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The Buchanan Trust a brief history

Robert Buchanan of Bosbury House, the son of a Glaswegian fish hook manufacturer, was a wealthy flour miller from Birkenhead, who made his money implementing a new milling process which he came across during a trip to the USA, whilst recovering from Typhoid.

The Buchanan Trust was set up in memory of Robert’s eldest son Alan who fell at the 1st Battle of Bellewaarde (Battle of Hooge) just outside Ypres on 16th June 1915, at the age of 25.

Alan was a machine gunner in the 1/10th Kings (Liverpool), a regiment that had been co-founded by his Father and Colonel Forbes in 1900. Alan’s brother Robin (Rab) also served later in the Great War when old enough.

The Sailors & Soldiers (Gift for Land Settlement) act of 1916 was passed and allowed the Board of Agriculture & Fisheries to accept Robert’s generous gift to the nation.

It was not until 24th September 1918 that the trust deed was finally signed and The Buchanan Trust was formed.  Initially 288 acres of The Bosbury Estate were transferred to the management of the Board. This initial transfer comprised Orchard Farm, North Farm, Nash End Farm and some smallholdings and woodland. An additional 500 acres were conveyed in July 1919, comprising Lower House Farm, Green Farm, Hill House Farm, more of Nash End Farm and a number of cottages along with some small pieces of land.

The estate was to be divided into smallholdings and let to ex-officers who had served in the Great War. The estate had to be surveyed, new roads laid out and water supplies provided before any building work could begin. By the spring of 1921 work had been completed, and the estate consisted of 14 holdings, 21 cottages and 102 acres of woodlands.

Following the 1967 outbreak of foot and mouth disease, when most of the tenants lost their stock, a great deal of reorganization took place. A new Charity Commission Scheme was approved, appointing Herefordshire County Council as the new Trustee, with power to administer the charity. In 1974, the Trust became part of the Hereford & Worcester CC amalgamation, and in 1998 the creation of Herefordshire District Council saw control handed back.

On the recommendations of the Charity Commission, Herefordshire District Council advertised for new “independent” Trustees in December 2014 and they were appointed in March 2015. The new Trustees finally took control in June 2016. The new board of Trustees comprise a charity advisor, an ex military person/farmer, a land agent and two direct descendants of the original benefactor.

The new trustees have started to implement changes in line with the Charity Commission’s recommendations to substantially increase the number of ex-military beneficiaries. The plans are to provide about 30 almshouses on the estate, many of them being converted farmhouses, cottages and redundant agricultural buildings. Pre-constructed modular housing units are also under consideration. Three farms have now been brought back in hand along with the appointment of the estate’s first Farm Manager and Assistant and the 300 acres will now be farmed commercially. This will help fund future and upcoming projects on the estate and provide employment for veterans. When current tenants retire, further acreage will become available for consolidation into the single holding over the next few years.