Bygones aiming for July 4 reopening to locals and day visitors

Bygones' Queen Victoria is not amused at the Covid-19 lockdown

Bygones' Queen Victoria is not amused at the Covid-19 lockdown - Credit: Archant

The popular Bygones attraction in Torquay is raring to go - in a responsible way - for the planned re-opening of the tourism and hospitality sector on July 4.

Alteratrions are made at Bygones

Alteratrions are made at Bygones - Credit: Archant

And owner Richard Cuming is determined that the pandemic won't stand in the way of a business going back decades in the Bay.

He says: 'Our family have run retail businesses for many generations over the last 150 years and have come through two world wars, past pandemics and the depression in the 1920s.

'Bygones has been build up over the past 30 years and plan to be here for another 30 years. We, like all the attractions in the Bay, need residents and day visitors to support us, especially this summer.'

He added: 'Having been closed for only a handful of days in over 30 years trading its been a very strange experience not being able to open since mid March.

Inside the modeified Bygones

Inside the modeified Bygones - Credit: Archant

'Hopefully, the Government will give attractions the green light to do so again in early July. While we have been closed we have taken the opportunity to get maintenance and display upgrades completed and plan future improvements.'

He said that when Bygones reopens, customers will see a number of temporary changes.

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'We have spent a lot of time creating a one-way system, removing and rearranging some of our displays and creating social distance zones throughout the whole building,' he says.

'The one-way system will mean customers do not go around in the usual way, first visiting the period rooms on the middle level before returning to the Victorian Street and shops before heading to the military displays on the top level.

'While most displays will remain viewable as usual, a few will remain roped off so social distancing can be maintained. Some exhibits have been rearranged in the street area to improve flow. Signage has also been added to make it clear and remind customers to maintain social distancing.

'Our regular visitors will spot the main change at the start where a wall has been added to make the one-way system work. We will be making this look like part of the street rather than just a barrier.

'Automatic hand sanitiser units have been installed at reception, the shop and around the building. Staff will have been trained and involved in enhancing cleaning protocols and issued with appropriate PPE.'

Mr Cuming said capacity will be reduced, adding: 'Customers won't need to prebook but if this capacity is reached we will be enforcing a one in, one out policy. We are aiming to retain our usual opening hours seven days a week to maximise the times customers can visit.

'The cafe will remain closed at least to start with but a limited amount of takeaway drinks and food will be available.'

He said thousands of pounds and many hours have been spent on the changes but he added: 'All these changes have been implemented to make visits Covid-19 secure but also maintain an enjoyable experience for our customers.

'Hopefully, 2021 will be very much nearer to normal and we can remove the temporary restrictions when this is over. We look forward to working with our fellow attractions, all the hospitality sector and our residents in the meantime and feel sure a visit to us here in 1897 will be one you will want to do more than once.'