Dell Farm Residential Education Centre has a long and very interesting history.
This is a photograph of the farm in 1915 but there are records to suggest the farm has been occupied since early in the 19th Century. Mr John Sutton died in 1795 and left the farm in his will to Isaac Dell. It has had a number of tenant farmers throughout the years but in 1915 it was let to Mr James Haines who later bought the farm.
The farmhouse was described as a “superior residence” of brick and stucco with a slate roof. It comprised five bedrooms with, on the ground floor, a dining room, a drawing room, a kitchen, a pantry and store cupboards. There was also a cellar.
A well-house stood outside in a paved yard with a coal barn and washhouse. Visiting groups can still see the well which is now integral to the house and although it is no longer functional it provides a variety of opportunities for learning.
Records suggest that there were many farm buildings and other adjoining buildings on the site including the building we now call our Day Barn.
In 1967 Dell Farmhouse and about 30 acres were bought for £12,000 by Luton Borough, who subsequently sold 20 acres to The National Trust. The council used the farm as an Educational Activity Centre as part of their Youth Service, with children staying in overnight accommodation, mainly camping at £1 10s a head for a week. When Luton Borough was abolished in 1974 ownership passed to Bedfordshire County Council. In the early 1970s the dormitory block for the children was extended. Activities included Field Studies, ornithology, conservation and orienteering.
When Luton became a Unitary Council in 1997 the farm passed back into its ownership. It is now managed and operated by Active Luton as a Residential Education Centre.