Bel Farm Kempston Rural
Bell Farmhouse April 2015
Bell Farmhouse was an attractive old building on the brow of the hill overlooking the bypass leading from the A421 to Ridge Road. It was gutted by fire in July 2015 following the actions of vandals, having been boarded up for some time. The property was in existence in 1845 form 185 acres in occupation of John Freshwater were auctioned in 25 lots [WG2408]. The house formed part of Lot 4 - part of Town Hedge Field together with a cottage, yard, barn and out buildings comprising 15 acres, 1 rood 24½ poles.
The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting Bell Farm found that a new farmhouse had been built and the old one turned into part of the homestead [DV1/H1/12]. The farm as then occupied by A Woodland and owned by Kempston Urban District Council Smallholdings Committee. The rent had been £130 per annum since October 1925 for 56 acres.
The valuer noted: "Decent land. Rather wet in arable field. New house built Summer 1925 (Good). Kempston water laid on. A useful smallholding with fair buildings. Poor road about 250 yards up to farm". Another hand wrote: "Arable ground wet and some of the pasture poor".
The new farmhouse comprised two reception rooms, a kitchen and scullery and a bathroom downstairs with, three bedrooms upstairs. An earth closet and coal house stood outside. The valuer commented: "Quite a good house. Water laid on from Kempston waterworks to buildings, house and grass field".
Homestead comprised a number of blocks as follows:
- South block: the old house converted to a tool place (a later hand has written "dairy") and a stable for four with a loft over. There was also a brick, wood and tiled piggery;
- South west block: a brick, wood and tiled mixing barn with two open hovels at the back;
- North block: a brick and tiled piggery, a wood and corrugated iron piggery and brick, wood and corrugated iron three bay open hovel;
- Near the road: a brick, wood and tiled poultry house and two bay open shed.
Following the arson which left just a shell, the structure was prey to further vandalism with the mindless spryaing of graffiti on its external walls. In March 2016 this old and much abused building was demolished.