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Efford Park in the early 1900s. LMGLM:2009.89.2

The current house at Efford Park was built in about 1838 by the Hicks family. Later the house was occupied by the Marchioness of Hastings, who was a pioneer collector of Bartonian fossils with her own private museum at the house and a number of academic articles to her name.

Sir Beethom Whitehead (1858-1928) took over the estate in 1907 and bought more land until it extended to 500 acres, including Efford Mill which was leased to Kings the Corn Merchants. Sir Beethom was in the diplomatic service but his wealth came from the family firm The Whitehead Torpedo Company of Weymouth.

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Efford Park in the early 1900s This image shows the rear of the house with the tennis courts. LMGLM:2010.133.7

His son,  Arthur, had his own plane with a hangar and runway on the estate. The runway was later obstructed during World War II to stop it being used by enemy gliders in an invasion attempt. Another son Edgar (1905-71) left England for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1928 for health reasons and later became the Rhodesian Prime Minister.

In the 1930s the estate was acquired by a syndicate which planned to turn the house into a country club and sell off plots for houses. However, much remained unsold. The house and estate was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1953 and became Efford Experimental Horticultural Station.

The following gallery provides more images and information on the estate.

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