Baxter Russell at Crossbasket


49 Crossbasket renovated April 15An extract from “The History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka

1976 – On 21st June 1976 Roosevelt Memorial (Polio) Fund sold Crossbasket Castle and its grounds, with all their ownership over to George Baxter Russell, a religious minded, American businessman absent at 1024 Westport Circle, Youngstoun, Ohio, USA. This was done with the intention of continuing the “James Little Training College” under George Baxter Russell’s supervision.

Due to the previous complex series of transactions, the disposition clarified in the deeds that it did not include the previously sold lodges and satellite houses. This is important as later some distant family members would contest that they had been sold in the first place! George Baxter Russell paid £35,000 on that day for Crossbasket Castle and 27 acres.

I have to say, I think he got an absolute bargain. In todays money (2015), that sum would “only” have been £250,000 and although the building was starting to become run down, to acquire a Castle and 27 acres of beautiful land for that sum, I think was a good deal. Indeed, I think a massive mistake was made there by Roosevelt Memorial (Polio) Fund grossly undervaluing the property and its potential. The Castle and its grounds had tremendous opportunity for some kind of development, even then. It all smacks of “a quick sale being needed.”

Such an oversight leads me to believe that the Roosevelt Memorial (Polio) Fund as a company was dissolved that year and indeed I see no subsequent mention of them in history following 1976.

The Closure of James Little Training College

1977 – On 20th July 1977, a Mrs. Bain had asked the Secretary of State for Scotland “what was the subsidy given in 1976 to help the James Little Training College” which she reported was experiencing financial troubles and asked what help could be given now that the James Little College had announced they would have to close. The Commons exchange, went as follows:

The James Little College is an independent institution. In 1976–77, to avoid the closure of the college in mid-session as a result of a lack of enrolments, my right hon. Friend made an exceptional grant of £25,000 to the college; and further payments will be made this year when the actual deficit for the college’s financial year to 31st July 1977 is known. Despite every effort by the governors of the college and by my Department, I understand that there are only three firm applications for enrolment for 1977–78. In these circumstances the governors have taken the view that closure of the college is inevitable, and they have not asked my right hon. Friend for further financial assistance. Three representations have been received against the closure of the college, but my right hon. friend considers that special action would not be justified unless there is a substantial increase in the demand for places.”

This again lends weight to the Roosevelt Memorial Trust winding up in either 1976 or 77.

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