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Ref NoMS 1579/1/8
TitleChapmans Hill School Farm Ltd.
Date1933 - 2010
LevelSeries
DescriptionFor records of the linked Worgan Trust see MS 1579/1/7.
AccessStatusOpen
AdminHistoryChapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. was established in 1972 as a non-profit making company to administer Chapmans Hill School Farm. The Farm was owned by the Worgan Trust and operated as a joint venture with the City of Birmingham Education Department. The Farm is located approximately one mile northwest of Rubery abutting Waseley Hills Country Park and comprises seventy acres. The Company became a registered charity on 08 November 1972.

Paul Cadbury created the Worgan Trust in 1966 as a land owning charity for the purpose of protecting green belt land around the city of Birmingham and encouraging recreation and education in the countryside. Specifically, Paul wished to establish a working farm in a pleasant setting to allow urban school children the opportunity to experience rural life. According to Candia Compton, a long-serving Worgan Trustee, Paul's inspiration may have come from his granddaughter Helen Cadbury who had so enjoyed a trip with friends to his farm near Clent that he felt the experience should be available to all Birmingham children. Paul Topham, General Inspector of Birmingham Schools lent his enthusiastic support to the project, agreeing to provide a teacher and transport on behalf of the Education Department. Additionally the Department assumed utility and cleaning costs directly relating to onsite teaching facilities.

Paul referred to the Charity Commission to determine if the Worgan Trust was an appropriate legal entity to administer the farm. He was advised that a non-profit company would be preferable and Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. was formed: initially for a five-year period. Following discussions with Bournville Village Trust, where Paul served as trustee, a suitable property was located and sold to the Worgan Trust. The Trust was the only shareholder of the company and received rents from the Company. All capital for conversion and repairs on the property was provided by the Worgan Trust with any potential losses guaranteed by the Barrow Cadbury Fund Ltd.

Works on the property began in early 1972 and focused on the conversion of an existing brick barn to a classroom with cloakroom and lavatories and the expansion and refurbishment of pens and sheds to include viewing areas for school children. Total expenditure by the Worgan Trust for the purchase of land and renovation of the property amounted to £72,000. Tom Jones was appointed by the Worgan Trust to manage the farm and tasked with the purchase of various pieces of farm equipment. Alex Cork was assigned to the project by the Education Department as teacher and school visit coordinator. The two men immediately established an efficient working relationship that was essential to the success of the project.

The Farm opened in the autumn term of 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 milking parlour contained a viewing platform for children with the poultry sheds similarly accessible. The sights and particularly the smells of rural life proved a novel experience for most children. In addition to studies at the farm students would also be taken on a nature trail through nearby Waseley Hills Country Park.

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. As interest in the project grew more Birmingham schools expressed an interest in attending. In 1973 the catchment area of the Farm was expanded to include schools in Worcestershire County Council. By 1982 Chapmans Hill was fully booked two years in advance. The Farm even hosted a delegation of education officials from the French Ministry of Environment and Quality of Life. The officials were investigating the possibility of implementing a similar scheme for urban French schoolchildren.

Beyond its educational success, Chapmans Hill School Farm ran at a modest loss as a farm to the dissatisfaction of Paul Cadbury who did not wish the Company rely reliant on the moneyed Cadbury Trusts for support. However, Paul was keenly aware that losses were more than offset by the rising value of the land. At the beginning of 1975 the seventy acres of land were being used primarily for grass cultivation and two fields planted with oats and peas for silage. Livestock consisted of thirty pure bred Friesian milk cows, ten heifers, thirteen yearlings, eight calves, forty-two Border-Leicester ewes, three tame ewes, two Suffolk rams, twelve Welsh sows, one Large White boar, twelve Rhode Island Red hens with a cockerel and twelve Light Sussex hens with a cockerel. Sales of milk, cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry, eggs and cereals between October 1972 and October 1973 totalled £5,795.

In December 1978 Company Directors decided to enquire into the possibility of purchasing additional land abutting Chapmans Hill School Farm from the Bournville Village Trust for the purpose of creating a second working farm for younger children. An agreement with Bournville Village Trust was reached by 1980 transferring Money Lane Farm plus an additional eight acres of land to the Worgan Trust for £48,764. Work to convert the property for educational use began the same year and was completed in time for the autumn term. Total expenditure on the property and repairs amounted to £87,756 by December 1980.

Tom Jones was given the expanded remit of running both farms with the support of a farm hand. The Birmingham City Council Education Department was eager to support the expanded venture and appointed John Llewellyn to teach at Money Lane School Farm. Llewellyn and his family were installed in the improved farmhouse onsite. The logistical arrangements for Chapmans Hill were largely copied for Money Lane with school transport used to convey classes to the new farm.

