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Full steam ahead at Henham

PUBLISHED: 10:53 31 July 2009 | UPDATED: 08:23 01 August 2010

LATITUDE may be over for another year but it's full steam ahead for the owners of Henham Park as they look to boost the range of events staged at the site.

LATITUDE may be over for another year but it's full steam ahead for the owners of Henham Park as they look to boost the range of events staged at the site.

A major clean-up operation got under way at the historic estate after the four-day music and arts festival came to a close.

The huge stages and arenas were dismantled as peace and tranquillity was restored to the park's wide open green spaces and its livestock.

Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Thom Yorke had headlined a feast of music, literature, film, dance and theatre over the weekend, with up to 25,000 people on site every day.

And, as festival-goers caught up on their sleep, the owners' thoughts were already turning to the next major event at the site - the Henham Steam Rally in September - and how else the estate can be used.

Hektor Rous, who manages the site on behalf of his family, said: “It's been a real privilege to be able to host Latitude.

“It's an absolute pleasure to see so many people enjoying the park and we're definitely looking at putting on some more events - it would be nice to get a bit of variety, put on some opera or something classical.

“The Steam Rally is coming up, it's a bit of an old favourite and we will have 23,000 people on site - almost as many as at Latitude. I'm really excited about that.”

The 4,214-acre Henham estate - owned by the “Aussie” Earl of Stradbroke, Keith Rous - was up for sale six years ago.

It has been in the Rous family for more than 400 years but had become “a money pit” and Hektor, one of the Earl's 15 children, was sent over from Australia to oversee its sale. The Earl has not been back to the family estate for several years.

But Hektor decided to take on the running of the site and has succeeded in boosting visitor numbers from just 150 a year five years ago to more than 65,000 this year.

“I haven't spoken to my dad since the festival, but I think he is happy with how things are going.

“There's plenty more we would like to do. More people are staying in England for the summer and it's a great time to discover Suffolk.”

He added that sales of his Hektor's Pure and Hektor's Scarecrow real ales, brewed on site, at Latitude had increased four-fold on last year.

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