Boost for historic tourist attraction Rufford Abbey Country Park

A PLACE IN LOCAL HISTORY -- the ruins of the well-preserved Rufford Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century.
A PLACE IN LOCAL HISTORY -- the ruins of the well-preserved Rufford Abbey, which dates back to the 12th century.

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the Mansfield area is set to be improved after its commercial operations were passed into the hands of a leisure provider.

Rufford Abbey Country Park, which is owned by Notts County Council, welcomes about 350,000 visitors every year and has an annual turnover close to £2 million. Now the council has named Parkwood Leisure as its commercial partner to help secure the future of Rufford and to protect and enhance the heritage of its historic abbey buildings and surrounding parkland.

“This is a significant and exciting time for Rufford,” said Coun John Knight, committee chairman for culture at the county council. “Thousands of people enjoy its unique combination of fascinating history and stunning countryside, which we want to preserve for future generations.

“Parkwood has a strong track record within the leisure industry of working with local communities to manage successful venues that promote the great outdoors.”

After the completion of contracts, Parkwood will start its new role early in the new year. The council, which has earmarked a capital contribution of up to £1 million towards boosting facilities, will continue to manage the overall park and grounds, while the abbey will stay under the guardianship of English Heritage. Admission will remain free.

Parkwood is one of the UK’s largest leisure providers and already manages several outdoor sites. Its operations director, Glen Hall, said: “We are delighted to be selected to manage the commercial operation at Rufford. We understand the importance of the park and look forward to delivering a fantastic range of new facilities and activities for both children and adults.”