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Celebrating 30 years of perfect family days out
IT only seems like yesterday that we threw open our doors on Good Friday, 1989. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge but the memories are still fresh. The nervous anticipation…would anyone come? Would they be happy with what we’d managed to put together? Would people pay £1 for an adult or 75p for a child to look around a farm? When we shut our gates at the end of the day. there was £100 in the till. We were delighted and could see a path to the survival of the family business. Over the past 30 years, millions of people have passed through our gates and without them we wouldn’t
CANNON HALL FARM have been able to grow and prosper; to invest money back into the farm, adding new buildings, shops, restaurants and playgrounds. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to create so many new jobs. Many of those early customers have become friends. We’ve seen children who visited us all those years ago grow up and have families of their own. It’s lovely to see generation after generation passing through our gates reminiscing about how things were back in the first few years. Our aim has always been to create lasting memories by providing the perfect family day out. Thousands of people have worked here over those years.
Some really special people who have made a huge contribution to what we do here and added expertise in areas where we didn’t have much, passed on wisdom and put us on the right path; given us friendship and companionship through both good and bad times. We just want to say a massive thank you to all those people who have made our life so much more fulfilled. Some of them are no longer with us but it’s with heartfelt gratitude that we remember all those who’ve contributed to our journey. Thank you for walking alongside us and thank you for sharing the load. It’s been a blast and we look forward to the next 30 years – and another generation of customers, friends and workmates.
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History in the making: The fascinating story behind the farm. Snakes alive: Meet the slippery residents of our reptile house.
Fun for all: The Hungry Llama is the day out the weather can’t spoil...
Talking shop: Cannon Hall Farm Shop’s reputation for quality produce.
School’s out: Kids of all ages can learn so much down on the farm...
Farmyard friends: Meet some of our favourite characters...
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Cannon Hall Farm – so much more than just a family affair THEY say farming is in the blood - but anyone from a farming family knows that isn’t true. It isn’t in the blood. It’s in the marrow of your bones, in the skin of your fingers, cracked and raw from freezing nights in the lambing shed, from the stoop of your back from lifting heavy bales, from the depths of your soul trying to make it work, make a living, make a life. There’s no quitting. There’s no giving in. When your farm is ripped from your grasp, your family home sold to make way for a new council estate. You yourself dust off. You move on. You make it work somehow. Roger Nicholson was 16 years old when life as he knew it changed forever. He had spent a happy childhood at Bank End Farm in Worsborough, helping his Dad Charlie farm the land that had belonged to the Nicholson’s since 1650. Since he could walk, he could farm. As a toddler, he made the farmyard his playground, adopting pet lambs and helping to bottle-feed the ones who needed it.
And by the time he was eight, he’d become quite the expert at driving the Shire horse, his small frame perched on the metal seat of the hay rake behind, clinging on to the reigns as it navigated across the hay meadows. At just eight years of age he would rush home after school each day ready to milk two cows by hand. In winter it was a particularly tough task, his hands already cold from the biting air chilled and chapped by the frost. But even now, 70 years later, that smell of fresh milk can still catapult him back to a simpler time - when his knees
Timeline The original sale catalogue for Cannon Hall Farm back in the 1957. The farm was sold at auction to Charlie Nicholson for £7100. Having watched the bidding rise to his limit of £7000 he decided on just one more bid and discovered it was everyone else’s limit too.
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were covered in scrapes from the many adventures that were offered a boy living in more innocent times. Right back to when he was surrounded by the smells of home, his small head pushed into a cow’s side as he balanced on a three-legged milking stool and focused on the task at hand. Roger was precious to his parents. Charlie and Irenie had three daughters, Olive, Shirley and Beryl, but longed for another boy, after their first son, Alan, died as an infant. They longed for a boy to carry on the tradition that the generations before had done. Roger was born to take on the mantle of head of the family - continuing the
Christmas at Cannon Hall Farm was always a wonderful time. Having sold all his turkeys on Christmas Eve, Roger would head to the shops for some last minute shopping.
historic family tradition of farming. While most children were learning the alphabet and simple sums, Roger had an extra curriculum to get right. He not only had to learn how to care for the animals but also the complicated business of farming - the stock and trade that came with being a cattle man. By the time he was 13 years old, Roger knew in his bones he was exactly where he should be. He was never happier than when he was outdoors, with the animals under his care. It was a balmy, summer’s day when he smelled smoke and realised disaster was in the air. Fire was no-one’s friend but, to a farmer, fire could spell ruination. On legs made strong from labour, Roger rushed towards the blaze and realised it was confined to a haystack just a few feet from one of the stockyards. He could hear the panicked calls of the animals inside and as the building filled with smoke and realised that he had to act. In a heroic moment, that was later reported in the local newspaper, Roger rushed into the burning building and saved all the animals, leading them to safety through the acrid smoke, and away from the flames. In many ways, Roger led a varied and happy life at his family farm in Worsborough Dale – but the crushing news that it was being compulsory purchased came as a shock to the family. They stood to lose not only their home
A rare family day trip to Flamingo Land in the 1970’s. Perhaps this was when the idea of opening a visitor attraction came to Roger?
