‘A bit of a ghost town’ - Yarmouth racecourse director on life without crowds
PUBLISHED: 15:46 10 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:46 10 September 2020
On Ladies Day at Great Yarmouth racecourse the tills would normally be ringing into the night.
The event was originally scheduled for next Thursday (September 17) at the venue on Jellicoe Road - but like most other large gatherings has been cancelled.
Glenn Tubby, director of the racecourse, said: “That crowd is the highest spend per head of the year. It’s a great night for the bar and the restaurant.”
Horses will still race on the day, with competition having resumed in June behind closed doors.
“But without the public, without the atmosphere, it just feels a little bit sterile,” Mr Tubby said.
“It’s a bit of a ghost town.”
The biggest crowd over the year would normally be 7,000 - that would happen on the August Bank Holiday weekend - while the lowest would be 1,500, the venue getting an average of 2,500 visitors a day.
“It’s a substantial amount of money we’ve lost this year,” Mr Tubby said.
Not only has the racecourse lost income from spectators but also from cancelled events including weddings, school proms and conferences.
Like most other businesses, Mr Tubby has had to furlough staff, with four permanent workers still on furlough.
All the casual employees, the people who worked on race days, have been laid off.
“We don’t know when we’ll be able to employ casual staff again,” he said.
Mr Tubby, 53, started working at the racecourse as accountant in 2003 and took over as director in 2005
“I’ve long had an interest in racing, the first time I went was in my early 20s,” he said.
The season runs until late October - and then Mr Tubby, and the others at the racecourse, will have to wait for the government’s advice on whether or not they can reopen to the public next April.
“Right up until the beginning of March, we were still talking about plans for the year, and booking people in,” the director said.
“It was probably around the twentieth of March things started to feel very negative and then everything changed overnight.
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“Hopefully the public will come back at some point but that is unlikely this season.
We’ll have to look ahead to next April,” he said.
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