The Thrale Almshouses

by Paul Lehman

Have you ever walked down Polworth Road and seen an idyllic courtyard of old houses, which seems out of place in the bustle of Streatham? Or perhaps you’ve walked there recently and seen a major building development taking place.

The site is owned by the Thrale Almshouse and Relief in Need charity, whose history in the local area can be traced back to 1584, and is named after the Thrale family, who were friends of Samuel Johnson.

The charity’s main function is to manage almhouses for women over 60 on Polworth Road. The buildings there date back to the 1930s. Although outwardly attractive, they became increasingly outdated inside in recent years and, in spite of the shortage of affordable housing in the area, the charity found it difficult to find people who wanted to live there. So it has embarked on a £3m development of the site, to create new, affordable homes, fit for the 21st century.

The old buildings are being retained, gutted, enlarged and refitted inside to create homes for 8 people. There will also be two new buildings at the front and back of the site, with homes for 9 people, including two which are being specially adapted for women with limited mobility. In the middle, there will be a private courtyard and garden, so the peace and tranquillity of the old almshouses will be retained.

The new buildings are expected to be finished this spring.

But the charity’s activities are not restricted to housing – it has an endowment from which it makes grants to organisations in Streatham and the local area. Recently, it awarded grants to Lambeth Mencap to support their work with older carers, to the Nehemiah Project, to assist their work to in helping ex-offenders rehabilitate and transform their lives, to Solace Women’s Aid to help keep children and young people safe and secure, and to Spires. In the past, it has also helped causes such as Emmaus, the Streatham Youth and Community Trust and the British Home.

The charity’s ethos is about supporting communities – whether it is providing a sense of community for residents of the almshouses who might otherwise suffer from loneliness, or helping other organisations who make a real difference to the communities they serve.

It looks forward to transforming the lives of many more people in the years to come.

If you are interested in finding out about the accommodation at the Thrale Almshouses or applying for a grant, please email [email protected]