Been working for S4/C's Wedi Saith today. Heledd Cynwal was producing an item on the Leighton Hall complex, near Welshpool. I know a fair bit about this subject through an old friend who also happens to be something of an authority, John Markwick. He was along today as my unofficial 'adviser'. John used to be Land Agent for Powys County Council, who still own most of the land and the main block of farm buildings.
The huge sums of money that were needed to develop the complex derived from a fortune made from shipping ( and probably the associated slavery trade) and banking by a successful businessman named Thomas Leyland. The visionary behind the development was a descendant of Thomas Leyland named John Naylor. It included the magnificent Leighton Hall, Leighton Church, a truly revolutionary system of renewable energy supply which involved pumping a fair proportion of the River Severn up to the top of Long Mountain, and the wonderful range of farm buildings. The kennels, the stables and the poultry house have been acquired by private owners and are well maintained today. All of these buildings will feature on the programme.
John Naylor would be very upset to learn that despite all of his innovative work, the complex is best remembered today for a much despised coniferous tree, which was first discovered at the famous farmstead by John Naylor's son Christopher - who changed his surname to Leyland in order to take over the family's banking interests. The name Leyland is now known throughout Britain, and further afield, because it was given to the Cupressus Leylandii, which grows so quickly that it becomes a solid six foot hedge in three years. Problem is that it carries on growing at the same rate, and caused so many neighbour disputes that a new Act of Parliament was passed to deal with the problem. The High Hedges Act became law a couple of years ago.
Sadly, the main complex is falling into disrepair. The Council doesn't have enough income from the Estate to maintain it. There is a desperate need for some form of restoration trust to look after what is a very important part of our history. Wedi Saith is going out at 7.00 pm on Wednesday, 9th January if you are interested in watching it.