By December 12th, the deadline set for final offers, we had raised £15k. A great achievement in just 7 weeks but we knew we hadn't enough to buy a single lot let alone the whole site. So we had nothing to lose, we would put a bid in anyway!
We aimed high! LOT 1: The eastern half of Eston Nab plus 45 acres of wooded hillside priced at £80k. To try and buy the top of the mountain, the famous Teesside landmark, the ancient bronze age and iron-age site with beacon monument and the finest views across Teesside going...how could we not??? And imagine the publicity if we pulled it off.......
The bid went in along with a letter explaining that buying the historic summit would massively boost our chances of landing big funding to develop the project. We didn't make it public because people knew how much we had in the kitty from our website and we didn't want to be outbid. And also, if we were successful, what a surprise it would be for people! We had a slim chance but it was a chance nonetheless...and optimism won the day!
A week before Xmas, the Land Agent called me and told me how the owner had a lot of respect for what we had tried to do and that we had ran an excellent campaign etc. I sensed there was a 'but' coming and he goes 'Obviously we can't sell you 45 acres for that amount...but we could sell you the top section?' I couldn't believe what I was hearing. We were being offered Eston Nab for 15 grand! I was stunned. We bit his hand off and vowed amongst ourselves not to breathe a word until the deal was done. Nothing could be allowed to scupper it.
We needed a solicitor fast - and for free as we had no more money! We approached Martin L. Grove in Eston and they were only too pleased to offer their services on the house as it was such a special community case. And so, after three months of legal process and keeping tight-lipped, the historic sale has gone ahead ! We, The Friends of Eston Hills, have bought a plot of land at Eston Nab (2.74 acres) on behalf of the people and it will stay in public ownership FOREVER !
So, on behalf of the group, big thanks to everyone who put their hands in their pockets, who did sponsored walks, put on benefit gigs, sold raffle tickets, sold books of Eston hills poetry and 500 Eston hills calendars. Special thanks to the (previous!) owner who wishes to remain anonymous and who went out of his way to accomodate us. And last but not least, to Marie Hickley and Martin L Grove who gave their time and legal expertise for free. It is amazing what people can do when they pull together for the benefit of everyone! Give yerselves all a big pat on the back !
Craig Hornby & The FOEH