Friday 2 February 2018

Blue plaque honours Brackenhurst building’s role during First World War

Brackenhurst Hall

A blue plaque has been unveiled at NTU’s Brackenhurst Hall, to commemorate the centenary of its use as a First World War auxiliary hospital for wounded servicemen.

The plaque was unveiled on 1 February by Professor John Hannay, the great-grandson of Sir William Hicking, who was owner of the hall at the time, and the event was attended by staff, students, local community group leaders and council representatives.

Originally built as a family home in 1828 by Reverend Thomas Coats Cane, Brackenhurst was the birthplace of Field Marshall Viscount Allenby, a General of WW1 and grandson of Reverend Thomas.

In 1888 the site was sold to and farmed by George Savile Foljambe – who had two sons involved in the First World War – before being bought by William Hicking in 1899.

Hicking was the son of Nottingham’s Midland Railway Station Master and by the time he purchased Brackenhurst, the family were successful wine merchants.

He also had business interests in lace manufacturing and built a lace bleaching and finishing factory opposite Nottingham Railway Station.

Hicking invested a great deal in Brackenhurst, significantly extending the estate and buildings, purchasing land and creating the gardens still preserved today.

He allowed Brackenhurst Hall – as well as Burgage Manor, another of his houses – to be used during the First World War by the military as an auxiliary hospital, with facilities for servicemen recovering from injury.

Following the Second World War, the country was short of food and skilled farm workers. Brackenhurst – an established farm with its large hall – was an ideal location for training and was bought by Nottinghamshire County Council. This led to the creation of the Nottinghamshire Farm Institute in 1949.

Alterations were made to the hall to accommodate the 34 trainees – 18 ex-servicemen and 16 local men from Nottinghamshire.

Part of NTU since 1999, the number of students studying at the campus is now over 1,400 with many thousands more having passed through its doors.

Professor Robert Mortimer, the Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, said: "An important part of both the university’s 175th anniversary year and the redevelopment of our Brackenhurst Campus is to celebrate our heritage. This plaque marking use of the Main Hall during the First World War is a great example of that heritage."

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