A HISTORIC North Yorkshire estate is hoping to among the shortlist for the Large Business of the Year title after diversifying its offering and increasing employment.

The Dawnay Estates comprises two Estates in North Yorkshire; the Wykeham Estate, near Scarborough, and the Danby Estate, which consists of a grouse moor and hill farms in the North York Moors National Park, near Whitby.

The Estate has been owned by the Downe family for the last 350 years. The current owner, the 12th Viscount Downe, inherited the Estates 16 years ago and has since worked hard to develop and maintain its land and properties which extend to 21,000 acres in total.

The two Estates are situated some 35 miles apart, supporting 50 full time employees.

Farming will always be a part of the Dawnay Estates, with 2400 acres and 18 tenanted farms. However, over the last 40 years it has diversified its operations away from agriculturally based enterprises to develop a number of businesses which contribute towards the profitability of the estate, provide local employment and support the local economy, while also maintaining and improving the local environment.

The Estates were recently awarded the Bledisloe Gold Medal for 2018, by the Royal Agricultural Society of England (“RASE”) for its ‘high standards of modern rural Estate management including successful diversification and development of new rural enterprises’.

The Estate at Wykeham forms the main hub of the rural businesses many of which were established

in the mid 1970s. In total there are 35 businesses on the estate which turnover in excess of £35 million. The Estate owns several of these businesses and there are also independently owned businesses which use the estate premises.

Wykeham Mature Plants, set up in 1975 by the 11th Viscount Downe, is now the largest grower and supplier of semi-mature trees, hedging and shrubs in the North East of England.

North Yorkshire Water Park, pictured, is another example of one of the estate’s businesses. It was established in 2017 on an 85 acre lake, a by-product of ongoing gravel extraction, and offers kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing as well as a popular inflatable AquaPark, fishing, open water swimming and mini-ships and pedalos. The aim is to provide adventurous, outdoor, fun activities that the whole family will enjoy.

The Water Park has ambitious plans for future development into a visitor attraction which will include a new permanent café.

Other businesses include Dawnay Sporting, and St Helen’s Caravan Park.

Having been owned for many generations by the Downe family, the culture at Dawnay Estates has evolved with their values at heart.