E.coli-hit Acton Scott working farm must be saved, says trust

The Rare Breeds Survival Trust has written to Shropshire Council in support of a farm that has been shut for months after E.coli was detected.

Steam threshing at Acton Scott
Steam threshing at Acton Scott

The trust has urged councillors to ensure Acton Scott Historic Working Farm re-opens, ahead of a discussion about the farm’s future.

It says Acton Scott gives members of the public the chance to see rare breed animals and helps their survival.

The council is expected to look at the future of the working farm at a meeting next month.

Acton Scott Historic Working Farm near Church Stretton closed on June 24 this year after two cases of E.coli were confirmed. It has still not reopened.

A report is now being prepared by Shropshire Council to decide how much has to be done for it to comply with industry guidelines.

The working farm featured in the BBC television series Victorian Farm.

It is a member of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's Approved Farm Park Network, proactively engaged in the promotion and conservation of native livestock biodiversity.

A national charity, the trust works to ensure the survival of the UK’s rare breeds of native livestock and equines.

A resident pig at Acton Scott Historic Working Farm
Wagoner Simon Trueman, with 'Alfie', next to the stone cider mill, at Acott Scott Historic Working Farm.

Its chief executive Christopher Price said: “Acton Scott is an important conservation centre, providing a home for some of the UK’s rarest native livestock breeds such as the Original Population Dairy Shorthorn. It provides a brilliant and unique resource for the public to see these breeds up close and understand their place in our heritage as well as their genetic and biodiversity importance today and for the future.

"It would be terrible to lose Acton Scott’s crucial contribution to the survival of our wonderful native breeds. I have written to Shropshire Council to voice our support for the farm in the strongest possible terms and to urge Shropshire Council to ensure that the farm remains safeguarded for the future.”

As well as its rare Original Population Dairy Shorthorn cattle, Acton Scott is home to one of the largest herds of rare pedigree Gloucester Old Spot pigs within the trust’s approved network. The farm’s poultry collection includes a number of rare breeds in vital breeding programmes to help the breeds’ survival, and its flock of native Shropshire sheep is known across the United Kingdom.

Clare Featherstone, head of culture, leisure and tourism at Shropshire Council, said: "We are aware of the local support for the farm and are also very fond of the site and this is why we have taken several months to consider more viable ways forward.

“Acton Scott Historic Working Farm was closed to the public following an E-coli outbreak in June and stayed closed for the remainder of the season.

“The outbreak raised awareness of the risks and costs associated with having a visitor attraction with livestock and reinforced the need for significant investment in the site, more staffing and staff training to keep the public safe.

“We have therefore been exploring several options to assess the financial viability of the farm going forward, and are seeking to work with the Acton Estate to find a sustainable approach.”

Most Read

Most Read

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News