Family’s story follows fine fleeces to fish farming and conservation at Kilnsey (From Craven Herald)
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Family’s story follows fine fleeces to fish farming and conservation at Kilnsey
8:00am Tuesday 26th February 2013 in News
When three alpacas and two angora goats make their home on Kilnsey estate later this year, their presence will symbolise a piece of family history brought full circle.
They are due to arrive this summer after the alpacas are walked 35 miles from Saltaire under the eye of their drover, Jamie Roberts.
The angora goats will be travelling more conventionally – in a vehicle – “because they don’t like walking,” says Jamie, whose father, Anthony, set up Kilnsey Park and Trout Farm 35 years ago.
The celebration will have resonance which echoes back many more years, to Victorian times when Jamie’s illustrious great-great grandfather Sir James Roberts ran Salts Mill.
He bought the business, with partners, when the family of the founder Sir Titus Salt went bust and Sir James – a Haworth born lad who rose to a Knighthood – took it on and made a fortune.
Like many self-made men of the time, he spread his wealth about and established Roberts Park in Saltaire, putting up a statue to Sir Titus Salt and perhaps more significantly still, supplied the cash to buy Haworth Parsonage in his home village in 1928. It is now the world Famous Bronte Parsonage Museum.
Much of Sir James’ success was thanks to the angora goats whose fine fleece he wove into top class fabric and they became an image on his coat of arms.
He was the turn-of-the-20th century equivalent of Lord Alan Sugar and Jamie is very proud of his ancestor whose fame even impressed one of the English language’s greatest poets, TS Eliot.
In his epic poem, The Wasteland, he refers to a character whose “arrogance sits like a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire”.
“We know that he was referring to Sir James because it was confirmed by Eliot’s widow. It seems he met Sir James when he made a visit to the bank where Eliot was working,” said Jamie.
It’s thanks to his great-great grandfather who bought the estate that Jamie and his wife Amy are now running Kilnsey fish farm.
The couple returned to the UK from St Helena where he was a director for the National Trust on the island.
They arrived home with their two children, Angus and Louis, to take on the park.
“The goats and the alpaca are bringing things full circle. They helped make Sir James very successful and I want to celebrate that,” said Jamie.
The three alpacas and two angora goats will add to the attraction of the estate which has already established a colony of red squirrel and is the site of a rare orchid on a conservation site.
“We’re planning to expand more in that direction. We use renewable energy and are completely carbon free and have two hydro turbines for the electricity and the fish ponds are supplied by the stream which was used by monks in the 1100s.
“We’re aiming to encourage more schools to come and learn about these things, explore our nature trail and experience the fantastic wildlife of the Dales,” Jamie explained.
He is already looking forward to the arrival of the Tour de France in 2014 which will pass the estate gateway.
He is planning a special party and barbecue on July 5 and 6.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to witness the world’s greatest cycle race in some of the world’s greatest scenery,” he said.
The fish lakes are open all year for anglers but the shop and café have been closed since January 7 and will reopen on March 15.