Chipping Barnet. Thomas Watson Cottage Homes

Colin Wilson

The entrance gates to Thomas Watson Cottage Homes. May 2017
Colin Wilson
The name stone for Thomas Watson Cottage Homes. May 2017
Colin Wilson
The date stone for Thomas Watson Cottage Homes. May 2017
Colin Wilson
The former warden's house at Thomas Watson Cottage Homes. May 2017
Colin Wilson
Colin Wilson
The communal hall at Thomas Watson's Homes. Note the dedication stones in the centre. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
The dedication stone on the Communal Hall. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
The foundation stones, centenary memorial and WWI memorial on the Communal Hall. Mar 2023
One of the original cottages on the southern side. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
Colgate Court, on the eastern side of the site. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
The Jubilee Court buildings on the south eastern corner of the site. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
The gardens provide a peaceful place to live. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
The remains of the original gate, with the new gate in the distance. Mar 2023
Colin Wilson
OS 25" map VLV.7 pub 1936 showing Albion Place and Thomas Watson Cottage Homes
Courtesy of Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

This not so much an almshouse as a developing estate of almshouses, specifically for the benefit of those linked with the haulage industry. The almshouse group is tucked away at the end of Leecroft Road, peacefully secluded but fairly close to local shops and activities. The view to the south makes you think you are in the countryside, the lay of the land hiding any housing development.

Thomas Watson, who died in 1910, headed up the firm of Sutton & Co. It was not he but his two daughters, Annie and Florence, who founded the first almshouses in 1914 in his memory. They also made a significant bequest, which in 2019 terms would amount to about 4 million pounds. The family connection was still valid a century after the foundation as Jenny Harold was the chairman. She was cousin to his great-great-grandchildren.

The development was that 11 cottages plus the communal hall were built in 1914. Colgate Court was built in 1996 at the eastern end of the site, consisting of 11 flats plus a guest flat. In 2011 another 8 cottages, named Jubilee Cottages, were built to the north and south of Colgate Court (5 to the south and 3 to the north). Colgate Court and Jubilee Cottages were funded from the sale of land. At any rate, reports are that the buildings are well appointed. The buildings are sited around a lawn with flower beds and trees, with a sundial in the middle. The site is behind security gates.

As well as the dwellings there is an impressive communal hall in which activities take place, assisted by an events manager. There are a few memorial stones in front of the communal hall. The original dedication stone and a World War I memorial from the Company’s offices are on the wall. A centenary commemoration stone stands in front.

The remains of a wooden gate exist in Leecroft Road; they indicate the original northern boundary. The building next to the entrance gate was used by the warden (now titled the Sheltered Housing Manager) but is currently occupied by the previous postholder as the current person lives off site.

The beneficiaries were accepted from priority lists, starting with ex Sutton employees and broadening in stages to anyone involved in the carriage of freight. Length of service was another consideration. In 1991 qualification was extended to spouses.

Funding is largely from the weekly maintenance contributions, which averaged at just over £7000 a year each in 2019. It does not rely on volunteers or gifts in kind.

Unfortunately most of the minutes books were lost in a fire at the Company’s offices during World War II.

The homes are affiliated with The Almshouse Association, and registered with the Charity Commission. The Charity was established in 1913. The charity of Annie Lucy Watson was established in 1937. The two charities were combined in 1980. This information and details of later amendments can be found in the accounts lodged on the Charity Commission website.

My thanks are due to Jeremy Alford, clerk to the trustees, for his help with information and allowing photos to be taken on site.


Leecroft Road, Barnet
OS 25″ map Hertfordshire XLV.7, published 1936, shows the layout of the cottages
Georef:      524076 195993
Gridref:     51o 38′ 57″N   0o 12′ 30″W


Barnet & Hadley Almshouses, by W H Gelder
Pages 50-51. Includes some photographs of the estate
Barnet Press Group 1979

Websites accessed March 2017 The article by Nick Jones includes notes by Robin Bishop and a few photographs. is a further article by Nick Jones relating the 2014 centenary celebrations. This site includes the published accounts.

This page was added on 30/03/2021.

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