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Ref NoMS 1579/1/7
TitleWorgan Trust
Date1937 - 2006
LevelSeries
DescriptionFor records of the related charity, Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. see MS 1579/1/8.
AccessStatusPartially closed (Content)
AdminHistoryThe Worgan Trust was established on 28 December 1966 to take over any land or property that was previously owned by the Paul S. Cadbury Trust. The new Trust formed a practical extension of Paul Cadbury's longstanding interest in town and country planning, particularly his desire to protect green belt land around the city of Birmingham and to promote rural recreation and education. Unlike the 'moneyed' Cadbury Trusts, the Worgan Trust did not have an endowment and relied instead on the other trusts (initially the Paul S. Cadbury Trust and later the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust) for financial support. The Trust became a registered charity on 13 April 1967 and currently operates (as of 2014) independently from the Cadbury Trusts.

Paul's concern about the encroachment of urban development into rural areas predated the formation of the Worgan Trust. In 1938 he joined with Helen Wilson and John Cadbury to purchase Walton Farm and surrounding land in the Clent Hills to ensure its preservation. Helen, Paul's sister in law, also owned nearby Clent Hall in Worcestershire. For ease of administration this property was conveyed to a newly formed entity called the Worgan Company. It is believed that the name Worgan had some longstanding association with the Clent Hills and inspired the choice of name. Reference to Upper and Lower Worgen appear in John Noakes' 'Guide to Worcestershire' published in 1868. In 1942 the nearby property at Moorhall Farm was purchased and added to the Worgan Company's holdings. Property was also acquired at Coopers Mill in the Wyre Forest.

Beyond an interest in town and country planning, Paul was also a farming enthusiast and he was tenant of many Worgan Company properties. Paul enjoyed managing Walton Farm and other concerns in partnership with Bailiff Hugh Hughes who acted as farm manager. Walton Farm had been built into an efficient business during the Second World War by Paul's son in law, Stephen R. Southall. Despite his passion for farming, Paul's many official and unofficial duties confined agriculture to a weekend pursuit.

By the early 1960s Paul wished to formally extend the scope of Cadbury Trusts' activities to include the purchase of land in the countryside for the use of young people and communities. In 1961 all Worgan Company shares were transferred to the Paul S. Cadbury Trust. However, it was unclear if owning land contravened the specific powers granted to the Paul S. Cadbury Trust or the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust by their founding deeds. To overcome this legal uncertainty Paul was advised to establish a new explicitly land owning trust and to convey the former Worgan Company properties to that entity. Paul initially considered the name Walton Trust for the new organisation but felt this was too geographically specific. Instead, he retained the Worgan title and the Worgan Trust was duly established in 1966.

Beyond resolving the legal question of land ownership, the creation of the Worgan Trust allowed Paul to transfer former Worgan Company property assets to his children Catherine Hickinbotham, Philippa Southall, Edward Cadbury and Charles Cadbury as Worgan Trustees. Paul and Rachel Cadbury also served as Trustees, with Paul additionally serving as Administrator. He soon resigned his trusteeship for legal reasons, while retaining his key administrative duties. In 1968 Kenneth Nicholson was appointed as the first administrative secretary of the Cadbury Trusts. He was succeeded in this post by Anthony Wilson who was later joined by Eric Adams. Though the recruitment of professional administrators markedly increased the grant making capability of the Cadbury Trusts, their involvement in the Worgan Trust was largely peripheral. Similarly, while Worgan Trustees attended annual meetings, the daily running of the Trust was very much in Paul's hands and would remain so until his death in 1984.

It appears that during its first year of operation the Worgan Trust may have been involved in small scale grant making, though the extent and substance of this work remain unclear. Later, in 1974 the Worgan Trust approved a grant of £500 to install a steam engine then housed in the Birmingham Science Museum at Sarehole Mill, a site of historical interest both for its connections to Matthew Boulton and J.R.R. Tolkien. This grant was subsequently transferred to the Paul S. Cadbury Trust and appears to be an aberration. This exception notwithstanding, the Worgan Trust did not function as a grant making organisation.

