SO Churchill House is to be sold, betraying an honourable agreement made years ago by good men and women.

In 1964 Mr Wood-Power, owner of the house and parkland died and stipulated in his will that the people of Hereford should have first chance of buying the estate at district valuer’s price. Led by Liberal councillors Derek Evans and Sam Beaumont, the site was seen as unrivalled in the city and an asset that would add value to the council’s balance sheet, and was bought for £42,000.


As chairman of the estates committee, Alderman Ted Ballinger delighted at changing the name to Churchill House in memory of the great statesman.

At 7pm on July 8, 1965, with a trumpet fanfare, folk dancers and a camp fire by Herefordshire scouts, guides and cubs, Churchill Gardens were formerly opened by the Mayor of Hereford, Councillor Sam Beaumont.

In 1974 Marjorie Hatton donated £23,000 for a new gallery extension, but only on condition that at any one time three walls had to show the work of her late artist brother Brian Hatton.

The new gallery joined the extensive costume collection and the world-class Edwin Banfield collection of antique barometers. The doors of Churchill House were fully open to the community and in 1997 a National Lottery-funded feasibility study recommended expansion of the museum.

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With the creation of the unitary authority in June 1998 came a new executive with scant regard for past promises and assurances.

The first moves to close the museum began and the doors finally closed in the summer of 2000, after a memorandum was issued to all councillors saying the annual running cost exceeded £100,000. This was a complete falsehood as the council’s own audited figures showed the true cost to be £28,500. A complaint was made to the local government about the falsehood and the council responded saying it had “confused” the capital cost of repairs with the annual running costs.

In 1964 Hereford City Council was an honourable assembly whose elected councillors wholeheartedly endorsed a generous opportunity willed by one man to benefit all citizens of our city.

They should not be betrayed.

Churchill House is a valuable asset and should not be sold but brought into community use like the Grange in Leominster or the old art college on Castle Green.


Former chair of the campaign to save Churchill House, Much Birch