Stonehenge tourists slam 'chaotic and farcical' new visitor centre amid claims new £27m venue is struggling to cope

Tourists are enduring long waits just to board a new ‘land train’ which ferries visitors to the historic site, and even Stonehenge staff have voiced concerns about the visitor centre

Visitors to the new £27million Stonehenge centre have described 'chaotic scenes' as they say the venue struggles to cope with the number of people attending.

Tourists endured long waits just to board the ‘land trains’ which ferry visitors to the historic site, and even Stonehenge staff have voiced concerns about the visitor centre.

Visitors have strongly criticised a host of logistical problems at the Wiltshire site’s new centre since it opened three weeks ago.

Ticketing and transportation from the centre to the stones and back have been particularly ‘chaotic’, according to tourist reviews posted on TripAdvisor.

Visitors have moaned about queueing for more than an hour to board a ‘land train’ - three carriages pulled by a Land Rover - which carries around 45 people at a time and takes ten minutes to travel the mile-and-a-half from the centre to Stonehenge.

With just two land trains operating, English Heritage has been forced to lay on extra regular coaches, hired from local bus companies, to deal with numbers.

Visitors labelling the system ‘a farce’ have questioned how the centre and its transport arrangements will cope when thousands visit a day during the busy summer months.

English Heritage has called for patience as it deals with what it describes as teething problems, but has also admitted there have been ‘some issues’ they are trying to solve.

Before the new centre opened, visitor ratings on the TripAdvisor website were consistently good for Stonehenge, even though the centre built in the 1960s was deemed 'a national disgrace' by senior politicians.

Around three-quarters of people posting reviews of their own experiences on the website rated it positively, with four or five stars, while only eight per cent gave it one or two stars.

But positive reviews have plummeted to just 46 per cent following the opening of the new centre, while negative reviews jumped to a third.

Even those giving Stonehenge a good overall score complaining of the chaos surrounding accessing the world famous stones.

One reviewer, ‘Paco G’, from Spain, said: 'There are two Land Rovers towing some wagons and some mini-buses that mysteriously are stopped half of the time.

'People were getting angry after one and a half hours of queuing.'

The new Stonehenge visitor centre cost £27m and opened three weeks ago. (SWNS)

The historic Wiltshire stones have received a huge influx of visitors since the new centre opened. (SWNS)
Others told English Heritage to ‘learn from Disney’ on how to manage crowds, while more slated the price rise for tickets from around £8 to £14.95 for an adult.

Staff and volunteers have also spoken of their frustrations at the new system. One volunteer, who declined to be named, said it was immediately obvious the centre would not be able to cope with the numbers of people visiting.

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He said: 'The problem is the transport, getting people to and from the stones.

'They have abandoned the idea of only using the Land Trains, we’ve got coaches now, which kind of defeats the object.

'Also, when it’s windy or raining, those in the ticket office can’t open the windows to serve people because the rain blows in, it’s been built facing the wrong direction.'
A group of tourists get their fill at the iconic Stonehenge site. (SWNS)
A map shows the location of the new Stonehenge centre relative to the site itself. (SWNS)
Kate Davies, Stonehenge’s general manager, played down the negative reviews of the new centre, and asked people to be patient.

She said: 'There has been huge interest in Stonehenge since the new visitor centre opened towards the end of December.

'On one day alone we welcomed 5,000 visitors which is along the same levels as during our peak summer season.

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'This is a brand-new operation, on a completely different scale to the old visitor centre, and naturally during these early days, there have been some issues.

'But we are solving them, we have increased our shuttle service taking people to the stones and from 1 February, our timed ticketing system will swing into place.

'The majority of feedback has been overwhelmingly positive; visitors have been fascinated by our new exhibition and love the sense that the stones are now reconnected with the wider landscape.

'We appreciate all the feedback we've received and we would ask people to be patient while we iron out the few remaining issues.'