BHA Biography: The Earl of Bradford
Richard, 7th Earl of Bradford, has lead an enterprising life, and has established himself as a creative and experienced restaurateur, as well as being an expert in the general field of leisure. His wide-ranging interests include the management of his family estates in Shropshire and Devon; this encompasses agriculture, forestry and property interests.
Born, ?The Honourable Richard Thomas Orlando Bridgeman?, he inherited the title ?Earl of Bradford? which was created in 1815, after the death of his much loved father in 1981. He followed family tradition by being educated at Harrow, and then read Agriculture at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a contemporary of the Prince of Wales.
Between school and university, he spent a year teaching mathematics and chemistry in a remote settlement in Northern Ghana with Voluntary Service overseas. He ended up as Senior Chemistry Master at 18, a Junior Housemaster, Football Coach and Dispensary Master – but still managed to catch malaria three times!
In January 1971, he broke his back in a car accident in Australia, which semi-paralysed him for several weeks and kept him in hospital for four months. ?I was one of the few lucky ones there,? he says, ?although my back still troubles me a lot, I was the only person to walk out of the second ward that I was in.?
On June the 19th 1979, he opened ?Porters English Restaurant? ? www.porters.uk.com – aiming to fill a gap that existed in the market for reasonably priced real English food.
Sadly, he had to face up to a bill of ?8 million as a result of his father?s death in 1981 and moved to Shropshire, disposing of all his London interests, apart from Porters, to concentrate on paying off this huge sum. That feat was eventually accomplished in 1986, with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which resulted in his beloved family home, Weston Park, built by an ancestor in 1671, being put into a Charitable Foundation.
He has an active interest in a number of charities and is also past President of the Master Chefs of Great Britain and Chairman of the Restaurant Association of Great Britain, as well as being on the Board of the National Restaurant Association in the USA, the first ever British representative.
His hobbies – when he finds the time – used to include collecting 18th century Dutch engraved glass. At one time he had built up the finest private collection in the world, sadly this was sold to help with the death duty problem. Now he enjoys creating his own websites, gardening, being with his family and, naturally, cooking.