MANY of the subjects of this column have been able to trace their Dales roots back for several generations, some of them for a century or two.

But none could ever claim to be the 31st generation of a family which has lived in the same parish going on for 1,000 years.

And, whilst we are on the subject of the remorseless march of time, it has taken me eight years to get the following interview.

This is partly because Roger Tempest is not over-keen on personal publicity but mainly because getting him to sit still for half an hour is nigh-on impossible.

The only reason he agreed to do so in this case was in order to attract publicity for his latest campaign to inject even more get-up-and-go into Yorkshire rural life, a way of life that has been going through some pretty rough times these past few years.

The Tempest family name first crops up in the parish records of Broughton in 1097. By the 1200s, they were operating a corn mill on the local beck, providing work for local people - a habit they have continued more or less ever since.

The family history alone would take a lengthy book but the thing about Roger Tempest is that, although proud of the past, he has his eyes set firmly on the future.

That is why he doesn't talk of the "ownership" of Broughton Hall, one of the most beautiful houses in England, but calls himself "The Custodian."

This is taking modesty far too far because, without his immense drive and foresight and downright bloody-mindedness, the house and estate would probably have been sold out of the family a decade or so ago - the ultimate disgrace for sons of the landed gentry whose success has for centuries been judged by leaving their estates in better nick than when they inherited.

That came as a tall order because Roger was just a seven-year-old child in Oxford when his uncle died young and the child was suddenly the heir to 900 years of history - and another mountain of financial troubles.

Even now, at the age of 44, he still remembers being walked out in front of the hall's towering Georgian façade and being assured that when he grew up it would all be his "I was terrified. I didn't think, Great, I'm going to be rich' but How could anyone cope with something that huge?' "It was several years before I heard and understood the word custodian' and that's how I have looked upon myself ever since. I know I am privileged but I have never considered myself rich.

"In fact, just the opposite: houses like this need a fortune in upkeep and, at the time, we just didn't have it.

"We came very close to having to sell up but to have done that would have blighted my life forever. To go down as the guy who lost it after 900 years? It would have been unthinkable. The question was, how could we save it?"

Death duties and other taxes had forced the sale of much of the estate's land and property. All over England, stately homes were closing down.

Roger's father, who had managed the nuclear physics department at Oxford University, ran the estate whilst Roger finished his education at Ampleforth and the Royal Agricultural College.

He was then encouraged to go out into the wide-world to get some hands-on business experience and did so in spades. He worked for newspaper tycoon Eddie Shah, who after taking on and eventually beating the old print unions, founded the Today newspaper.

Roger recalls: "It was, in fact, the beginning of a revolution which has changed the newspaper industry. But my father was not in good health and it was time for me to come home to Yorkshire. I quickly discovered that the countryside needed a revolution too - and the key to that was jobs."

Broughton had dozens of empty outbuildings from the days when the estate employed scores of people. Could they be put to use? And then along came - the fax machine.

"Although very few people use it now thanks to the internet, the fax destroyed distance," says Roger. "Having worked with Eddie Shah, I knew all about the problems of renting commercial property in London and major cities like Leeds. Not only were rents sky high but there were all the problems of commuting, traffic jams, terrible trains, no parking, constant stress and hassle.

"I realised that here at Broughton, by tastefully converting some of our redundant outbuildings, we could provide office space in a far nicer environment with lower prices. I didn't dream, however, what a success it would be."

Broughton Business Park is now the base for 45 companies providing hundreds of hi-tech jobs.

It was so successful that, after months of giving free advice to friends with country estates and similar cash flow problems, Roger created Rural Solutions, which advised not just country estates but local authorities, charities and private companies. They worked on more than 300 contracts but this success began to divert Roger from his work at Broughton and his campaign, aided by his painter wife Kitty, to restore the hall.

All the profits from the business park go into this and they are obviously doing it right: the estate has received no fewer than seven major architectural awards, including the Best Building in Yorkshire.

Now, Roger has launched into yet another project, this time a charity called Yorkshire Rural Awards whose first presentation ceremony will take place at the Yorkshire Show Ground, Harrogate, on Thursday. One of their aims? Bringing more jobs to our countryside.

Added Roger: "I don't know what it is about me but I always need to be doing something new. Do you think it might be something in my genes?"