The publishing entrepreneur and philanthropist Professor Barry Pettman was still a child when doctors declared that he would be dead by the age of 30 due to a rare cranial malformation.
The depressing diagnosis had a catalytic effect on the working class boy who came from a fishing family in Hessle, near Hull He vowed to live life to the full and make the most of it and that he did. When the time came to celebrate his 30th birthday, he was very much alive and well on his way to becoming one of the richest men in Yorkshire.
Academically gifted, he had gained a BSc from the University of Hull, followed by a Masters degree and then a PhD from the prestigious Cass Business School in London. His early career as a lecturer in industrial relations at Hull and then Bradford University saw him meet his great friend and business partner Richard Dobbins. Together, the pair went on to co-found what is now Bingley-based Emerald Publishing, specialising in academic books and journals. They later sold the business in a spectacular deal that made them millions, while continuing to write books, including the best-selling What Self-Made Millionaires Really Think, Know and Do.
A dedicated bon viveur, Prof. Pettman lavished a large chunk of his publishing proceeds on Enholmes Hall, his much-loved home just outside the pretty village of Patrington on the Holderness peninsula, half an hour’s drive from Hull and Spurn Point. The 12-bedroom property, which comes with the nine-hole golf course he commissioned, is now for sale following his death in 2017.
He left the world aged 73, as something of a medical miracle, given his doctor’s doom-laden diagnosis, his fondness for cigars, red meat and red wine and a point blank refusal to eat fruit or vegetables. His historic country house is now on the market for £1.5m with joint agents Blenkin and Co. and Knight Frank.
Prof. Pettman discovered it in 1974 when it had been split into two homes owned by the Crown Agents. He rented one of the properties before persuading the agents to sell it to him. When the tenant in the other half of the building left, he bought that too and set about returning the early Victorian hall to its original splendour while acquiring 40 acres of surrounding land.
Prof. Pettman’s best friend, business partner and executor of his will Richard Dobbins says: “The house was a wreck with 20ft high chimneys in danger of collapse. One of the first things he did was lower them. “He loved the house and the whole Victorian gentleman style it offered him. He spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on renovating and furnishing it and it is in excellent condition.”
Enholmes Hall was built in 1858 by the late William Marshall Esq, formerly MP for East Cumberland. The 9,500 sq.ft property is full of original features and comes with a three-bedroom coach house, a range of outbuildings, gardens, a separate walled garden, mature woodlands and the golf course. Its land extends to 42.7 acres.
Set over three floors, there is a reception hall with galleried first floor landing, a drawing room, a formal dining room, a kitchen/breakfast room with walk-in pantry and a separate study. A rear hallway provides access to a home office, library, family room, utility room, bathroom and a sauna. To the first floor, there are four double bedrooms and a house bathroom. Four further bedrooms are accessed via a second staircase, which continues up to the second floor where there are another four bedrooms.
Along with lavishing his money on his Enholmes Hall, Prof. Pettman also bought himself a couple of Rolls Royces, a home in New Zealand and a Baronetcy. He became the Baron of Bombie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland after he purchased the title from Sir David Hope-Dunbar of the Hope-Dunbar baronets.
Annoyed that only those with inherited titles could appear in Burke’s Peerage, he acquired the publishing rights and changed the rules so that he and others could be included.
After printing an updated edition, he and his partners in the venture also gave each English region its own dedicated volume.
“The traditional national version of Burke’s has a bias towards the South,” he told The Yorkshire Post at the time. “We also thought it was time for Burke’s Landed Gentry to recognise that social patterns are very different now from when the book was first published in 1826.”
This was reflected in the listing of the Leeds actress Liz Dawn, who played Coronation Street’s Vera Duckworth, and Dame Judi Dench, who hails from York. A generous philanthropist, he was particularly keen on helping musically gifted young people fulfil their potential.
He was a founding patron of Opera North and he and his wife Maureen, who spent winters at their second home in Akaroa in New Zealand, sponsored the country’s Pettman National Junior Academy and helped more than 200 gifted music students from New Zealand to achieve their career goals. Richard Dobbins says: “Barrie was remarkable and such good fun. I still miss him. He loved a drink and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which he declared was the only music worth listening to.
“He couldn’t stand people who complained and who didn’t get up and do something like he had done. He achieved all his goals before he was 30 and he got his big house and Rolls Royces. No one can deny that his was a life well lived.”
For details of the sale of Enholmes Hall visit www.blenkinandco.com or knightfrank.co.uk