but also their land and their livelihood. The council was building a new housing estate - and the land they had chosen was the Nicholson’s. They were offered a derisory settlement, £60 an acre. In the weeks that followed they began to box up a lifetime of memories, preparing to leave the land Roger had once imagined himself growing old upon. But Charlie Nicholson was never a defeatist - and with pragmatism that he passed down to his son, he realised that, in reality, the compulsory purchase could be seen as an open door. They’d been given a chance to try a new challenge. He was thrumming with excitement when he told his family his plans to move the Nicholson’s to a new farm and he had his sights firmly set on one place. Cannon Hall Farm in Cawthorne was a historic, 126 acre holding that sat in
the Pennine foothills, the home farm to a historic house. It had the potential to be great - offering not only beautiful landscapes but also space to grow. Despite the heartbreak of a forced move, Charlie became convinced that Cannon Hall Farm was the Nicholson’s destiny. He was a pragmatic businessman who lived by a firm set of rules. He instilled honour and work ethic in his children and his peers. He was a proud farmer, competing in agricultural shows and winning awards for his prized beasts. He was not a man to change his mind once he’d made it - nor was he one to embark on frivolous risks. Cannon Hall Farm was going under the hammer; the aristocratic family who’d lived there had long gone. The manor house had become a public museum run by the council but the land was available. Charlie took his life savings and headed to the auction. He’d set himself a limit - he’d sworn to himself the most he could stretch to was £7,000 - a small fortune at the time and representing many years of hard-fought savings. In the auction room, the atmosphere was electric. He sat on a chair, heart racing, hands in a nervous sweat gripping the paddle. Bidding leapt forward at a rapid pace. £3,000. £4,000. £5,000. He hadn’t placed a single bid. As he glanced around him, he saw rabid determination on his rivals faces and he
Farmer Roger in reflective mood as the shell of the new tearoom and gift shop goes up in the background.
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felt a sinking moment of despair. £6,000. £7,000. Going, going... Charlie had still not placed a bid. He’d lost the auction without placing a single bid. The thick wool of his trousers scratched as he used them to wipe his damp palms, and with seconds to spare, Charlie took a leap of faith. He bid £7,100 - over his own budget, breaking his own rule. But the hammer dropped and it was official. Cannon Hall Farm became a part of the family. And for generations they would become not just custodians of the land but advocates for it too. And so the family embarked on their new challenge - but sadly Charlie would not live long enough to see if his big dreams would pay off. Within twelve months of moving to Cannon Hall Farm, Roger returned home from school to be told his dad had died suddenly. He was only 16 - grieving, shocked, and scared but he had to step into the role as head of the family, establishing a completely new business and making it work. It was a crushing burden. There had been such buoyant excitement and plans for the future - but Charlie had been the larger than life character driv-
ing it forward and without him, Roger felt unmoored. He knew he had to manage the farm as Charlie would have wanted - but it was a daunting task for a teenager still at school. Roger poured himself into the business - he was well-liked in the farming community with many of Charlie’s old friends and neighbours offering him assistance. And by the time he was 18, he’d established Cannon Hall Farm as a viable business. It was self sustaining. Charlie’s dream was safe. It was at a Young Farmer’s Dance, in the depths of winter, that Roger would encounter the next pivotal moment of his life. It was a miserable year, thick with snow, and the Halifax young farmers event was a sorry affair. Hardly anyone had turned up due to the weather - but the few that had were determined to have a good time. They decided to play a risqué́ game where the girls had to remove their stockings. It was then that Roger met Cynthia - when he cheekily asked if he could help her in putting them back on. Cynthia was never one to beat around the bush - and gave him a withering look and a categorical no thanks! But it was the opening Roger needed and, by the time they’d left, he’d arranged an-
It soon became obvious that 80 seats was never going to be enough and the gift shop was relocated to make way for more tables and chairs.
