The visit to Bolesworth Estate - 22nd May 2023
Posted on Sat, Jun 10, 2023 2:32 PM
Leaving your county to have a look at somewhere else is refreshing and this year's first joint Members and Alumni Association visit was a gem. Both in terms of visiting the county of Cheshire and, in particularly, the Bolesworth Estate. Driving in to the property you immediately see there is a lot going on with the permanent show jumping ring and stand to your left. The extensive park land, parking area and internal roads clearly suggest this Estate is used to catering for large crowds for all manner of events.
Bolesworth has been in the Barbour family since 1856. Originally it was bought by Robert Barbour, a successful cotton trader whose business was based in Manchester. The present family member holding the reins is his three times great granddaughter Nina Barbour.
What soon becomes obvious is that this 6,500 acre, all dairy Estate, is run just a little bit differently than most. The underlying quality of past and present occupants has been 'vision', which may sometimes have been unorthodox but, and probably because, the partnerships this vision has created continue to be successful.
We visited Owler Hall Farm on the Estate and saw a dynamic dairy business milking 720 cows in modern buildings. Robin Langford and his two sons calve all year round to enable them to get the most use of the new parlour. They also make all of their own silage. Historically the Estate farmed in partnership with its farmers and as a result this tenancy, like all of those on the Estate, is in the form of an FBT with rents linked directly to the individual farm's milk returns.
A visit to another tenant was a real eye opener with Jonathan Fell giving us a tour of The Ice Cream Farm. Having started to make ice cream from their surplus milk following the introduction of milk quotas in the eighties the business has evolved into the biggest tourist attraction in the North West whilst continuing to supply their award winning ice cream to 1,000's of outlets all over the country. There has been significant investment since 2015 and covid has been a monumental challenge but visitor numbers are rising again. This business is another example of the Estate working closely with the Tenant with the long term very much in mind.
Tattenhall Marina was created next to the Shropshire Union Canal in anticipation of increased demand for boating tourism and demonstrates another visionary decision taken by the Barbour family to secure diverse income streams for the Estate.
A great day was rounded off with a cup of tea in a drawing room of the castle looking across the Cheshire countryside from the Castle's sandstone plinth.