AS a county rooted in agriculture – especially the southern half – it will come as no surprise hear that for many years Worcestershire was the base for one of the best farming schools in the UK.

It was next to Hindlip Hall, between Worcester and Droitwich, which since 1967 has been the headquarters of West Mercia Police, and was created out of a Victorian model farm next to the old country mansion. The police obviously not having much interest in ploughing the fields and scattering.

It was called Court Farm and was built in the early 1870s with an architecturally impressive dairy unit added in 1878.

After the Second World War, the idea that Worcestershire should have its own teaching farm began to gather a head of steam and in 1961 eventually reached the main agenda of the County Council. It was not, however, to plough a straight furrow. Blocking the way was a gentleman by the name of FL Rose, who was the finance committee chairman, the man with his hands on the council’s purse strings. Mr Rose thought it a very bad idea in view of the country’s “precarious financial situation” after the Second World War to spend money on projects like this.

However, the equally formidable Sir Hugh Chance, chairman of the education committee, thought it a great idea, especially since his committee had proposed it. The County Council already owned Court Farm and this would make an ideal location. Eventually Sir Hugh came out in top by five votes, so it was a close run thing.

However, Mr Rose did have a point when he feared the project would face financial problems and for much of its life money was indeed an issue. While the quality of tuition was among the best in the land, the same could not always be said for the surroundings.

This challenge was met by some innovative thinking. In the 1980s,  college head Rob Brighton astutely anticipated the surge in interest in organic foods and introduced organic farming courses at Hindlip in 1986. Then when Lower Smite farm was added to the College farm he converted its 150 acres to organic production and by 1989 the Hindlip operation had become the first national education centre for organic farming.

But eventually the financial pressures told and in May, 1997, Worcestershire College of Agriculture (as it had become known) closed down. The old (and some newer) buildings were vacated and students moved to other facilities at Pershore or father afield.