Video: Victorian stud farm reborn as 21st century thoroughbred

WITH its private water supply, ventilated stables and red brick buildings Myton Hall Stud Farm would have once been among the most modern farms in the country.

Over the years disuse meant that the once opulent farm fell into disrepair but now, thanks to its current owners, the farm has now been painstakingly restored to its former glory.

Based on the historic Myton estate near Boroughbridge in North Yorkshire, the farm's stables, water tower, covering yard and cobbled walkways have been repaired and revamped to just how they would have appeared when the farm was built in 1870.

So authentic is the restoration that the farm could easily be used as a film set for a period drama, with owners Nigel and Nick Ramsden now hoping to use the remodelled farm as stables.

The brothers, the third generation of their family to farm on the Myton estate, also own the neighbouring 370-hectare Home Farm and recently decided to act to preserve the old stud farm, providing a fascinating example of Yorkshire's agricultural heritage.

Both brothers decided to press ahead with the work when they discovered that Natural England could fund the project.

The cash allowed them to restore the buildings to just how they appeared when it was built by its then owner Major Henry Miles Stapylton. In its day the farm will have been one of the most high tech operation for its day, with no expense seemingly spared on its construction.

The site had its own railway link, blacksmiths and slaughterhouse. There was also an 18,000 gallon water tank which was filled by water syphoned off from a nearby spring and passed through a filtration system and pumped to the tower using a steam engine.

Nick Ramsden said his family had always wanted to restore the building and were thrilled when the funding option became apparent.

He said: "My brother and I have always considered ourselves custodians of this wonderful piece of agricultural heritage. There is so much history connected with it, you could probably write a book about it."

In its early history the farm became a centre for horse breeding, with its stud, named Shepherd, having been imported from Maine in the US. Shepherd won several high-profile trotting races in England and France and today all Morgan horses in the UK are said to trace their heritage back to the stallion. The farm also played a role in both the world wars, the buildings being requisitioned during the First World War by the army as a training centre for military horses.

During the Second World War the buildings were again given over to military use, being used for storing sugar by the Ministry of Supply. The Ramsden family took over the farm in the 1920s.

To make the work authentic, much of the building work had to be carried out in the original fashion of the time, and carried out using original materials.

The farm today is a far cry from how it appeared just last year when it was in such a bad state that the brothers began to wonder if it was safe to allow anglers to walk through the yard to the River Swale.

The once dilapidated farm is safe and clean, and walking around its yards very much like taking a step back in time. However, the brothers have no desire to keep it as a museum piece and hope to maintain it as a working site.

Natural England backed project

The work to restore Myton Stud Farm came about as a result of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.

Run by Natural England, the Government's advisory body on nature and the environment, it was set up to deliver environmental benefits in rural areas and provides funding to help preserve and enhance British country life.

Work includes restoring traditional farm buildings, creating plots for ground-nesting birds, restoring orchards and allowing for permissive footpath access or educational access for schools. Natural England's historic adviser Margaret Nieke said: "I am absolutely delighted with the work that has taken place."