One of the first aims of the new Trust was to purchase land at Waseley and Windmill Hills for use as a country park. In 1969 the Worgan Trust purchased one-hundred acres of land encompassing Windmill and Waseley Hills situated between the Lickey and Clent Hills near Rubery for £19,446. Financial support for this acquisition was provided by the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust. This land was in turn offered to the Birmingham City Council and/or the Worcestershire County Council on the agreement that it be converted to a public park. Officials from Worcestershire agreed to the terms of the offer and the property was duly sold for development as parkland. The new Waseley Hills Country Park opened in 1971 and continues to be operated by Worcestershire County Council.

Paul Cadbury was an early proponent of utilising greenbelt land for educational purposes. He was concerned that children raised in an urban environment had very little exposure to rural life or awareness of agriculture. To combat this disparity Paul proposed to acquire and operate a demonstration farm for schoolchildren in collaboration with education officials. Paul Topham, the General Inspector of Birmingham Schools, heartily approved of the idea and agreed to lend his support to the project. Meanwhile Paul Cadbury located a suitable plot of land abutting Waseley Hills Country Park and purchased it through the Worgan Trust.

The property at Chapmans Hill Farm was extensively refurbished in order to be ready in time for the 1972 autumn term. A brick barn was repurposed as a classroom and viewing platforms and panels were installed in the sheds and pens. A non-profit company and registered charity, Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. was created to manage the farm while the Worgan Trust retained ownership of the land. The Trust was the sole shareholder in Chapmans Hill and received rents from the Company. Worgan Trustees joined the new company as Directors with Paul serving as Chair and Company Secretary.

Tom Jones was appointed Farm Manager and was responsible for the daily running of the farm. The Birmingham City Council Education Department appointed Alex Cork as the fulltime teacher and visitor coordinator. Cork's salary, logistical arrangements and the costs of maintaining classroom facilities were met by the Council. Other farm expenses were the responsibility of the Company.

The Farm opened its doors in autumn 1972. Class visits were held daily and usually consisted of thirty five primary school children accompanied by their teacher. Top form primary school classes consisting primarily of ten years olds accounted for the majority of visitors though children as young as six were considered amenable to the curriculum. Courses of instruction lasted for one school day and were divided between classwork and practical experience on the farm including feeding sheep and preparing powdered milk for calves. The Chapmans Hill School Farm project proved a marked success. After one year of operation the Company recorded a total of 5,570 visiting schoolchildren accompanied by 417 teachers and other staff from 180 different schools, primarily in Birmingham. In 1980 a second demonstration farm was opened nearby at Money Lane to accommodate younger schoolchildren. By the 1980s annual attendance numbered ten thousand students, with bookings taken up to two years in advance.

The educational success of the project was not mirrored in financial terms. On a good year the farms operated at a modest profit, though annual losses were more common. These losses increased during the 1980s but were made good by donations from the moneyed Cadbury Trusts. By the late 1990s it was clear to Trustees/Directors that the farms were not financially sustainable and that a reorganisation of the operation was unavoidable. In 2000 the farms were put up for rent as Farm Business Tenancies on the agreement that tenants should continue to offer support to visiting school groups. The Company went dormant in 2001 and formally wound up its activities in 2011.

Improvements on other Worgan Trust properties continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Paul Cadbury and Hugh Hughes were granted an extended lease to manage Walton Farm as tenants of the Trust, with farm staff employed by the partners to carry out daily work. In 1977 Edward Cadbury proposed to donate a piece of land in the Wyre Forest to the Worgan Trust in exchange for a long-term lease to manage the woods. The Trust approved this proposal and the forest land was added to its holdings.

Trust property at Coopers Mill in the Wyre Forest near Bewdley was used for school visits and public recreation under the supervision of a warden. Although the watermill was considered unsafe and demolished in 1967, the Trust allocated substantial funds to refurbish the mill building adding kitchen, dining and toilet facilities. From 1979 the mill was in regular use with forty-nine weekend bookings and twenty-one mid-week bookings. Despite regular use, the Mill generated only modest financial returns.

