On Monday 4th September 2017, the Duchy of Lancaster started work on an extensive programme of repair and conservation works at Lancaster Castle. Scheduled for completion in June 2019, the works will open up the former prison kitchen yard and reveal a number of historic buildings currently hidden from view, including the King’s Evidence Tower, Male Felons Tower and former prison hospital building.
The Duchy has made significant progress in the restoration of Lancaster Castle since its return to Duchy ownership at the end of 2011. The initial phase of works focused on repairs and remedial works to the roofs, windows and stonework of the historic buildings facing onto the Castle courtyard. Other improvements completed this year include the transformation of the first floor of the Victorian debtors’ workshops into a new permanent Duchy office and the restoration of the Victorian clock-tower and bell. A new ‘Duchy Room’ has been opened up at the base of the clock-tower where visitors can view a standing exhibition exploring the historic links between the Castle and the Duchy over the last 750 years.
This next phase of development includes the removal and relocation of the existing Visitors Centre. As a result, the Ticket Office and Shop will be moved to the ground floor of A-Wing and the existing café will be closed while a new purpose-built catering and hospitality suite is constructed in the former ‘link block’ and along the rear exterior walls of the Castle.
Commenting on the plans, Graeme Chalk, Head of Project Management for the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “Our primary focus is on continuing to ensure that the Castle buildings are weather-proof and watertight. We are also committed to revealing and restoring as much of the Castle as possible and bringing these historic building back into use wherever possible. This next phase of development will do just that, creating a large new public open space, uncovering a series of arched colonnades along the front of the Victorian debtors’ workshops and establishing a state-of-the-art teaching and conference facility on site.”
A Duchy tenant on the Salwick Estate in Lancashire is establishing a reputation as a centre of excellence for all things equestrian. Forrest Sport Horses offers horse breeding, schooling, veterinary support and livery packages to a wide range of clients across the North of England.
After moving into Pepper Hill Farm just north of Preston in 2014, co-owners Georgina Cook and Rebecca Melling immediately began transforming the holding, creating purpose-built stable blocks, tack rooms, a full range of show and hunter jumps, summer and winter arenas and adjoining fields. CCTV cameras throughout the yard provide the highest levels of security and the team are now installing a hot shower room and heat lamps which will be operational from September 2017.
To celebrate their achievements to date, Georgina and Rebecca are holding an Open Day for invited guests on 2nd September and inviting those present to tour the facilities for themselves.
“We have worked really hard to create a centre here which is second to none,” said Georgina. “Quality has been our watchword. Our horses come from only the best breeding lines, our facilities are brand new and purpose-built and our staff are trained to the highest professional standards. This is a beautiful yard in a lovely part of the country – our horses (and their owners) deserve only the very best and that’s what we try to give them.”
Rebecca Melling has been involved in horse breeding from an early age and by her mid-teens was both competing and handling top stallions at some of the UK’s leading professional stud yards. She has experience in breaking, schooling and training young horses for every discipline. Georgina Cook combines a personal passion for horses with extensive commercial experience and business success. They have been in partnership together for 17 years, after co-founding Forrest Sport Horses in 2000.
Forrest Sport Horses is located at Pepper Hill Farm, Roseacre Lane on the Duchy’s Salwick Estate near Preston. The farm has been part of the Duchy since 1945.
One of the Duchy’s newest commercial tenants Tetronics has begun construction of a £27m green energy plant due for completion in 2018.
Based at Marston Gate Industrial Estate in Swindon, the project has received Government backing and significant funding from the Department of Transport and energy regulator Ofgem. It is part of a national drive to reduce vehicular emissions and provide cleaner, kinder biofuels for a variety of commercial uses.
Once fully commissioned the new Swindon plant will convert 10,000 tonnes of local landfill waste into 22GWh of clean, green energy (BioSNG). This will produce sufficient biofuel to power 40 distribution vehicles, cutting a commercial fleet’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent.
Commenting on the progress to date, Duchy Head of Urban Mike Andrews said: “The Duchy of Lancaster supports the use of sustainable green energy, particularly where it can be used to lessen the damage to the environment caused by over-reliance on landfill. We are delighted that the consortium has chosen to build the plant here at Marston Gate and we are following the progress of the project with interest.”
Led by a consortium of partners including Tetronics subsidiary Advanced Plasma Power (APP) the new plant is intended to demonstrate the potential of clean green gases as a replacement for traditional environmentally harmful energy sources.
The Duchy of Lancaster acquired Marston Gate Industrial Estate in September 2016 when it purchased the ‘Gravity’ portfolio – comprising various commercial and industrial buildings in the South of England.
The Duchy of Lancaster is strengthening the management of its rural estates, bringing the Cheshire and Staffordshire Surveys together and combining its Lancashire and Yorkshire Surveys. A single lead surveyor will take on the role of Managing Director for the Surveys working with the Head of Rural and members of the Duchy’s senior management team.
Paul Hutchinson of Savills will take over responsibility for Cheshire and Staffordshire, while the management of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Surveys will be led by an in-house team based at the Duchy’s new offices at Lancaster Castle. The latter will form part of a new Northern office for the Duchy which will include support staff and an expanded senior presence in Lancaster.
Commenting on the new structure, Duchy CEO Nathan Thompson said: “It makes sense for us to consolidate the day-to-day management of our Surveys. The two leads will be responsible for maintaining our relationships with our tenants and delivering our repair, maintenance and refurbishment programmes. We also have a number of development opportunities and environmental initiatives that we will be bringing forward in the next few years and it is important that we continue to maintain a common standard of excellence across the estates.
“As the managing agent for the Duchy’s Cheshire and Yorkshire Surveys, Paul Hutchinson is already familiar with our tenants and has a sound grasp of our plans for the future. The opening of our new office suite at Lancaster Castle gives us the opportunity to build a new in-house team based in the North who can take responsibility for the Duchy estates in Lancashire and Yorkshire. This will complement the work of the team based at our headquarters in London, while providing our tenants with regular face-to-face contact and support.”
The new organisational arrangements start with immediate effect and the Duchy is currently recruiting for an office administrator, rural accountant and assistant rural surveyor. The new Northern office is expected to be fully staffed and operational by 1st November 2017.