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In the early days there was a lot of reliance on things being homemade and this has continued in the business. As well as homemade cakes and scones our animal shaped blackboards were homemade too.
other date with the woman who would eventually become his wife. They lived for a blissful few years at Cannon Hall Farm - cash poor but wealthy in experience and spirit. And then: children. Three boys who came within four years of each other, to carry on the legacy. Roger continued his tradition of milking cows, but just one now, a ‘house cow’. They called it the ‘Pantomime Cow’ due its comical, accentuated bone structure. And he’d always make sure there was fresh milk for the boys to wake up to, still frothy and warm for breakfast. It wasn’t long before Richard, Robert and David were helping out on the farm too – helping get the turkeys ready for Christmas and selling them to locals in the village of Cawthorne. The children’s job was to pluck the birds, transporting them around to the room where they were to be processed. Times were tough and there wasn’t much money around so the ancient, battered Silver Cross pram that Cynthia had so lovingly pushed her children around in was thrown into service as a turkey carrier. It was used in the farmyard, for various jobs for many years. It was hard, cold work. Auntie Flo told dirty jokes that always had everyone chuckling when she finally managed to stop laughing for long enough to deliver them. Fred was a big strong fella who wore checked shirts, had a huge beard and eyes that sparkled with mischief. He looked like a lumberjack and lived on the moors above Halifax and would come to help at Christmas. The children’s favourite game was to pretend to be turkeys, queuing up for Fred to pick them up, using the house radiator as a ‘plucking machine’ as they screamed with laughter. When the turkeys were sold on Christmas Eve and the battered old tin that served as a cash box was full of money, Roger would head off for some last minute shopping and always made
sure to come home with a big gift from Santa. A kid’s snooker table, table football, or the very favourite, a table tennis table that was used for many years and led to Robert being ranked in the top 16 boys in Yorkshire and Robert and Richard representing Barnsley at junior level. Christmas for the Nicholson’s was about coughing as feathers filled the air, hot steaming breath in the chilly atmosphere and dressing the birds with sore fingers, aching from the cold. But, best of all, Christmas was about precious memories of people long gone, gilded with nostalgia and the hope that those memories will be passed on to the next generation. That the lessons learned, the laughter, hard work and events that shaped the childhood of the Nicholson brothers would become a perfect storm of circumstance that would eventually save Cannon Hall Farm and preserve it for future generations. As small children, Robert and David were always thinking of get-rich quick schemes to add to the coffers - the grand old house next door was a museum and country park, bringing in thousands of visitors. Picture the scene, two small boys, grubby from plenty of adventures, wear-
ing home made shorts and ankle socks. Robert had been born with charm in spades and was always one to spot an opportunity – so he convinced David to carry a battered cardboard box with an unwitting chicken inside. He’d wait for a likely looking passer by, preferably a family with children, then approach and confidently ask: “would you like to stroke a baby chicken for 2p”? If the answer was yes then David was under strict instructions to then produce the said chicken from the box. Robert would be the one to take the money and shove it down his sock. It is a source of mystery as to where those precious 2ps went - because poor David never did seem to get his share. But by the mid-1980s the honeymoon period was over. Roger had struggled to make the business work - he’d worked as hard as he could, but poor market values on produce meant he’d never made a profit of more than £700 in a year. The overdraft was building year on year. Incomes were falling, the bank was no longer willing to lend and the pressure was building. He was heavily in debt and the bank had called a meeting. He felt despair
and disappointment - his teenage sons were at college and he’d always hoped that the business could sustain them all, and give them jobs when they left. He had wanted to carry on Charlie’s dream of the Nicholson farming legacy – but it had become very clear that being ‘just’ farmers was not working. Roger had visited a handful of farms
Investment in play areas in the early days was a real leap of faith. Tens of thousands of pounds for equipment seemed a huge price to pay but it soon became obvious they would be much used and loved. As the years went by, play – both indoor and outdoor – would became a more and more important part of a farm visit.
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Get 20 % off farm admission during the six week holidays when you book online!
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Ferret and Sheep Racing Meerkat Talks Milking Demos Tractor Trailer Rides *Applies to prebooked online freedom tickets only the gate price during the six week holidays will be £9.95 per person.
around the UK – like Chatsworth and Cotswold Farm Park which had opened to the public - and he thought he saw a way forward. Could Cannon Hall Farm achieve the lofty heights of Chatsworth and become a visitor attraction that people would actually pay to visit? The bank manager had called in a special agricultural advisor and Roger set out his plans - which involved selling some of the farm buildings for housing and redeveloping others. He had carefully mapped out a vision for the future which would give his boys secure jobs to come home to. His vision - to open the farm to the public and build the business into a tourism venue. But the bank’s reply was stark and not designed to spare Roger’s feelings. He’d never been able to support his wife or his family, they said. He should just sell up and get a different job while he still had equity in the business. He gathered together his papers and walked out of the bank wondering if they might possibly be right. Roger faced a difficult situation - but he wasn’t about to give up. He didn’t want to be the generation that ended the Nicholson legacy. He went to other banks, dogged with determination, until he found one that bought in to his vision.
