£6.5m farm and seven-bedroom house bought by local firm, accounts show

Alistair Duffield, chairman and managing director of Duffields at Saxlingham Thorpe. Picture: DENISE

Alistair Duffield, chairman and managing director of Duffields at Saxlingham Thorpe. - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk farm and seven-bedroom house owned by the same family since the 1930s has been bought by a local firm.

Animal feed company Duffields, run by Alistair Duffield, based in Saxlingham Thorpe, has purchased Sco Ruston Hall Farm.

Hall Farm, Sco Ruston, snapped up by Duffields. This shows the Georgian hall at its core. Pic: Arnol

Hall Farm, Sco Ruston, snapped up by Duffields. This shows the Georgian hall at its core. - Credit: Arnolds Keys

The farm and Georgian house was owned by the Alston family and bought by Duffields for an amount in excess of £6m.

It went on the market last July for £6.5m.

Mr Duffield, who runs the 131-year-old firm, declined to comment on the sale. However it was confirmed in the company accounts dated March 21, 2021, in which he as chairman states: "Since the year ended, the group has agreed to buy Sco Ruston Hall Farm for an amount in excess of £6m, this will be farmed alongside the group's other farm two miles away."

Hall Farm, Sco Ruston, snapped up by Duffields. This shows the Georgian hall at its core. Pic: Arnol

Hall Farm, Sco Ruston, snapped up by Duffields. This shows the Georgian hall at its core. - Credit: Arnolds Keys

Hall Farm, Sco Ruston, snapped up by Duffields. Pic: Arnolds Keys

Hall Farm, Sco Ruston, snapped up by Duffields. - Credit: Arnolds Keys

Simon Evans, partner at Arnolds Keys, which handled the sale, said: "We had interest from local farming businesses wishing to extend their existing holding, interest in the house and buildings on their own and purchasers from out of the county wishing to relocate.

"There appears to still be an appetite to invest in land and particularly good land with irrigation at levels approaching the recent record values."

The farm, near North Walsham, was sold with outbuildings and 500 acres of prime agricultural land.

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The sale was as a result of Jane Alston, the widow of late farmer Gavin Alston, retiring to a smaller residence nearby. Mr Alston was part of the renowned farming family in Norfolk and the farm had been owned by Mrs Alston’s three daughters, who are not in the farming industry.

Alistair Duffield is the fourth generation of the family to run the business which produces 350,000 tonnes of animal feed a year.

The firm had a turnover of more than £86m and made a gross profit of £11.8m for the year ending in September 2020.

Duffields 125th anniversary. Pictured: William Lant Duffield

Founder of Duffields, William Lant Duffield - Credit: Archant library

Founder William Lant Duffield was a flour miller in Mattishall. In 1906 he leased Saxlingham Thorpe mill.

In 1936, W L Duffield & Sons Ltd was incorporated.and the company purchased Saxlingham Thorpe Mill for £1,100.

In the 1950s Duffields started to expand by increasing its property portfolio. This included the family home, Lamas Rectory, which remains in the family to this day.

Alistair Duffield took over as managing director, aged 28, in 1998, the great-grandson of the founder.

Based over four sites, Duffields now has 165 employees and a fleet of 40 lorries. 


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