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Hill purchased the building society's estate agency arm for a nominal £1 in 1994.

Williamson did the negotiating on behalf of Nationwide.

The sedate pleasures of fly-fishing and bird-watching couldn't satisfy Harry Hill for long.

Two years ago he stood down as chairman of estate agency giant Countrywide and settled into retirement in his 17th Century pile in rural Essex.

By the age of 20 he had made £200,000 and moved to East Anglia to become a partner in an estate agency.

I knew then we had something special.' Hill was chairman of Rightmove until 2005.

Hill wanted to be an officer in the Army when he left Barnsley Grammar School.

'But I failed to get into training school for Sandhurst,' he says. It seemed wrong I might have been rejected because I didn't have the right breeding.' Hill claims not to carry a chip on his shoulder and is proud that eldest son, Jonathan, who went to private school, is a Royal Marines major serving in Afghanistan.

'The only thing wrong is the brand did not go far enough,' he says. Perhaps we could have set up a dating service Rightdating - maybe a funeral service Rightfunerals.

I suggested the ideas, but no one took me seriously.' The In-Deed website has no links with Rightmove or Countrywide, but has support from venture capital group 3i, which backed him in his failed £971 million management buyout of Countrywide in early 2007.

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Along the way the firm gobbled up chains including the estate agency arms of Bradford & Bingley and Friends Provident.

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