School trips would become an important part of the farm’s income. Roger and his sons had to learn to become tour guides.
He scraped together money for a few small improvements and the farm opened to the public for the first time on Good Friday, 1989. Roger took £100 on that first day - an absolute fortune compared to his precious income levels - and never looked back. It was the trigger that would end up becoming the catalyst for change - and Roger recognised that tourism was their future. The ramshackle farm buildings became a firm favourite with local families, who loved the experience of feeding goats and lambs. They used an old farm building as a tearoom, with Cynthia baking her now-famous scones for visitors to enjoy. The early years were tough - and money was tight but Roger was fearless in his programme of reinvestment. Cannon Hall Farm transformed from a small, mixed family farm - to a visitor attraction with a working farm that was bigger than ever. The boys grew up and married. Had children and looked to the next generation. Business was good. Visitor numbers were growing. They had a handful of employees and the future was secure. They added adventure playgrounds and a farm shop.
Every time they took a risk and invested in the future, turnover, jobs and visitors increased. Around ten years ago they embarked on a huge investment programme in the farm. It was a radical scheme and involved yet more borrowing. First came the iconic roundhouse, then a new £1.5 million farmyard, the demolition of the existing farmyard and the opening of the Hungry Llama indoor play. They developed the very first farm visitor centre of its type in the world one that allowed visitors to watch with the farmers during their day to day work - which can be as varied as assisting in a birth, milking, shearing or tractor workfrom the safety of a viewing platform. And 30 years after that first vision, Roger succeeded in not only creating jobs for his three sons...but in building a multi-million pound tourist attraction that employs over 270 local people. Roger is now 76 years old - but he’s in the barns every single day - training the next generation of farmers and educating visitors to help them understand how important British farming is. And he even has his own fanbase, a new generation of visitors that watch his series of live online broadcasts, led by his sons, educating people about being a farmer and what it entails. His hard work was rewarded last year, when the farm was named Best Large Visitor Attraction in the White Rose Awards - and by landing a deal with a TV production company that saw Cannon Hall Farm be showcased to millions of people through the Channel 5 TV show Springtime on the Farm. Farmer Roger has his legacy - the Nicholson’s have kept the treasure that is Cannon Hall Farm safe for the next generation. He’s certainly not ready for a quiet retirement either with ambitious plans in the pipeline for further expansion Roger the businessman farmer is still leading the way in rural diversification – and creating childhood memories for a new generation as he does so.
The prices the farm received at market for its stock were poor so in 1998 the Farm Shop was opened. Farmer Richard is pictured here with our first butcher John Holmes who taught us good habits from the very start. He was soon joined by Alan and both became firm favourites with customers.
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Beer-drinking bull is remembered IN the 1950s Charlie Nicholson bought a white dairy shorthorn bull called Sam and he won prizes far and wide with him. Whenever he won a prize Charlie would take him to the beer tent and buy him a pint of stout. He would open his mouth and Charlie would pour the beer down. Sam became known as the beer drinking bull and even appeared in the local press. When the Nicholson family decided to redevelop and extend their existing tearoom and add a bar they decided
to remember Charlie’s white bull in the restaurant name. The White Bull serves really delicious home cooked food using beef, pork and lamb from our farm shop next door. It’s another part of what is a completely joined up food business. With 250 seats indoors and lots more outdoor we’ve lots of space even on busy days. Roger Nicholson, who owns the farm says “The most important part of any business is the people in it and here at Cannon Hall Farm we have some really
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great, professional staff who go above and beyond what is expected.” In a recent Visit England assessment of the Cannon Hall Farm site we gained a 100% mark for our catering. It doesn’t get any better than that! On top of a delicious day time menu, we also run regular bistro evenings, where our chefs serve up their very best dishes. These tables are very limited and must be prebooked in advance – they occur on selected Fridays only.
Reptile house already a hit
CANNON Hall Farm is constantly seeking to improve its offer and in 2018 added a popular new attraction – the reptile house. This amazing, indoor space is home to a fascinating variety of lizards, snakes, insects, fish, crabs, amphibians and a colony of leaf cutter ants. We run daily handling sessions with our curious critters and a farmer is always on hand to explain the characteristics of each reptile to the children. It has proved a very popular new addition - and it was an important project for us to undertake because many of the reptiles within were actually rescued from an animal charity.
Robert Nicholson, farm director, said: “We rescued all the reptiles from a charity called Reptilia – these were mainly ones that had been rescued from domestic settings that just weren’t ideal for them. “We worked really hard building the perfect environment for them and we are absolutely thrilled to say they are thriving. It really means a lot to us to see how much the children love it.” The farm has recently introduced reptile birthday parties - where children get to exclusively meet the reptiles before it opens to the public. n For details contact amanda@ cannonhallfarm.co.uk.
