Nine of them are in temporary quarters while The Working Horse Trust tries hard to find a new base for the horses. Their plight has been highlighted in South East Farmer before and there was a tremendous response.

But unfortunately the offers were not quite the right kind of large ex livestock building which the trust, a small charity, is looking for. “Most of those sorts of buildings which need smartening up have been converted into light industrial or something else,” said Jo Ambrose, chair of the trustees.

Apart from a lack of suitable buildings, the trust has had to face other difficulties. It had to quit its current building on the Eridge Park estate by 30 September with no prospect of finding a suitable replacement. So all the equipment has been put in store and the horses re housed temporarily, many with woodsmen who can use them for logging.

The trust has been a tenant of the estate since 1993/4 and had been operating on five yearly farm business tenancies. Then the agreement was changed to an annual one, and after a couple of years the estate gave notice that it would no longer be renewed.

Over the years, the trust invested about £100,000 in the estate building and its open plan arrangement suited the horses well. “What we need is someone who has come out of dairy and beef and has a suitable building. What we have been offered is small 12 by 12 loose boxes in a livery yard, but we cannot shoe horn ourselves into that arrangement.”

The trust has another difficulty: it cannot go anywhere in search of the right building because although its registered office is in Surbiton, its band of volunteer supporters are in the area of East Sussex bordering on to west Kent. So a new building has to be in this area.

Speaking before the 30 September deadline, Ms Ambrose said: “The plan is to get over these last few frantic days and then take stock. We will resume our search for a building in earnest for the next six months and then see if there is something in our sights – or will we have to make the hard decision that this will not happen and we’ll have to wind up.”

The trust has enough money to refurbish a building and the horses have regular work: for example, there is a contract with Wakehurst Place in West Sussex to do land work and another contract with East Sussex county council for rolling bracken. Anyone who can help should telephone Ms Ambrose on 0208 3907351.