Lincolnshire Shooting Estate for sale

The Irby estate in north Lincolnshire has its own partridges and a listed shooting lodge for the keen country gent
By: Sands Property Search & Relocation Agents
Sept. 26, 2009 - PRLog -- From the air, the Humber estuary looks very big and very busy. The industrial complexes that run along its south bank are home to several big companies, including Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Total and Novartis. Grimsby, the main town to the south, has a population of almost 100,000 people. But go even farther south, and the businesses give way to acres of cultivated countryside, 28,000 of which belong to the 45-year-old Earl of Yarborough, who succeeded to the title in 1991 when he was still in his twenties. The earl’s family have lived in north Lincolnshire for generations and enjoyed the shooting that they are able to do on their well-run estate.

But ownership of sporting estates is not confined to the aristocracy, not even in north Lincolnshire. With the industry in and around the Humber, and given its proximity to Doncaster, Sheffield and York, the area has spawned its fair share of successful businessmen who own sporting estates. One of Grimsby’s more famous sons is the Carphone Warehouse magnate David Ross, who owns the Nevill Holt estate and recently acquired the Rosedale and Westerdale grouse moors.

The Irby estate, 1,284 acres set in gently rolling countryside only four miles from Grimsby but well out of sight of the chimneys of the Humber, is home to Gareth Wilson. Like Yarborough, Wilson inherited young, but the will did not include this estate, which he bought in 2005. A computer science graduate, his first job was at the National Milk Records office in Harrogate. After a year in Yorkshire, he returned to Grimsby and joined the family business, M J Wilson, as a junior salesman. He had not been there long when his father died and Gareth took over. He has carefully developed the business from a solid local enterprise to a successful national one. It is one of the leading suppliers of instrumentation, valves, fastenings and metals in the UK, and Wilson remains very much in charge, the architect of its expansion, all of which, he is proud to point out, has been achieved through self-generated cash rather than borrowed money.

Why did he buy an estate? Wilson loves to shoot and “owning my own estate was always a dream”. It came true when he acquired Irby, once part of Yarborough’s empire but sold off in the 1940s to pay for inheritance taxes. The land had been let until recently to a local arable farmer and the rest is mainly grassland farmed in hand, while Wilson has started a herd of 37 pedigree Charolais cattle. But the shooting needed more attention. At the time of purchase, the sporting rights on the estate were split into two, with neither part having had much investment. Wilson changed all that, luring his chosen gamekeeper and working with him to develop a successful shoot that is mainly partridge with some pheasant.

The gamekeeper, Keith Jones, tells me when I turn up on a sunny day in September that, even by the end of the season, they are still shooting 60 per cent partridge. “Creating a challenging shoot in Lincolnshire is a greater achievement than doing the same in more hilly countryside,” Jones says, but he has clearly achieved it here, much helped by working for an owner who has been able to invest.

“There is something very special about shooting on your own land,” Wilson admits. “I used to buy days to entertain my friends, but it is so much nicer being able to invite them to stay [the main house has six bedrooms, and there are five other houses on the estate] and shoot with me here.” So why is he selling it? The business has become a national one, prompting him to leave the region, and he is keen to develop a larger sporting enterprise elsewhere in the UK. What of a newspaper report from 2008, when he first put the estate on the market, that he was poised to be a tax exile? It turns out that Jacky, Gareth’s partner (the couple also have a daughter), was not keen. “We went to look at Guernsey,” she says. “It was all right for a holiday, but not to live there.”

Wilson would certainly have struggled to create as successful a shoot in the Channel Islands as he has at Irby, where shooting takes place 17 days in the season. Mostly these are 300-bird days, with four big 500-bird days spread over the four months. Parts of the estate are quite surprising, with a valley that would not look out of place in a pheasant shoot in hillier parts of the UK. The listed former dovecote makes a splendid shooting lodge and its purpose-built table, made from oak from the estate, is included in the sale. Even the Charolais herd is going off to Newick market on October 3. “I have decided that I am not a farmer,” Wilson says.

I can see this estate, now restored to the shooting glory it enjoyed more than 100 years ago under an earlier Earl of Yarborough, appealing to another successful local businessman.

Equally, someone such as me, who spurned the train journey from London (although there are extensive rail and motorway links, as befits the home of the busiest port in the UK) and flew to Humberside International Airport in a light plane, could easily return at weekends or in the shooting season. Irby is an easy 15-minute drive from the airport and someone with access to a plane would find it very convenient.

A Guide Price of £7 million.

Source: The Times

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