Although little known, Sloswicke’s Almshouse Charity is one of Retford’s oldest institutions having been established in 1658 by the Will of a local philanthropist, Richard Sloswicke of East Retford, ‘for the maintenance of six poor old men of good carriage and behaviour to the end of the world’. The Will required that his dwelling-house should be made into an hospital to accommodate the six poor pensioners. Subsequent bequests and mergers expanded the Charity to 41 properties with five more currently under construction on Union Street.
The Charity’s properties are available to those aged 60 or over, with strong Retford connections and with needs that can be addressed by joining the community of Sloswicke’s residents and benefiting from affordable, well maintained and appropriate town centre accommodation.
The Charity is run by a Board of volunteer Trustees who work hard, without remuneration, to deliver the aims of the Charity. There are five Trustees who all have specific roles to play. Robert Lamb has been a Trustee for 37 years and took over as Chairman in 2002 recently retiring from the role whilst remaining a Trustee. In his place a fellow Chartered Surveyor, Tim Shuldham, who has been a Trustee since 2002, was appointed Chairman. There are two Housing Trustees with Julie Shuldham who runs The Hive Self Storage business in Hallcroft and Jackie McGuinness who is a senior Operational Manager with Age UK, and a Welfare Trustee Anne Kay, who has a background as an Educational Psychologist.
In Robert Lamb’s twenty years as Chairman he has had a huge impact on the Charity, not least by adding a total of 15 dwellings to the portfolio. This is put into perspective when you realise it took 360 years to get to 31 properties and only 20 years to increase this by 48% to 46 properties! At the same time the existing stock of accommodation has been greatly improved and whilst there will always be issues to address with the older properties the standard of the accommodation is very high.
Historically the Trustees have been assisted by a “Clerk” responsible for the day to day management, a post filled for the last 100 years or so by a local Solicitor. We know that in the late 1950s Col.H.J.Thompson was the Clerk with an annual salary of £20!
In 2018 management of the property aspects was taken on by Fisher German of Doncaster, and using local and trusted contractors as necessary can manage the Charity’s property effectively. Following the recent resignation of the Clerk, Fisher German are now taking on the administration of the Charity with the book-keeping having been moved to Wright Vigar Accountants in Retford.
There are four blocks of property belonging to Sloswicke’s, starting with Protestant Place, a row of listed cottages originally built for the Huntsman family in 1826. The site adjoined the former High School for Girls later to become the Elizabethan Academy, and when this moved to Hallcroft in 2007 the site was developed for Housing, and the Trustees took the opportunity to buy Woodcock’s Cottage from the builders who built Elizabethan Gardens, together with the access from Queen Street which now provides limited car parking. This together with Bettisons Wharf which adjoins the Chesterfield Canal, provides a gated complex of 11 properties.
Next there is the original site of Sloswicke’s Hospital, Churchgate opposite St Swithun’s Church in the Town centre. This is a gated complex of 12 properties having a central listed building dated circa 1806 with interesting Gothic Windows, an additional pair of houses added in 1819, a block of four self-contained flats built in the 1980’s and another pair of cottages backing on to the Churchgate Car Park. The site is near Retford Library, the Market Square and nearby Riverside Health Centre.
Opposite the well-known listed Art Deco style Majestic Theatre built in 1925 is Hawksley House purchased by the Trustees in 2006. Built for a local Doctor and his family as a private dwelling house with integral consulting rooms in 1905, this building then became offices for Jacksons Accountants which the Trustees decided to demolish and redevelop the site as a block of nine flats. The building was completed and occupied in 2009, and has retained the name and several features from the original building such as the stone mullion windows and the impressive stone entrance.
Finally there is the block of nine cottages on Union Street shortly to become 14 following the acquisition by the Trustees of a former joinery shop in 2017. The garden has been re-landscaped to provide level surfaces including a scooter store, and the new development will extend the terrace of cottages by a further three units, plus a pair of semi-detached small bungalows to the rear. East Retford Corporation built the Corporation Almshouses in 1823 solely for the occupation of women. The building was restored in 1983 and transferred to Sloswicke’s, and all property is now available for single men or women or married couples.
For details visit: www.sloswickes.co.uk