MP. lays foundation stone of new home
Gazing through the windows of their present fast-decaying mansion just off the High Road, Whetstone, the “gentlewomen” residents of Woodside Home eagerly watched history being cemented on Saturday afternoon.
For just a hundred yards away, the foundation stone of a new, super ultra-modern £100,000 home was laid by Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, M.P.
The cost of this new building—for 45 “gentlewomen who by reason of age are unable to maintain themselves or to continue an active life” —and its upkeep for years to come, will be met from last week's sensational £317,000 auction bid made for the one-and-a-half acres of ground on which the old mansion now stands, and the £57,000 realised earlier in the year from the sale of another piece of the home's nine acres of land for housing purposes.
And Mr. D. Johnson, chairman of the Charity Trustees, announced that the surplus might be used to build another similar home for elderly married couples. Referring to “our windfall” he said the money raised had given the trustees “the greatest satisfaction” , and paid tribute to the honorary secretary and auctioneer Mr. J. Maunder-Taylor.
Subject for rejoicing
Before laying the foundation stone, Mrs. Thatcher commented on the deal which had rocked the estate business. “It is not often that the high price of land is the subject of rejoicing” she declared, adding that she hoped those who had misgivings about the use to which the one-and-a-half acres might be put—planning permission has been granted for an office block—would be consoled by the way in which the money realised was to be used.
The present 150 year old building, which has dingy corridors and flag-stoned kitchens, and has had to be run on a shoestring budget, she described as a “a housewife's nightmare.”
“And here I must pay tribute to the Matron, Miss J. Fairclough, and the staff for the magnificent way they have carried out their work.” added Mrs. Thatcher.
The new home, which is built on three sides, from one to three storeys to conform to the natural slope of the land, which accommodates 41 single bedrooms, two double bedrooms, a lounge, sitting room, kitchens, staff quarters, and which features central heating, an intricate bell-call system, and the very latest type of lift, will, Mrs. Thatcher said, make a delightful contrast.
“It will give us real pleasure in Finchley to see a really modern home for old folk.”
Still a ‘tight budget’
Most elderly people, she went on, need companionship, privacy, kindliness and independence, and she was sure these would be provided.
After Mrs. Thatcher had laid the stone, with the assistance of general foreman Mr. A. F. Nicholls, prayers of blessing were led by the Rev. G. A. Dunbar, Vicar of the nightbouring St. John's Church, Whetstone. The new building is due to be completed in July next year.
During the afternoon, a word of warning was given by the chairman of the Charity Trustees who stressed that none of the £317,000 would be forth-coming until the purchaser actually obtained possession of the land. This would mean that the present home would continue to be run on a tight budget and he appealed to those interested in the home's welfare to continue their financial support.
Among the guests were the Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress of Finchley, Cr. Capt. and Mrs. C. H. Kitchin, and the Chairman of Friern Barnet Council, Cr. G. H. Elesher, and Mrs. Elesher.
A bouquet was presented to Mrs. Thatcher by 80 year old Miss Francis Wickens, who has resided at the home for 13 years.