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Cannon Hall Farm’s primetime TV fame CANNON Hall Farm is incredibly proud to be the official host farm for a major Channel 5 TV show. Springtime on the Farm – produced by Daisybeck Studios returned for a season two in April and great viewing figures mean the farm is keeping everything crossed for a season three. The show charts what life is like for farmers across the UK at their busiest time of year – Spring – and found its home with the Nicholson family after the producers saw the popular live broadcasts that the farm runs on its Facebook page. Celebrity special guests The Yorkshire Vets, soap star Kelvin Fletcher and Archer’s actor Charles Collingwood all joined in the fun – with presenters Adam Henson and
Lindsey Chapman. One of our rare breeds barns was converted into a TV studio for the week. Robert Nicholson said: “We’ve had an amazing time filming the show and made some lifelong friends. “We’d love to be involved in a season three but it will all depend on viewing numbers. “We are incredibly proud to be able to represent our home town on such a big stage - and we have enjoyed every second. “As for it being our anniversary year, I can’t believe how fast 30 years has gone. I can still remember the first day we opened – and we weren’t sure at all it was going to succeed.”
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Join us for the perfect family day out... CANNON Hall Farm is officially the best family day out in Yorkshire after being named Best Large Visitor Attraction in the 2018 White Rose Awards. One of the biggest and best farm attractions in the UK, it’s a world of animal magic where thousands of baby animals are born every year. Enjoy the excitement of placing a bet on the sheep and ferret racing and learn how milk is produced during our cow and goat milking demonstrations. Join us as we feed our meerkats and learn all about the Shire horse’s farming history in our
daily talks. You’ll find a wide variety of animals from rare breeds of cows, pigs, donkeys, ponies and sheep to more exotic species like llamas, alpacas and even reindeer. We run a daily tractor ride which is very popular with the little ones and our play areas are second to none. We have a reptile house where you can pet and handle our more curious critters and our fascinating round house is where you’ll go during lambing and shearing OUR huge outdoor play areas are some of the best in season – where you get a birds the North of England. There’s adventure everywhere eye view of our farmers at work and may even be lucky enough to with fantastic slides and towns for the kids to let off steam. witness a live birth. OUR spectacuOUR barns are all underlar indoor play cover and give visitors a area, The Hungry unique insight into modLlama is one of the ern farming. We carry on biggest and best every day farming life – in the region. It’s including tractor and maa hive of exciting chinery work – as visitors play opportunities watch from purpose-built with nine dramatic viewing platforms above slides designed the animals. Our farmers to entertain the are always happy to anmost adventurous swer questions as they go children. We serve about their daily duties. great food in the You won’t need wellies 350 seat restaurant at our farm – we are all where adults can paved and very buggy relax while the kids friendly. play.
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Hours of fun for everyone in the Hungry Llama
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CANNON Hall Farm is such a mixture of experiences. From quiet contemplation in the animal barns to the fascination of a world of snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs and insects in the reptile house, to high octane excitement for the kids in the Hungry Llama indoor play area. Luckily there’s also an opportunity for mums and dads to refuel with excellent food and drink from our in-house restaurant. We go way beyond what you’d expect at a visitor attraction to deliver award winning food in all our on-site restaurants. Our spectacular playframe will tick all your kids boxes with awesome slides and a huge range of different activities and features. Our under 4’s area is one of the largest in the north of England and designed to suit the needs of smaller children away from the hustle and bustle of the main playframe. Fire foam balls at your pals or enjoy a game of mini football…it’s all happening inside one of the north’s biggest and best indoor play areas. Entry to the Hungry Llama is all included in with your farm admission and it stays open until 6.30pm every day.
Meet the farming family... Roger Nicholson ROGER was born in Barnsley, living on the family farm at Worsborough Dale until he was 15. He moved to Cannon Hall Farm after the family farm was compulsorily purchased. He was the youngest of five children and his destiny was always to farm. He married Cynthia in 1965 and has three sons and four grandchildren. He left school at 16 to take over the family farm following the death of his father. He was a keen sportsman as a young man and very much enjoys watching football and cricket. Heâ€™s happiest when working with his animals and even at 76, heâ€™s still one of the first out in the morning and the last in at night. He has no plans to retire.
