Award-winning Gloucestershire farm secures Barclays support to expand

Pictured: left to right Rosemary Barnes, John Barnes, Barclays Agricultural Relationship Director Brian O’Connor, Henry Barnes and Jo Barnes
Whalley Farm

Family owned and managed Whalley Farm, at Whittington, Cheltenham has invested £500,000 supported by Barclays’ agriculture to create, two new purpose built grain stores and weighbridge. Quadrupling the existing capacity to over 2,000 tonnes, the units will store wheat, barley and oilseed rape for the family business and neighbouring farms.

The Barnes purchased the 500-acre, Whalley Farm three years ago for £7.5 million after discovering the HS2 rail development was going to impact the existing farm in Lichfield, Staffordshire, destroying many of the existing outbuildings, the farm shop, the wedding venue and even the family home.

Rather than just take the money and retire, the family decided to continue the long family farming dynasty dating back to 1921 and reinvested into Whalley Farm, allowing son Henry Barnes to take the reins on this new agricultural adventure.

John Barnes said, “The HS2 development came as such a shock.  We had built a successful family arable farm over 20 years with farm shop and diversified into a successful wedding venue. It would have been very easy to just walk away but farming is in the blood and we wanted to ensure the legacy continued into future generations with my son Henry now taking the helm.”

Brian O’Connor, Barclays Agricultural Relationship Director, said, “This is a great example of someone using personal experience to overcome adversity and spot a business opportunity. Barclays’ research identifies the significant role “entrepreneurs” play in the rural economy and is committed to supporting such propositions.

A local broker introduced the client to Barclays Business Development Manager Scott Clacher after they struggled to obtain funding support from their former bank.

John Barnes added: “Investing into the business in the current financial climate was a major financial commitment but something we wanted to do. Converting this former dairy farm into a mixed arable farm has been challenging but we have already won the “Best Medium Farm in the North Cotswolds” from the Gloucestershire Root, Fruit and Grain Association (The Rural Oscars!), so we must be doing something right.

“It is still hugely rewarding producing food for the nation and this region seems to have a large concentration of young farmers, which is a great environment for my son to be part of and great news for the future of the industry. We already have further diversification plans under way supported by Barclays to open luxury holiday barns and hope to open before Christmas this year.”