The Coopers Mill Youth Centre and surrounding property in the Wyre Forest on the Shropshire/Worcestershire border are currently used for public recreational activities, originally focusing on weekend trips for parties of children including the 1st Kidderminster Company of the Boys Brigade. In 2011 major refurbishments were carried out at Coopers Mill with the joint support of Natural England and Heritage Lottery. Works were completed by spring 2012. The property and surrounding woodlands in the Wyre Forest are let to Natural England with the Birmingham City Council Outdoor Learning Service in turn running Coopers Mill. Budget cuts to the Outdoor Learning Service in 2014 have placed the future operation of the mill in question.

Though established in 1966 the first meetings of the Worgan Trust did not occur until 1968. From that date onwards an annual meeting was held each year and attended by all Trustees, Paul Cadbury as Administrator and Anthony Wilson as Cadbury Trusts' Secretary. Impromptu meetings were held as needed to address any urgent matters. The frequency of meetings and extent of business discussed increased after Paul died in 1984. Minutes usually address very practical issues of property management including repairs, rents and land use regulations. Most early Trust meetings were held at Paul and Rachel's home in Harborne. Other locations include Moorhall Farm in Clent and the Cadbury Trusts' offices at College Walk, Birmingham. Meetings of Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. Directors were often held on the same day as Worgan Trust meetings for the sake of convenience.

The management of the Worgan Trust underwent a significant transformation following Paul Cadbury's death in 1984. At that time the Chairmanship of the Trust (and Company) was split from that of the other Cadbury Trusts with Philippa Southall taking responsibility for the Worgan Trust and Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. and Catherine Hickinbotham assuming control of the moneyed trusts. This decision reflected the need for specialist knowledge of agriculture and rural property. Changes in the trusteeship followed in 1985 with the appointment of Stephen R. Southall, Candia H. Compton and Roger P. Hickinbotham as Trustees/Directors and the resignation of Rachel Cadbury. In 1986 W. James B. Taylor was appointed trustee the same year that Charles Cadbury stepped down.

Administrative support to the Worgan Trust during this period was provided by Carole Moreton as part-time Office Secretary and Pat Weaver as Finance Secretary. These individuals were the primary channels between the Trustees and Directors of the land owning trusts and the Cadbury Trusts' offices at College Walk, Birmingham. Though Anthony Wilson and Eric Adams were aware of developments at the Worgan Trust the majority of their energies were devoted to the grant making activities of the moneyed trusts.

The 1990s proved a difficult period for the Worgan Trust due to sustained and significant losses at Chapmans Hill School Farm. Trustees were forced to consider selling the Trusts' assets to meet the debt but were understandably wary of such a move. Fortunately a series of major grants from the Barrow Cadbury Trust provided a degree of security allowing Trustees to consider their options. The reorganisation of the Chapmans Hill School Farm operation in 2000 and the sale of Clent Hall to a longstanding tenant combined to stabilise the finances of the Trust.

In 2003 the Barrow Cadbury Trust moved its offices to London and a formal break between the organisations occurred with the retirement of Birmingham staff, including Pat Weaver, who continued her employment with the Worgan Trust and Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. The roll of Barrow Cadbury Trustees/Directors and Worgan Trustees continued to overlap for some years after.

In 2009 the Worgan Trust completed refurbishment and conversion work on Mount Pleasant School Farm near Kings Norton. This property was leased from the Bournville Village Trust. That same year the classroom at Money Lane School Farm was vacated with younger children visiting Chapmans Hill Farm and older primary school children visiting the new Mount Pleasant facility. The Council continued to provide teaching staff for the demonstration farms under the aegis of the Outdoor Learning Service. In 2011 Chapmans Hill closed due in part to the increased cost of transportation and venue hire for schools. Mount Pleasant School Farm continues to operate as of 2014 though local government spending cuts raise questions as to its long-term sustainability. In 2014 Mount Pleasant School Farm was registered as a charitable incorporated organisation. Between 1972 and 2014 over 400,000 school children attended Chapmans Hill and its allied school farms.

Other farms and woodlands owned by the Worgan Trust are managed for income generating purposes, including rents, to support other Trust activities.
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