Richard Nicholson RICHARD Nicholson, the oldest of the three brothers, was born in 1966. Instead of farming, Richard broke from tradition and received a degree in graphic design after studying in Hull. In his spare time he enjoys watching sport, cooking, photography and fishing. He now mostly works in the marketing department promoting the farm to the public and enjoys the varied aspects of social media. He is also involved with buying for the gift and farm shops. He has a son, Marshall who is still at school. DAVID Nicholson is the youngest of the brothers and was born in 1970. He has always enjoyed working with animals. David also attended agricultural college after school, this time at Bishop Burton near Beverley. Away from the farm he enjoys skiing during the winter months and is something of an action man having enjoyed such activities as scuba diving and waterskiing in the past. He is married to Anita and has a daughter Poppy who works in television and film as a makeup artist. David is considered our expert lamber and is responsible for shearing the sheep for our popular May festival.
ROBERT Nicholson was born in 1968 and always had a keen interest in farming. Along with his brothers he spent his days building dens and playing in the park and farmyard. He went to Askam Bryan agricultural college and now enjoys spending time in all parts of the business and enjoys promoting the farm through Facebook Lives along with brother David and father Roger. Robert is married to Julie and has two children, Katie who works at the farm in the HR department and Tom who works in London.
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The home of quality produce WHEN you walk through the doors of Cannon Hall Farm Shop you immediately realise that this is a place where great food is taken seriously. The Nicholson family started out with just two butchers, drafted in from a relative’s farm shop that was closing down, and had just one counter selling meat with a few other shelves selling jams, preserves and gifts. But over the years, the interest in it grew so much that it eventually spread into everything from cookware to our own baked goods, award-winning breads and pies lovingly created in the bake room that we built. Richard Nicholson describes the farm shops inception as a series of happy accidents, the Webbs – famous for selling their delicious pies on Penistone Market – joined the team and custom boomed.
He said: “Our farm shop team is passionate about our farm to fork journey – we cater for people who long for a simpler time when food miles were counted individually rather than in thousands. “Our food has provenance, and we are old-fashioned thinkers when it comes to producing food. “We think that journey should be simpler, that our food should travel less. That the journey from farmyard to farm shop is long enough.” Cannon Hall Farm is a producer of beef, pork and lamb, manufacturers of sausages, bacon and award winning pies, all marketed through our farm shop direct to the public. You’ll find artisan sourdough bread, produced in our own bakery along with award winning pork pies and delicious
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cakes and bakes. Our fruit and vegetables are sourced as locally as possible when in season. We’re proud to have been voted the best farm shop in the UK at the National Butchery Awards 2018 and now we’ve just beaten competition from across the UK to be named Retailer of the Year at Farm Shop and Deli Awards 2019 and also scooped the Farm Shop of the Year gong. The judges praised the Cannon Hall Farm Shop highly, with comments covering a respect for their digital presence and continued growth in what is a difficult time all round for retail, as well as their involvement in local causes and events. The judges said: “Interesting day to day view of a working farm. “Great employer. Good social net-
working. Beautiful butchery counter.” Another judge complimented the retailer’s “sheer dynamism and success of what is still at its heart a farm. “They measure smiles on faces and bums on seats, love it”. Cannon Hall Farm Shop’s customers were equally exuberant in their tributes, with locals citing the outstanding quality of produce, welcoming, helpful and knowledgeable staff and excellent variety of local sourced goods all under
one roof as winning attributes. Co-chair of judges Elaine Lemm, a highly respected food writer, classically trained chef, teacher and ex-restaurateur, says: “The Nicholson family may have created a thriving commercially prosperous business, but they have never let go of what is still at the heart of this enterprise, their grandfather’s farm. “With their hugely successful, busy farm shop to supply, they produce over
1000 pigs, 900 lambs and over 300 cattle each year. With awards and plaudits both regionally and nationally, it is no surprise that Cannon Hall Farm and the Nicholson family are recognised as one of the pioneering businesses of this sector and worthy winners.” Cannon Hall Farm is constantly trying to move forward and improve its offer and hopes to eventually move to selling online as well as in store.
Don’t just take our word for it Here are a few thoughts of some of our happy customers n “They have a wide variety of products and their butchers counter is products made from their own farm. The staff are so friendly and helpful and it as a real sense of community.” n “Amazing quality produce and super friendly staff. That’s why I visit every week!” n “Fantastic farm shop. The variety of different food is amazing. Wouldn’t go anywhere else.” n “It has a fantastic range of local produce and unique food and drink.”
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30 family passes up for grabs! WE would never have reached our 30 year anniversary without the support and encouragement of our visitors. From those who came to us and paid us the £1 fee we charged on our opening weekend in 1989 to those who join us now for our most premium events, your support has meant we could grow into a business that not only supports hundreds of staff but also one that has secured the dream of our grandad Charlie. We can hardly believe it ourselves – but through 30 years of constant reinvestment we have become a multi-award winning visitor attraction and was named Best Visitor Attraction in Yorkshire at the last White Rose Awards. We are officially one of the biggest and best farm attractions in the UK, a world of animal magic where thousands of baby animals are born every year. We would love to share our family farm with you – which is why we are giving away 30 farm admission passes to mark our 30th year, and the prize will be won by one lucky winner. To enter, simply fill in this form and drop it in our farm entrance the next time you visit. Name Email address
m I consent to Cannon Hall Farm adding me to the mailing database and sending me emails about news, offers and competitions. Winners will be chosen on August 30, 2019.