Money Lane School Farm operated a half-day course for younger children. While instruction was similar to that carried out at Chapmans Hill School Farm, the subject matter provided a less graphic introduction to farm life. Children at Money Lane would carry out a mixture of classroom based and practical exercises with a focus on smaller animals including chickens and ducks.

The administration of Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. initially fell to its first two directors, Paul and Rachel Cadbury, with Paul serving as Company Secretary and Chairman. Panell, Fitzpatrick and Co. were appointed auditors. In 1973 the directorship was expanded to include their children Charles Lloyd Cadbury, Philippa Helen Southall, Catherine Rachel Hickinbotham and Edward Paul Cadbury. The new directors attended annual meetings of the Company but would best be described as silent partners, leaving the administration of the organisation to their father Paul. In addition to annual meetings of directors, Paul and Rachel held occasional informal meetings to consider pressing business. Additionally, a Farm Committee was established consisting of Paul Cadbury, Hugh Hughes, Stephen Langford and Tom Jones to deal with operational farm matters. It is unclear if all the minutes of this committee were formally recorded.

Paul Cadbury's death in 1984 led to the appointment of Philippa Southall as Chairman and Company Secretary and a greater involvement by the company's directors in the running of the organisation. Moreover, Cadbury Trusts' administrators Anthony Wilson and Eric Adams began to attend annual meetings regularly. In 1986 Candia H. Compton and Stephen R. Southall and Hugh Hughes were appointed as directors. That same year Charles Cadbury resigned his directorship.

The Worgan Trust and Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. were viewed by Anthony and Eric as peripheral to the grant making work being carried out by the moneyed Cadbury Trusts (Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust, Paul S. Cadbury Trust and Barrow Cadbury Fund Ltd.). Though their portfolios technically extended to the land owning trusts, only a modest amount of time was allocated to their administration. While Paul's death led to the greater integration of the Paul S. Cadbury Trust with the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust and the Fund, this was not to prove the case with the Worgan Trust and Chapmans Hill. As a practical matter, clerical support for these organisations was handled first by Paul's secretary from Cadburys, Carole Moreton, and later by Finance Secretary Pat Weaver who also acted as Company 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.

Throughout the 1980s the educational side of the Company carried on with great success at Chapmans Hill and Money Lane. Concurrently, the farming operation was incurring losses of approximately £25,000 to £30,000 per annum. These were made good through support from the Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury Trust. This situation was considered by Directors to be highly unsatisfactory. Overtures were duly made requesting that the Education Department assume a greater share of the increased operating costs, estimated at £3 per student with an annual attendance in the late 1980s of 10,000 students each year. No agreement was reached on the subject. In 1988 farm production was rationalised to focus on dairy cows.

In 1999 Philippa Southall stepped down as Chairman and Candia Compton was confirmed in the vacant post. The roll of directors had altered considerably since her appointment in 1986, with Rachel Cadbury departing and James Taylor, Margaret Salmon, Roger Hickinbotham and Julian Salmon joining. Directors faced a bleak prospect. The increasing cost of student visits, practical difficulties in running a small farm at a profit, maintenance expenses and the failure to come to a new funding agreement with the Education Department led to continued losses throughout the 1990s. Loathe to borrow against the value of their land in order to meet the Company's debts, Directors turned for additional support to the Barrow Cadbury Trust. While this was forthcoming, it was apparent that Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. was not financially sustainable.

A major reorganisation of the school farms was proposed in 2000 to let the properties as Farm Business Tenancies with the tenants providing support for a study centre onsite allowing educational work to continue, albeit at a reduced level. Directors agreed to the plan and the Farm Manager, Tom Jones, retired from his post that same year. In 2001 the Company ceased to trade and de-registered from VAT. The reorganisation, coupled with the proceeds from the sale of Clent Hall by the Worgan Trust, provided the Company with the financial stability required for it (and the Worgan Trust) to operate independent of the Barrow Cadbury 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. With the Company dormant as of 2001 Directors elected to not to hold annual meetings from 2006. This marked the operational end of the Company, though annual financial reports continued to be filed with Companies House until the Company was dissolved in 2011. Chapmans Hill School Farm remained in operation until 2011 when it was closed. The Worgan Trust currently (as of 2014) operates Mount Pleasant School Farm near Kings Norton as a joint venture with the Outdoor Learning Service of the Birmingham City Council carrying on the innovative work of Chapmans Hill School Farm Ltd. The long-term status of Mount Pleasant School Farm remains uncertain due to local government spending cuts. Between 1972 and 2014 over 400,000 school children attended Chapmans Hill and its allied school farms.
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