Two low-rise blocks of 48 studio flats and communal facilities earn an award, honour achievement and offer crucial support for the science campus of Rothamsted Research

  • 16
  • MAY
  • 2018

Award-winning accommodation for visiting students and staff at Rothamsted Research opened formally today in honour of two of the institute’s most illustrious figures whose careers span opposite ends of the past 100 years and represent the broad range of Rothamsted’s interests.

Ronald Aylmer Fisher, an outstanding statistician of the first half of the nineteenth century, revolutionised experimental practice; John Ailwyn Fellowes, 4th Baron de Ramsey, is a farmer who was the Environment Agency’s first chair and a board member of both Rothamsted Research and the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT), which owns the site.

The new Fisher and De Ramsey Courts are two-storey buildings that provide six different styles of accommodation from single rooms to studio apartments to a unit that offers wheelchair accessibility. The studios have their own kitchenettes, and there are common rooms and a communal laundry.

Fisher and De Ramsey Courts  Credit: Rothamsted ResearchOfficial opening of Fisher and De Ramsey Courts: (from left) Peter Oxley, LAT Executive Director; Achim Dobermann, Rothamsted Director and Chief Executive; Lord de Ramsey, farmer and agriculturalist; and Graham Birch, chair of the LAT Board

Lord de Ramsey “cut the ribbon” at today’s ceremony before a large crowd of guests, current board members and staff: “One looks with admiration at the choice of young people who are going to take on the mantle be able to be involved in nurturing that is a real treat for me.

“It’s not very often in life that one gets the chance to be involved, and then to have your name on it as well. This is an honour, to have our family name here, on site, alongside Russell, Lawes and Gilbert; that’s more important to me than being a member of the House of Lords, and I really mean that,” added de Ramsey.

“On behalf of the Fisher family, the Fisher Memorial Trust committee is delighted that this new accommodation block has been named in honour of R.A. Fisher, the first statistician at Rothamsted, appointed in 1919,” said Andrew Mead, a current Rothamsted statistician and FMY committee member.

Fisher and De Ramsey Courts  Credit: Rothamsted ResearchRonald Fisher, appointed in 1919 as Rothamsted's first statistician, stayed 14 years

Mead added: “The centenary of Fisher’s appointment, and the contribution of Rothamsted scientists to the development of modern statistical science, will be celebrated during the International Biometric Society Channel Network Conference being held at Rothamsted in July 2019.”

The new accommodation has been awarded a Certificate of Merit by the Harpenden Society for the quality and finish of its construction. Phil Waters, the society’s chair, presented the certificate to Graham Birch, chair of the LAT board.

The development cost around £4.5 million, provided mostly by LAT with support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which funds the strategic research programmes at Rothamsted and other associated resources. Rothamsted Manor previously housed students; it is now an events venue.

“The primary purpose of the buildings is to accommodate staff and students of Rothamsted,” says Peter Oxley, LAT’s Executive Director and Company Secretary. “As part of LAT’s Objects, we support Rothamsted by providing cost-effective accommodation to enable those on scientific salaries to be able to live and work in Harpenden, which is a high cost area.”

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.