RAAC discovery at York Castle Museum cost almost £500k

The discovery of RAAC at York Castle Museum cost almost £500,000.

RAAC - which stands for reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete - is a lightweight, 'bubbly' form of concrete commonly used in construction between the 1950s and mid-1990s, according to the government's website.

Last year, RAAC was found in the roof that York Castle Museum installed in the late 1980s on the female prison and was consequently closed to the public from September 2023 to December 2023.

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“We have had a difficult year at York Castle Museum,” Kathryn Blacker, CEO of York Museums Trust, wrote in a report to the City of York Council’s culture scrutiny committee.

York Castle MuseumYork Castle Museum
York Castle Museum

“We had to drop our prices in this period and we had much lower visitor numbers which impacted our retail and catering on site.

“Whilst we were able to reopen with our full Christmas at York Castle Museum offer we were not able to market this fully because of the need to have completed the repairs and having reopened on December 8 we had already foregone the first three weeks of our planned Christmas season. "

The closure cots York Museums Trust around £400k and had to find more than £80k from its reseves to cover the unplanned remedial works.

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“Unfortunately, we have still not been able to reopen the upper half of the female prison because of the need to mitigate remaining RAAC issues," Ms Blacker wrote.

“We have quotes for the necessary works and are talking to City of York Council directors as to the extent of funding the City of York Council can provide for these repairs.

“Surveys have also highlighted the urgent need to replace or overhaul the roof covering of the female prison to protect the RAAC, the building and collections and the safety of our visitors and staff in the short term.

“Again, we have done the work to understand the cost of this work.”

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Visitor numbers at the York Castle Museum, the Yorkshire Museum and York Art Gallery are expected to drop from 2023 to 2024.

2022/23 actual 2023/24 forecasted
York Castle Museum 224,557 206,841
Yorkshire Museum 75,886 73,924
York Art Gallery 128,849 124,111
Total 429,272 404,876

On the financial implications of these issues, Ms Blacker wrote: “We remain loss-making given our reliance on visitor income and trading through our Enterprise subsidiary for 70 per cent of our funding.

“We had set a budget loss of £0.3m for 2023/24.

“Because of RAAC issues, we amended our outturn to a loss of £0.7m during the year.

“Because we have traded well when we’ve been able to open, the outturn is expected to be nearer a £0.4m loss.

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“This will leave us with reserves of £0.8m which is less than two months of our operating costs and is below our reserves policy of three months.

“We are currently preparing the 2024/25 budget which will at best project losses of around £0.25m which will further diminish our reserves position.

“We receive a £300k annual grant from CYC each year which was reduced from £600k in 2015/16 and from £1.1m in 2014/15.

“We have in place a Letter of Credit from CYC for £1m which is renewed annually.

“It has a current expiry date of March 2025 and is essential to trustees and auditors forming a going concern opinion on our financial statements each year.”

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