Express & Star

Ex-Judas Priest guitarist's Bridgnorth stately home and golf course up for sale after falling into administration

Ex-Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing's golf-course-dream may be over after administrators put his course and stately home up for sale for £10 million.

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The metal legend bought Astbury Hall near Bridgnorth in 1985 and has since developed a top-of-the-range 18-hole course within its grounds, with the ambition of hosting the Open Championship.

Now four of his businesses have been forced into administration and his golf course and estate put up for sale.

The course and hospitality will stay open during the administration, but is up for sale for £10 million as administrators attempt to maximise returns for creditors.

KK Downing, left, on stage with Judas Priest

Administrators said the move was because of "tougher economic times within the wider corporate hospitality market" which put pressure on the company's cash flow.

Mr Downing said he had taken a loan out as he looked to build a hotel, and had been "taken aback" at the lender not being more flexible over repayment.

He still hopes to be able to regain control of the estate and course, but administrators are legally bound to get the best value for creditors from the assets.

Mr Downing, known as Ken, said: "We have had a fantastic season, things were going really well. We had plans for a hotel that we were doing really well with. Obviously there was a necessity for a funding element.

"The company took out a short term mezzanine fund in early August to take us through to March. This was essentially to bring in professional architects and a team from London. Everything was in place as far as we were concerned.

"Unfortunately about six weeks into the loan we were served a short-term notice about breaches.

"We are at the moment looking to re-finance that loan. We were taken aback that the funder was not more flexible with us as partners.

"Obviously the Astbury is an extremely valuable asset and we have to be cautious and careful. We are on the case.

"This isn't anything to do with owing money. We are still open for business and are operating."

The story goes that Mr Downing developed his passion for golf after being challenged to a round by fellow rock stars Def Leppard while on tour.

He and fellow Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton would climb into taxis while on tour and ask the driver to take them to the nearest course so they could play ahead of gigs in the evening.

He was developing a top-class course at the estate.

Darren Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion, was appointed a "global ambassador" for the course in 2011 to try to drum up interest in making it a competitive venue for the world's top players.

Alastair Massey, joint administrator and partner at FRP Advisory, said: “Astbury Hall is a finely preserved, working English stately home steeped in history and the Astbury is a top-notch, uniquely designed golf course, stretching across more than 300 acres of rolling Shropshire countryside.

"The administration process provides a cushion for the estate to run as normal while the business, including this historic house, the associated golf course and events business are all marketed for sale. We encourage interested parties to make early contact.

"The estate will continue to run as normal through the administration process and the number of bookings which the Astbury continues to make is a testament to the popularity of the hall, the golf course, its grounds and the catering on offer, all supported by its professional team of staff.”