PM, opens flats for the elderly
Years of effort and anxiety finally ended last week as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opened a £500,000 housing development in Woodside Park Road, North Finchley.
The new Speedwell House, which will provide rented accommodation for 29 senior citizens, was first considered in 1973. But the people behind the venture were made to wait just a little longer when Mrs Thatcher turned her back on the assembled dignitaries to chat with pupils and teachers from Holmwood School on the other side of the road. She later apologised for the delay and said: “I just couldn't resist going to talk with them.”
First tenants of the Speedwell Housing Society moved into the original house in 1948. Mrs Thatcher pointed out that until boundary alterations, the building had stood in her constituency but was now the responsibility of Chipping Barnet MP Sydney Chapman, who was also at the opening. She said: “I can remember going round the old house and going home rather worried about the safety of residents if there was an emergency.”
Mrs Thatcher thought that eight years was too long for such a project to be completed, but said: “Now that the new house is built I can see that the effort has been totally rewarding. We know just how many people want to come to live here. I have always been impressed by the tremendous degree of friendliness and warmth in places like this.” She praised the society as “a wonderful organisation.”
After unveiling a plaque in the hallway, the Prime Minister visited Miss Elsie Taylor and Mr William Salter and his wife, Vera, in two of the flats.
The Rev. David Viles, chairman of the Speedwell Housing Society, said that it was a very happy day for them. Mr John Robinson, who is soon to relinquish his position as treasurer, described the occasion as “the culmination of years of anxiety and tribulation.” He recognised the help given by Barnet Council and the Department of the Environment. “It would not have been possible without Government subsidies,” he said.