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Kids learn a lot down on the farm CANNON Hall Farm is the host farm for Channel Five’s Springtime on The Farm where we celebrate all that is good about British farming. As multiple award winners, we are always striving to add to our offering and education is at the core of what we aim to deliver.. Make the curriculum come alive with a visit around our family farm. Our family have been farming in Barnsley for centuries and have a wealth of experience in delivering educational visits for school groups of any size. We are always trying to improve the experience of our school group visitors and will now be able to offer our school groups handling sessions in our brand new reptile house. For just £5.95 per child, we welcome groups of over 20 children to come and experience life on a working farm. (One free adult for every five paying children) You are met by a tour guide who will help show you and your class the key
things to see around our farm. This will include a session of small animal petting and time for question and answers. Your class can have a handling session with the curious critters in our reptile house - we have everything from leaf cutter ants to hissing cockroaches, chameleons to iguanas and many more exotic creatures that are bound to fascinate the children. Our knowledgeable handlers can help fit the animal visit in with topics you are working on. Building teamwork? You’ll see no-one better than our leaf cutter ants at working as a unit. Discussing colours? Let our chameleon show you how he uses colour to survive in the wild. n To arrange or to ask questions, contact 01226 790427 and ask for Mike or Amanda or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
YOUR day at Cannon Hall Farm will include: n A tour guide to do an educational talk for the children (lasts an hour) n An indoor picnic area for lunch breaks n A daily agenda of activities like sheep and ferret racing, milking demos, meerkat feeding sessions plus Shire Horse talks n A FREE pre visit for four teachers to recce their day and do the required risk assessment n One free supervising adult with every five paying children n 3 for 2 voucher to take home for every child n Use of all play areas (indoor and outdoor)
Key dates for school visits this year n February – May Lambing season – our farmers can talk about the circle of life and the breeding programme we run at the farm. We can also talk about the different breeds of sheep and what their function is. n May – June In summer months, our alpacas and sheep are sheared. The wool is then sent to market to be made into carpets. We can talk about how our wool is used and why we shear. n June – October Our breeding programme means we always have babies to see - piglets, cows, llamas and donkeys. At this time of year, our focus can be on food production, the ethos of field to fork and milking (with demos included.) It can include topics like teamwork, focussing on our leaf cutter ants or even life cycles and evolution. n October – December Our new range of special events means your school group could come and experience a premium event at a fraction of the cost. Ask us now how you can book in early on a schools rate to experience our Christmas experience – where Santa comes down the chimney!
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Time to meet some of our farmyard favourites CANNON Hall Farm is home to hundreds of amazing animals and reptiles – from our faithful dogs who live with us to the animals that are ready to greet the visitors each day. Our animals are always our top priority and our farmers work incredibly hard to ensure they are cared for in the best possible way. As with any job, we have our favourites amongst the animals and so do our visitors. Here’s a small selection of some of Cannon Hall Farm’s most popular animals.
Xander the alpaca XANDER joined us in February – he’s a prize-winning example of the breed, having won prizes at many agricultural shows across the country. Farmer Robert was so impressed with how he looked that he bought him from a fellow farmer. He was named in honour of one of our young farmers, Farmer Alex. The pair became firm friends immediately, and starred in a live broadcast where viewers remarked on their similar hairstyles.
Gary the donkey
Lottie the Shire horse LOTTIE will celebrate her third birthday this Summer and stands at 18 hand tall. She arrived at the farm as a young foal with her mum, Poppy, who tragically died the following year. She is the star of our Shire talks where visitors can get a close up look of her majesty. We’ve been working very hard to halter train her, she’s firm friends with Farmer Ruth and has just been fitted for her first set of shoes. She appears on the Springtime on the Farm TV show with former JLS star JB Gill.
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GARYis an Andalusian donkey who is larger than life – he stands at nearly 14 hands tall, a veritable giant amongst donkeys. He shot to fame after appearing on The Yorkshire Vet with Julian Norton. Poor Gary had the misfortune to have a growth on his private parts and had to have it removed. It was such a TV moment that he ended up being on Gogglebox where we all joined in on shouting GARY at the wince-worthy bits
Ted the Highland
TED is one of the newest editions to the farm. His mum is a rosette winner from the Highland Cattle Society and we bought her in calf from Oban, in the North of Scotland. He was born a month ago and immediately won our hearts because of his beautiful friendly face. He was named Ted because of his resemblance to a cuddly bear – and he’s so popular that we even sell a Ted teddy in our gift shop.
