Lancaster University takes over golf and fishing business

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Lancaster University has completed the purchase of a 165-acre site near to the campus which includes the Forrest Hills Conference and Leisure Complex.

The complex incorporates leisure facilities, a fishing lake, 11-hole golf course and a conferencing and events centre which is regularly used by local businesses and university groups. 

The university intends to run the business as a going concern and the facilities and land will be incorporated into the ongoing discussions about the wider development of the campus masterplan.

Ken Newsham said: “We’ve had a long association with the university and I’m delighted that the business will continue and that I will be working with them in the future.”

Mark Swindlehurst, Lancaster University’s director of facilities, said: “Forrest Hills is a much loved and beautiful facility which will be an asset for university staff, students and the local community.”

Forest Hills is a family-run business, started by the Newsham family more than 50 years ago. The family have farmed at Banton House for almost 50 years (and nearby for many generations).

The farm was bought in 1958 by Joseph Reginald Newsham (Ken and Colin’s grandfather) of Sellerley Farm, Conder Green, for his eldest son William Ronald Newsham when he married Eleanor Burrow.

Kenneth and Colin were born at the farm, have lived there all their lives and took over from their father.

The first trial at diversifying was in 1992 with the creation of the fly fishing lake. Fishing was chosen because anglers were already coming to the River Conder and the lake was dug in a low-lying 4 acre field next to the River Conder.

A lakeside lodge was built for use by the fishermen but proved to be more popular as a venue for meetings and management training, particularly with Lancaster University.

Forrest Hills was established in 1996 as part of the ongoing diversification of Banton House Farm, when a second lodge was added and construction of the golf course began.

The challenge continued with the construction and opening of the new resource centre in 2012; a unique ecofriendly building where larger meetings and conferences can be held.

In summer 2013 the family took on a further challenge, beginning to hire out the new building for private functions and weddings.

* For more information on the facilities available, email Helen Bastin at h.bastin@lancaster.ac.uk