An Almshouse charity is gearing up to celebrate 100 years of providing welfare for people in Uxbridge.
Uxbridge United Welfare Trusts, formerly Uxbridge United Charities, was formed in 1906, when a number of charities in Uxbridge which supported poor people, joined together.
One of the first actions of the trust was to replace the old almshouses in Windsor Street, Uxbridge, where Uxbridge Post Office later stood for many years, then offices.
A replacement almshouse was built in New Windsor Street, with 20 flats at a cost of £3,000.
The house is still in operation today, renamed Woodbridge House in the 1980s in recognition of the long involvement of the Woodbridge family in the trust.
The Woodbridge family have practised law in Uxbridge for more than 200 years, with Woodbridge Partnership solicitors based in Windsor Street.
In a 1914 will Charles Woodbridge bequeathed £100 to provide coal for the inmates of Uxbridge almshouses.
When the almshouse was first established, people living there were paid a pension of two shillings a week. Now inhabitants pay a maintenance contribution, but the trust’s mission remains the same.
Chairman of the trustees Sue Pritchard said: “It’s always been a charity to look after people in almshouses.
“They’re people that are in need of housing and have strong connections with Uxbridge or have lived in the area for a long time.
“It’s still very similar to how it was when it was set up, it’s just the people and the grants which have changed – you used to get people who had run out of coal, now we help people buy school uniform or a new washing machine.”
The house takes in single people over the age of 60 and makes them part of a safe, secure and happy community.
As well as running Woodbridge House, the trust gives out about £50,000 a year in grants, mainly to individuals who are in need.
Mrs Pritchard said: “We help with organisations like the scouts and we give money to local projects such as scanner appeals.
“We try hard as a charity to help individuals, to benefit that person in the best way possible.”
The committee of 11 volunteers who run the trust hold the ancient title of Lords in Trust of the Manor and Borough of Uxbridge.
This title was created in 1729 for trustees responsible for collecting tolls from Uxbridge town market and rents from various properties and lands around Uxbridge, and using the money for the benefit of the town.
The committee members traditionally choose their successors and in 1906 they became part of the new United Uxbridge Charities.
As well as running the almshouses and distributing grants the trust also employed the Uxbridge town crier, a hogherd and the keeper of the pound, responsible for rounding up stray animals.
The trust owns many properties in Windsor Street, including the Queen’s Head pub, Wendy’s hairdressers and Barnard’s book shop, the rents from which help raise much of its funds.
On July 8 a new hall for communal use was opened by Uxbridge MP John Randall at Woodbridge House, just one of many improvements added over the years.