THE SON of Lord Camrose’s long-serving chauffeur has said that the former newspaper proprietor would be devastated at what is happening with the town’s ground.

David Buckland, whose father Alfred drove First Viscount William Berry around before he even moved to Basingstoke, says that the town, and the Camrose Ground, was very close to the Welshman’s heart.

Speaking exclusively to the Gazette, David said: “It’s very strange how it has gone down over the years, I don’t really understand it.”

According to David, Lord Camrose would tell Basron to “forget” building houses on the site of the former ground. “Do the honourable thing and give it back to the town as a football club,” he continued.

“I would imagine he would like them to respect his wishes, and it should be retained as a football ground until 2053, as he stated in the covenant.

“He would come down very strongly and make his thoughts known, and say this cannot happen.

“I suppose the odds are against it now [staying at the Camrose].

“They are building houses all over the place in Basingstoke without the infrastructure to handle it.

“As someone who travels on the roads all of the time, you can see it becoming more congested by the week or the month.”

Alf was a driver during the First World War, and when the War ended in 1918, he was chauffeuring for a doctor who had William Berry amongst his patients - before he was given a peerage.

“I assume that’s how he got the job,” David continued. “My mother also worked for the Berry’s who were living in Weybridge then.

“He got the job as a chauffeur and as William Berry at that time became more prosperous he got more cars and more chauffeurs, but Dad was always the head chauffeur.

“When Lord Camrose bought Hackwood Park in 1935, Dad moved there.”

David was born on the estate, just outside Basingstoke, in 1938, three years after his mother and father moved there with the Berrys.

He was just one-year-old at the outbreak of World War II, which saw the Canadian army take over Hackwood Park and build a hospital on the south front.

Whilst they did this, Lord Camrose moved to Audley’s Wood.

“Hackwood was our playground, me and my brother.”

Lord Camrose, who had eight children - one of whom married Lord Birkenhead’s daughter, was a “tall, spare man,” according to David.

“He was very imposing and stern looking. We as children were always told to keep out of the way if he was around.

“He was kind, but a very shy man surprisingly for what he was.

“He had very strict rules for the children, they had to behave themselves.

“My mother told me that when he taught the two oldest boys to swim, he just got hold of them and chucked them in the water and said ‘swim!’ He was like that!

“He believed in a lot of health things, he believed in cold showers every morning.”

One of David’s favourite memories of growing up at Hackwood was when Lord Camrose hosted screenings of films before being released to the public. He used to order the film down from London, and Alf would collect them from the station.

“We had the privilege to be allowed to go and see them,” the 81-year-old said.

“We had to be in and seated at the back in these comfortable chairs at about 9 o’clock.

“[Lord Camrose and his associates] all started rolling in with their brandy glasses and their big cigars, all sat down in their comfortable chairs at the front.

“When they were all settled he used to signal to the projector and away we went. That was quite surreal, it was really nice.”

He also remembers when, just a year before Lord Camrose’s death, he put up a big television screen to show Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation to the whole estate.

First Viscount Berry was a fan of all sports - especially Boxing.

Before his Basingstoke days, he would drive around Wales in a lorry, lowering the sides to create a ring, and was friends with all of the biggest stars of the time. He was a keen cricketer, and his family gave money to Methyr Tydfil Football Club - where they were from.

This is where the love of football, and the reason behind giving the now famous Camrose Ground to the town came from.

“It was a valuable piece of ground that he gave to the town. He gave that for the football club, that was what it was, given for football, David continued.

“I don’t understand how it’s ever ceased to be really.”