Cadbury plans course in suburban London

An heir to one of the world’s biggest chocolate fortunes aims to build a golf resort on a storied estate in suburban London.
 
The 370-acre property, near Leatherhead in Surrey, is called Cherkley Court. Earlier this year, it was sold to an affiliate of Longshot, Ltd., a group led by Joel Cadbury, the son of the famous chocolate company’s founder. Cadbury PLC, which was recently acquired by Kraft Foods, is either the world’s biggest or second-biggest (after Mars-Wrigley) confectioner. Its products include not only Cadbury-branded chocolates (in the United States, they’re manufactured by Hershey’s) but also Snapple teas and Sunkist and Canada Dry sodas.
 
Longshot plans to convert Cherkley Court’s 30-room manor house, its six-bedroom “garden house,” and some adjacent cottages into an upscale hotel. Alongside the hotel, it’ll build a private club featuring an 18-hole golf course.
 
Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigors founded Longshot in 1994, as a holding company for their investments in London-area leisure and entertainment venues. Among their creations were the city’s first 24-hour restaurant, a health club with an organic supermarket and a medical center, and several pubs, night clubs, and eateries. The partners sold many of their holdings in 2007, reportedly for more than $80 million.
 
Cherkley Court has a lot more historical value than their other holdings. In 1911, it became the home of Max Aitken, a Fleet Street press baron who was eventually knighted and became known as Lord Beaverbrook. During World War II, Lord Beaverbrook served as England’s minister of aircraft production and was a key member of Winston Churchill’s war cabinet. Before he died, in 1964, he entertained a parade of important historical figures at the estate, among them Churchill, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, and David Lloyd George.
 
The price Longshot paid for Cherkley Court hasn’t been announced, but the seller’s agents were asking for $32 million. The estate had been owned by the Beaverbrook U.K. Foundation, a charitable trust controlled by Lord Beaverbrook’s grandson, Maxwell Aitken III.
 
Longshot’s plans haven’t yet been approved by local officials. A fly in the ointment: a local preservation group has objected to the company’s proposal and says it plans to fight it.
 
This story originally appeared in the World Edition of the Golf Course Report, in a slightly different form. For a sample copy of the World Edition, call 301/680-9460 or write to WorldEdition@aol.com.

  

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