And then there was Lord Allerton.
George William Allies Allerton entered the House of Lords in 1925 and was a Conservative member until his death in 1991. I have written in my auto-biographical Memories in this same blog of my relationship with Dr. Jack Hunt. I started in 1941 as his regular week-end caddy at Peterborough-Milton Golf Club not far from where I lived and as I aged I graduated from caddy to chauffer-caddy and ultimately to chauffer-golf companion. I was a junior member of Luffenham Heath Golf Club in Rutland county not far from Liecester and I played on Sundays with Dr. Hunt, Lord Allerton and one of two doctors from the near-by Luffenham RAF fighter air base. If both doctors showed up I was a caddy but when only one came I got to play. All three were better players than me when we started but later I could compete in the golf and the betting. Allerton, as he liked to be addressed, was very likable and encouraged me with my golf game. He described himself as a farmer but I gradually learned that he had a number of very fine horses and he himself was a frequent judge at International horse shows. I was told by several people that he had been in the RAF as a pilot but I have been unable to verify it anywhere.
Early in 1951, Doris and I agreed to get married. I was 24 and Doris was 23. We had not got an engagement ring and with our financial situation, it looked as though there would not be one. At the time, England had a 95% tax on “Luxury Items”. These included radios, TVs, silver, all kinds of jewelry, yachts, cars as well as some kinds of travel. This meant everything suddenly became twice as expensive. Someone had told us that jewelry in a pawn shop and second hand items in a jewelers was not subject to the tax so we started looking there at week- ends. In April, there is a famous annual horse race at Aintree near Liverpool called the Grand National and the 1951 event was the 105th year it had been run. It is a grueling race over hurdles and water jumps and few horses complete the race. I had received solicitations in the mail to bet on the race and I decided to ‘ave a go as the Cockneys say. I sent off two pounds to bet on Nickel Coin each way at 40 to one. I knew nothing about the horse except that I liked its name. Race day came and I sat with Doris and listened to Raymond Glendenning on the radio calling the race for the BBC. In the early stages, horses were tumbling and jockeys were scrambling away. It got interesting when we heard my horse was still up and running. The excitement culminated when Glendenning said that only two horses were left as they approached the last hurdle, Nickel Coin and Royal Tan. He then shouted excitedly that Nickel Coin is down and while I was swearing at the radio, he came back saying that he was wrong and it was Royal Tan that had fallen. This left my horse trotting to victory and winning me 50 pounds. That week end, we scoured the jewelry stores and discovered a beautiful pearl ring surrounded by small diamonds that we were told was almost 100 years old. We both liked it and I found that I had little of my fifty quid left. The next Sunday, Lord Allerton came back from Ireland where he had been judging the Dublin Horse Show and I told him I had backed the winning horse to which he replied that I obviously told the World how little I knew about horses.
As I got engrossed in college and with our July wedding, I stopped going to Luffenham Heath and saw little of Dr. Hunt and less of Lord Allerton. I have since learned that in 1934 he had bought Loddington Hall which had been owned by Lord Alamour who used the property for hunting and shooting. It was in bad condition when Allerton bought it and he and his wife did extensive renovations. He and Lady Allerton lived there until 1940 when it was confiscated by the Government to house a company of paratroopers. When the war ended, it was unfit to live in and the Allertons moved into the smaller Allerton House on the same property. When Allerton died in 1991, his will left money and property to create a foundation to do research on using land for farming together with simultaneously making it economically available for hunting and sport shooting. It opened as such in 1992 and is thriving today as the Allerton Project.