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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

Proposed Model Dwellings for the Poor, in connection with the Duck Lane Club, Westminster

page 564

Proposed Model Dwellings for the Poor, in connection with the Duck Lane Club, Westminster.

It is a fact generally known that during the past five years a large number of the poor houses in Orchard Street, Duck Lane, Old Pye Street, and the adjacent courts in "Westminster, have been swept away by the Improvements, but it is not so generally known, that no provision has been made for the poor occupants, who are either refused admission into the model lodging houses recently erected, on account of their street occupations as costermongers, hawkers, grinders, &c., or are unable to pay the required rents, which are within the means only of the well paid mechanic or artisan. They are thus driven to wander in the streets or to become inmates of a workhouse, when they are unable to find shelter in the few poor houses left to them, which are destitute of every convenience, ill supplied with water (perhaps one small cistern to six or eight houses!) and badly ventilated, where whole families are compelled to live and sleep in one small room, to the destruction of all morality and decency.

In March next, further improvements will sweep away the Duck Lane Club, which has been in operation four years and a half, and twice enlarged during that time, and has by the Divine blessing effected so great a change in the characters of the poorest and most degraded who are its members. Here may be seen nearly 200 men quietly passing an hour or two nightly, reading the newspapers or books from the Library, or improving themselves by means of the Classes or Lectures, while their little savings are taken care of in the Penny Bank, the Loan Society, the Temperance Sick and Burial Society, or the Barrow Club (for enabling the poor costermongers to purchase instead of hiring their barrows,) all of which as well as the Club are managed by the men themselves, and have proved of great benefit to the wives and families.

It has been felt that an effort must be made to prevent these valuable Societies from being broken up, and the men left to fall back into their original intemperate habits, and a piece of freehold ground 120 feet by 55 in Old Pye Street and Little St. Ann's Lane has been secured and the purchase money, amounting to £2260 has been paid.

On part of this ground, the new Club will be erected and on the other portion, but distinct from the Club, it is proposed to build a dwelling house of five stories, fire proof, with a plentiful supply of water and well ventilated, sufficiently large to accommodate about sixty families of the poorest classes, the preference being given to the members of the Club and the parents of the poor children attending the "One Tun" Schools.

Several contracts have been received and the lowest tender, from Mr. Brass, of Chelsea, amounting to £6600, has been accepted, and the works commence today, to be completed on the 1st March, 1866.

The total cost of the freehold and buildings will be £8860—towards which £1300 wall be received as compensation for the Duck Lane Club, leaving the sum required £7560, which it is desired to raise by donations or subscriptions.

Two objects will thus be attained; first, the poorest classes will be enabled to have two comfortable rooms for 3s. per week, only a trifle more than they are now paying for one wretched one; and secondly, the surplus rents, after deducting the usual expenses of superintendence, taxes, water (a continuous supply,) gas and repairs, would be applied towards the support of the Poor Men's Club and the page 565 "One Tun" School, which at present cost nearly £300 per annum: and which is contributed by benevolent friends in donations and subscriptions.

The whole has been invested in six trustees and a deed of trust has been executed for securing the carrying out of this object.

Donations or subscriptions will be gladly received by Miss Adeline M. Cooper, 78, Coleshill Street, Eaton Square, London, S.W.