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Review of achievements (2016 - 2021)

The publication of the previous Corporate Plan coincided with the launch of Command of the Oceans, a ground-breaking preservation and learning project that has exceeded all expectations and has formed the foundation for delivery against a wide range of objectives set out in the previous plan.  It has also been the catalyst for receiving external recognition from our peers and industry.

Since then and very significantly, we have delivered our Fitted Rigging House project ahead of schedule. This has unlocked  the financial sustainability of the charity on a revenue level at our current operating capacity – enabling us, as an organisation, to look forward to the future on a more sustainable revenue foundation.

Recognising achievement against all of these goals and not wishing to be an organisation that stands-still, we have brought the development of our next Corporate Plan forward by one year to align with the Trust’s vision for the future and to support enhanced delivery against our charitable objectives.

Our previous Corporate Plan objectives have achieved the following:

Preservation

Preservation through balanced and appropriate re-use leading to a sustainable future:

  • The Trust has maintained and grown the use of the estate’s heritage assets, now generating £2.6m in sustainable ‘rental’ income per annum that is in balance with other uses across the site.
  • The Fitted Rigging House has now been brought into productive re-use, generating c.£350k income per annum. This seeks to close the Trust’s annual funding gap whilst also improving the visitor experience to our 19th & 20th Century galleries; our revised library and reading room; and enhancing our volunteer work and rest facilities.
  • A traffic management and car parking strategy has been implemented to great effect in-line with the improvements above to ensure a safe, pedestrian friendly environment that supports the mixed-use of the site.
  • Following an increase in annual income, the Trust’s Management and Maintenance Plan has been reviewed with new resources now available to ensure that appropriate charitable expenditure is assigned to the maintenance of our important heritage assets.

Education

Development of our education reach by creating excellent, engaging and informative visitor experiences, appropriate partnerships and communications programmes that are relevant to 21st Century audiences:

  • The Trust now welcomes up to 190,000 visitors per annum to the most complete dockyard of the age of sail in the world.
  • 12,000+ formal school visitors per annum.
  • Standards of our visitor experience have been raised – achieving 2 Visit England Gold Awards in 2017 & 2018 and 7 TripAdvisor Certificates of Excellence
  • Mobile Dockyard outreach programmes have now worked with over 10,000 people – taking the Historic Dockyard to some of the most hard to reach communities in the area.
  • Our digital engagement strategy is now underway and over 600 objects have been digitised and are available on our website. Crucially, this forms the foundation for future digital engagement work – going beyond collections digitisation.

Relationships

Further development of relationships with stakeholders and funders that subscribe to our long-term vision:

  • The Trust has raised its profile on a national scale through internationally significant events such as the Battle of Medway and Festival 400 celebrations – both of which have considerably enhanced Medway Council’s wider strategy of putting Medway on the map.
  • Recognition for the Trust’s work has been achieved through numerous awards given over the past 4 years including the Historic England Angel Award for Best Large Preservation project and being shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2017.
  • Relationships have been strengthened with key stakeholders and funders through the delivery of the Fitted Rigging House project.
  • Our Economic Impact to the wider Medway area has now increased to over £29m per annum.
  • Active engagement with both Medway Council and the University of Kent (both key stakeholders) has led to the creation of a “Creative Hub” within Medway that will continue into the future.
  • The Trust has maintained its Accredited Museum Status and has now become an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, leading a consortium of Kent museums to recognise best practice in visitor experience and education in the region.

People

Investing in our people:

  • Staff retention remains very high and we have actively invested in ongoing staff development programmes, including succession planning for key roles within the organisation. We have invested in new roles over the past 5 years to ensure new skills continue to be added to our highly experienced team.
  • Encouraging diversity is at the heart of everything we do and we are proud to have a diverse workforce made up of over 150 staff and over 300 volunteers.
  • Recognising that the well-being of an organisation’s staff team is of critical importance, a number of initiatives have been developed that focus on mental and physical health to improve staff welfare.
  • Investing in professional staff development from leadership to operational and many role specific activities.

Entrepreneurial

Being an entrepreneurial charity:

  • We define entrepreneurship as the ability to identify and assess opportunities, adopting and developing the best where these opportunities provide a financial or charitable return. This culture is embedded throughout our organisation and has led to the creation of a strategy of “1,000 small improvements that collectively make a big impact” – outlined further in this plan.
  • The Trust continues to be a financially astute charity – an approach that has seen the organisation overcome huge challenges to become financially self-sustaining on a revenue level in the past 35 years.
  • A commercial approach to the management of operations within the Ropery continues to support the inherent costs of maintaining and operating a Victorian Factory space for the enjoyment and education of all our visitors.
  • Catering and Retail returns following the completion of Command of the Oceans, which included significant improvements to retail and catering outlets, have now increased by 27% over a three-year period, supporting the development of enhanced customer service and wider charitable development.
  • The site continues to be a major film location contributing significant income through locations fees and a partnership with Neal Street Productions (Call the Midwife) has seen the launch of the official Call the Midwife Location Tour, securing an additional £105,400 income per annum.