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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/3445
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1795-1990s
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 30 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Peabody Trust
Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes x The 1830 Housing Society
Westminster Housing Trust Limited


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Peabody Trust:
The Peabody Trust has its origins in gifts totalling 500,000 made by an American Citizen, George Peabody, for the benefit of the people of London, the city where he spent much of his adult life. The gift, -which became known as the Peabody Donation Fund - was put into the hands of selected trustees who were to ensure that it should be used to 'ameliorate the condition of the poor' of London. No other stipulations were made, but it was agreed that the provision of cheap, clean housing would best fulfil the intention of the gift. The significance of this gift may be seen in the fact that many claim for Peabody the honour of 'founder of modern philanthropy'. The first housing estate was opened at Spitalfields in 1864 and consisted of 57 dwellings and 9 shops, and today, Peabody estates are an established feature of London life.

The 1830 Housing Society / The Society for the Improvement of the Labouring Classes:
In 1830 Benjamin Wills founded the Labourer's Friend Society. The aim of this society was to promote the granting of small allotments of land to labourers for cultivation in their spare time. Eventually the Society's scope embraced loan funds, clothing clubs and so on. Lord Ashley encouraged the enlargement of the Society into a more powerful body and at a public meeting on 11th May 1844 The Society for the Improvement of the Labouring Classes was formed. Queen Victoria transferred her patronage to this new society which had the Prince Consort as its President and Lord Ashley as a Chairman. The Society declined after 1862 following the completion of the last 'model' as work had been taken over by other organisations in the field. In October 1959, with the grant of a new charter the Society became the 1830 Housing Society, and in 1965 was taken over by the Peabody Trust.

The Westminster Housing Trust Limited:
WHT Ltd was registered as a Public Utility Society for the purpose of erecting 180 flats in Pulford Street, Westminster. The greater part of the site was saved from use for commercial purposes as a result of the activities of the Pulford Street Site Committee. The 32,000 needed for the purchase was almost entirely subscribed by Westminster residents, while grants were made by the Ministry of Health and Westminster City Council. The LCC sold the land below the market price in view of the proposed use of the site. The resulting estate was called the Tachbrook Estate. The WHT was taken over by the Peabody Trust in 1972.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Peabody Trust, including corporate records, financial accounts, personnel records, property records, estate management, plans, photographs, publications, artefacts, seal books, clasp books and legal papers.

Records of the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes, including corporate records; financial records; correspondence; property records; tenants' records; plans; photographs; publications and artefacts.

Records of the Westminster Housing Trust including corporate records; financial accounts; administrative records; legal records; personnel papers; estate management papers; tenants' records; plans; photographs and publications.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged in three subfonds:
ACC/3445/PT: Peabody Trust;
ACC/3445/SIC: Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes;
ACC/3445/WHT: Westminster Housing Trust.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 2018.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in October 1994 and March 1996.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For the records of other housing associations see: Hornsey Housing Trust (ACC/1523), Great Western London Housing Association (ACC/2863) and Sutton Housing Trust (ACC/2983).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
June to August 2010, updated August 2018.

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