Transforming the goat shed at Wimpole

Thatched farm buildings and farmyard at Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire
Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire National Trust Images / Megan Taylor

Transforming a converted goat shed into a warm and welcoming café has been just one part of the Wimpole Estate’s plans to become truly homegrown.

Gifted to the Trust by Rudyard Kipling’s daughter Elsie Bambridge in 1976, the 17th-century Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire has benefited from a working farm and an abundance of apples for hundreds of years.
Now we're making changes to embrace the spirit of the property’s history as a self-sustainable estate, producing everything from meat and fruit to generating electricity and heat.
The Home Farm Café was initially converted from a goat shed into a cafe, but due to a high ceiling, it had a high rate of heat loss. A new suspended ceiling and insulated roof panels have transformed the space and its energy use. Inside the café, LED light bulbs were installed and inefficient electric storage heaters were replaced by one log burner which runs on timber from the estate. A hot food counter was moved to the centre of the room to provide extra heat.

Beautiful and useful energy

‘The log burner has made such a difference; visitors absolutely love it,’ Jamie said. ‘People come just to sit there and have a cup of coffee and cake.’
With a resulting 12 per cent reduction in energy use, it was estimated that the £240,000 project would take just over a decade to pay back. But Jamie said: ‘In the first eight weeks we increased our café sales by 21 per cent, so the payback will actually be much quicker.’
Further energy savings are being made across the estate – from the stable block visitor centre that greets guests to the restaurant kitchen and hall itself. 

Embracing the spirit of a sustainable past

Jamie said there is still much more to do if they are to achieve their goal of becoming self-sustainable by 2025 and reduce energy consumption by 25 per cent over the next three years.
‘We’re thinking about some very easy ways to make our own electricity, such as putting photovoltaic panels on one of the cow sheds or installing a ground source heat pump. Throughout the centuries the farm would have provided the food and resources to the main house. We’re looking at our story over the last 400 years and saying, if that’s what they did in the past well why can’t we do it now and in the future?’

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