gift Aid forms and the seasons of the visits between August 2006 and September 2007 were studied. There were 13,808 paying visitors who came to visit the Mill during that period and 2,433 (18%) filled in gift-aid forms.

Visitors came from 41 different counties!

Top 10 counties where visitors who filled in gift-aid forms lived:

  • Hampshire 44%
  • Berkshire 11%
  • Surrey 8%
  • West Sussex 4%
  • Oxfordshire 3%
  • Kent 3%
  • Wiltshire 3%
  • London 2%
  • Essex 2%
  • Hertfordshire 2%

Detailed analysis led to these conclusions:

  • The benefits of promoting coach trips are clearly demonstrated
  • The on- going campaign to gain national and local press coverage together with the Mill’s leaflet distribution increases and reinforces awareness.

EXIT SURVEY

A survey of 26 questions were posed by volunteers on various days and times to people at the end of their visit to the Mill. Overall, just over 3% of the visitors were surveyed between August 2006 and July 2007. Some of the results are below.

Visitors stated that these were the ways they found out about the Mill:

  • Half said by leaflet and tourist information
  • A quarter saw the (now removed) brown tourist signs on the highway
  • A fifth came because of a recommendations by friends (assumed to mean the real kind not the Silk Mill Friends organisation)
  • Others reasons: because of their tour operator, a newspaper ad or an editorial (presumably in the Parish Magazine)

3 out of 5 people – over half – travelled up to an hour to get to the Mill. A fifth of the visitors had travelled for up to 2 hours; and another fifth for up to 3 hours!

Just 2 out of 100 people said their visit didn’t meet expectations – mainly because there were no silkworms!

The main reasons for visiting the Mill were:

  • to have a day out – 57%
  • to see historic machinery – 13%
  • to see weaving – 7%
  • to see the waterwheel – 5%
  • to visit the giftshop – 4%
  • to visit the tearoom – 4%
  • to visit an exhibition – 3%
  • other reasons included to have a picnic, to visit the garden and river, and to assist with a course of study

The age of visitors was mainly towards the older side but the survey notes that two coach parties surveyed skewed the results. Over 70% of the surveyed visitors were aged 55 or more.

The tearoom selection of goodies was rated good by just over half the visitors, and average by a quarter. Just 3% thought the choices were poor but nearly 17% thought the variety was excellent.

The shop was rated good or excellent by about 80% of the visitors. However, 10% thought the choice was poor; another 10% thought it just average.

There were a handful of people from international locations that visited the Mill: 10 came from New Zealand and Australia, 13 from the USA and 2 from Holland. There was 1 visitor each from South Africa, France and India.

Comments included:

  • Nice setting / Pleasant garden / Loved the ducks and fish
  • Expected more machines in operation
  • Shame about the tearoom
  • Would like to have seen silk worms and mulberry leaves
  • To see things done would be a good aid
  • Customer relations training required
  • Shame about the disability access
  • Disappointed power not from waterwheel
  • Wish it was sunny
  • Will be back again