Roger the white bull
Audrey the alpaca AUDREY was very distinctive because her baby teeth never fell out. She had a rather, ahem, distinctive smile. She appeared on the Yorkshire Vet with Julian Norton who performed some special dentistry to fix her problem. Audrey is one of our friendliest alpacas – always ready to show her stunning new smile. She’s just recently had a baby and lives happily in our rare breeds barn.
ROGER is a baby calf that ended up with a cast on his leg after a difficult arrival into the world. He came to us in calf as part of a herd the Nicholson brother’s purchased to surprise Dad Roger. They presented him with a whole herd of shorthorn this April to mark his 60th anniversary at Cannon Hall Farm. Roger’s grandad Charlie had a prize-winning white bull called Sam - also known as Fockerby Ring Leader - and he’d been hoping for another one ever since. The lovely new baby was named after him in his honour. He is already showing early signs of being another champion. The farm hope to take him to the Great Yorkshire Show.
Sadness as we bid fond farewell to our old friend THIS year we bid a sad farewell to our oldest animal – who was so loved he had a play area named after him. Victor the Llama was a firm favourite with visitors at Cannon Hall Farm and was one of the first animals that joined the farm when it opened up to the public in 1989. Although his exact age was not known, he had lived at the farm for well over 20 years and had seen it transform from
a small family business to one of Yorkshire’s favourite visitor attractions. In 2014, when the farm opened up a brand new soft play area and restaurant, we called it The Hungry Llama in honour of Victor as one of Farmer Richard Nicholson’s favourite photos he ever took was of Victor chewing a piece of straw. To this day that image is set as the profile picture on the farm’s Facebook page.
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There’s more to us than just a farmyard EVERY year we host a wide variety of different events with something designed to delight all age groups. Our August bank holiday food festival has something for the whole family. As winners of the Farm Shop and Deli UK retailer of the year award, we know all about amazing food and there’s delicious grub on offer alongside great music at our family friendly festival. Our outdoor tribute events are real crowd pleasers and our Gin, Rum and Real Ale Festival is another feel good event for a summers evening. Our Halloween pumpkin festival is one of the biggest and best in the region. Choose your pumpkin from
our patch, scoop it out and dress up with the kids in spooky style to add to the fun! Meet our wizards and discover our forbidden wood where skeletons point the way to who knows what! Christmas is always a special time down on the farm with Santa visits and the Elves Workshop event, it’s one of our busiest times of the year. Book your Christmas provisions in the farm shop and enjoy some retail therapy picking up last minute gifts. There really is something for everyone down on the farm! Make sure to follow our website and Facebook pages where all the latest event announcements will be made.
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Get event discounts THIS Summer we have an exciting line-up of music tributes, including Pop Star Parties for kids featuring a Little Mix Tribute and one to Ariana Grande and Olly Murs, then in July we make your rock and roll dreams come true with a Meatloaf tribute on our live outdoor music stage. SPECIAL OFFER: Use code GET5OFF online to get £5 per person off our tribute tickets!
Take a paws and visit dog-friendly dining destination WILL Roe was a local farmer who became known to us as Uncle Will. Farmer Roger was a young lad of 16, struggling to make ends meet after his dad had died suddenly in 1958. Neighbouring farmer Will took him under his wing and helped put him on the right track. Will was small in stature but immensely strong with a chin like Desperate Dan, he was a huge influence and help to young Roger. When Will retired he sold off his farming equipment and Roger bought an old trailer as he’d “borrowed it so many times, it owes me nowt.” Along with the trailer, Will trusted Roger with Lassie, his faithful sheepdog. Lassie settled in and Roger liked her so much he decided to have a litter of pups. Lassie gave birth to four pups but it was evident something was wrong and Lassie was taken to the vets. Two pups were born two days after the rest. One was stillborn and another, a pup who became known as Flossie, was very lucky to survive. Although she was lively, friendly and affectionate, as she grew it became obvious that the delay in her birth had left her a little slow to learn. So, rather than the pick of the litter, Roger ended up falling for little Flossie. She was a lovely dog and really looked the part, dropping to the ground and crouching low as soon as she saw a sheep. Steering her in the right direction was sometimes a different matter. Despite her difficult beginning and shortcomings with sheep, Flossie became a much loved part of our family and lived a long and happy life. With Roger’s care and patience she became the trusted partner every farmer needs. Now our dog friendly restaurant, The Lucky Pup provides a welcome for you and your pampered pooch. A place with culinary treats, not just for you but for your dog too.
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