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Sixty Years of Progress 1957 - to date

 

 

 

Bradford Flower Fund Homes was founded in 1957 by the late Ernest Marriott M.B.E., M.M., J.P. It was in September of the previous year that Helen and Ernest’s elder son, Geoffrey, had been tragically killed in a car crash when returning from his honeymoon. The family were inundated with floral tributes and Ernest was reminded of an idea he had seen in Sweden whilst on a business trip two years earlier. Its aim was to provide a means of honouring the memory of our loved ones in a way that was both worthy and enduring by turning quickly fading tokens of sympathy into small homes which elderly folk could afford to live in.

On 19 March 1957, the Telegraph & Argus reported that Bradford Old People’s Welfare Committee had approved the setting up of such a scheme proposed by Mr Marriott. A sub-committee composed of leading citizens was appointed to progress this proposal and at its first meeting on 13 May that year an organisation which was to be called Bradford Flower Fund Homes was established.

An inaugural luncheon was held at the Midland Hotel on 4 December 1957, chaired by Sir Kenneth Parkinson. Among the many distinguished guests present were the then Bishop of Bradford, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury and then Lord Coggan before his death in 2000 at the age of 90. The Bishop spoke in support of the scheme, which aimed to raise funds by attracting legacies, but primarily through the making of donations in lieu of flowers at funerals - an entirely new concept in fund raising at that time.

In addition to the Bishop, Mr W.G.K. Ford (Free Church Moderator), Mr O.M. Stroud (a prominent member of the Jewish community), Mr O.B. Stokes (Editor of the Telegraph & Argus) and Ernest Marriott were appointed Vice Presidents.

Mr Marriott, who was the first Chairman of the Flower Fund Homes, was ably supported in those days by a Management Committee which, as well as Sir Kenneth and Mr Stokes, included many other well known local names such as Mr R.S. Bishop (the City Coroner), Mr J.J. Cullingworth (Wool Merchant), Mr J.H. Denham (Chairman of the Halifax Building Society), Mr E. Morley (a prominent Architect), Mr J.H. Raby (a Chartered Surveyor) and Judge H.G. Suddards. Invaluable assistance was also given by many leading companies including the Arndale Property Trust, Bradford & Bingley Building Society, Brown Muff & Co. Ltd., Hammond Suddards, KPMG, Lund Humphries and W.N. Sharpe.

The idea caught the imagination of the people of Bradford and it was an immediate success. Within a little over three years sufficient funds had been accumulated to open the first estate named Flower Bank in Kings Road, comprising fourteen purpose built bungalows in a landscaped setting. The site was originally leased from Bradford Corporation at a peppercorn rent and the Flower Fund has since acquired the freehold.

Only four years later, following the purchase of a large private house, Astbury, in Harrogate Road, a second estate was established comprising nineteen bungalows built in the delightful gardens surrounding the house, which itself had been imaginatively converted into six self-contained flats. Named Flower Garth, this development was officially opened by Mrs Jean Coggan, wife of Dr Donald Coggan former Bishop of Bradford in September 1964.

During the next few years, news of the success of the enterprise spread and enquiries were received from organisations throughout the length and breadth of the country. Similar schemes were started in many different places including Aireborough, Bingley, Bristol, Elland, Halifax, Horsforth, Huddersfield, Keighley, Manchester, Scarborough, Skipton, Southampton and Spen Valley.

Early in 1965, as a result of an extremely generous donation by Mrs Gladys Reddiough, in memory of her late husband, Beech Mount in Baildon was acquired and renamed Flower Mount. This beautiful house was converted into nine flats and subsequently twenty three bungalows were constructed in carefully selected parts of the estate, many of them being donated in memory of former Bradford people whose names are inscribed in the stonework. Perhaps prompted by Mrs Reddiough’s generosity, a number of other substantial gifts were received during the early building work at Baildon.

It was about this time in 1965 that the death of Sir Winston Churchill occurred and a suggestion was made in a letter to the Telegraph & Argus that a bungalow should be built as a memorial to this unique statesman. A special appeal was launched and hundreds of gifts came in from far and near enabling a pair of semi-detached bungalows to be built, in Yorkshire stone, overlooking the main lawn at Flower Mount in Baildon.

In 1970, the Local Authority again helped in the expansion of the Flower Fund Homes by agreeing to the lease of a plot in Haworth Road where twenty three bungalows were built, all on the level and within walking distance of shops, medical centre and other amenities. This was called Flower Haven and was opened by the Earl of Rosse in November 1971. Again, the Flower Fund has since purchased the freehold.

A fifth site was soon being actively considered, and in 1980 Westwood, in Heaton, was purchased and an initial development commenced. Work at Flower Hill continued, as funds became available, and the construction of two blocks of flats in this idyllic environment immediately adjacent to Heaton Woods brought the number of homes on this site to fifty one.

In 2000/01 the Fund purchased a small site in Leeds Road, Eccleshill where four bungalows and a block of six flats were built which, on completion, were opened by the then Lord Mayor Councillor Stanley King. The project was named Flower Court.

Early in 2005 the Fund purchased the site of a disused public house known as the Crimshaw in Gaisby Lane, Bolton Woods. Again, this was a small site but with careful design the Architects were able to accommodate eleven bungalows in a rectangular layout which has been named Flower Croft. This was the seventh project carried by the Fund and incorporated all the best design features achieved over our first fifty years. Flower Croft was opened by the MP for Shipley Mr Philip Davies on 25 September 2006.

The Flower Fund Homes now owns the freehold of all its seven estates, the total number being 165, and there is always a long waiting list for this sought-after accommodation.

Steady expansion over these past sixty years has been due to the generosity of a great many local people. As a result of the time and expertise freely given to this worthy project by willing volunteers, administration costs are kept at a very modest level indeed. The Board of Directors believes that the need is no less great today than it was sixty years ago to assist the elderly to be independent and to enable them to enjoy their retirement in attractive surroundings.

Chris Wood
Chairman

 
 
 

  |Registered Charity No. 227170 - Company Registered in England No. 601785

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