MYSTERY swirled as Hereford City Council launched a nationwide search to find the owner of a derelict block of flats in Hereford city centre in the early 1990s.

The uninhabited grade II listed property, in Hereford's Union Street, had suffered serious structural and interior decay needing urgent repair, the Hereford Times reported in 1992.

A search for the owner had been launched six years earlier, when tenants complained about the conditions in the building in 1986, but had failed to find them, with Hereford's chief planning officer saying the council would be seeking a compulsory purchase order to allow them to undertake the works needed.

By 1994, with the council having spent between £12,000 and £15,000 in a bid to locate the owner, including hiring private detectives to track him down to his home in Somerset, the mystery was finally solved.

Family members came forward to fight to keep the "eyesore" property in his name, as the council sought to impose a compulsory purchase order on the Victorian building.

The Hereford Times reported at the time that the buildings had become dangerously rotten inside, and had been boarded up on the outside, while legal costs mounted daily.


But despite the family's hopes for the property, which the reclusive owner reportedly wanted to give to his grandchildren, the council was granted the right to compulsorily purchase the building in June 1994.

By 1996 it was in the hands of Knightstone Housing Association and had undergone a £400,000 scheme of works to provide an affordable rent scheme in the city at Nos. 4-8 Union Street.

The completed project featured six two-bedroom flats, and a three-bedroom house, funded by a £200,000 grant from the city council, £50,000 from English Heritage, and private finance raised by Knightstone.

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