Rare moment as new almshouse opens in one of Harrogate's most beautiful and prized squares

The rare opening of a new almshouse in one of Harrogate’s most beautiful and highly prized Victorian squares was marked by a day of celebration.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 1:59 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd October 2021, 2:04 pm
Help for those in need - New almshouses have been opened in the heart of Rogers Square in Harrogate to house residents over the age of 60.
Help for those in need - New almshouses have been opened in the heart of Rogers Square in Harrogate to house residents over the age of 60.

For most of the 150 years since Bradford mill owner George Rogers first gifted this unique form of low-cost social charity housing to the town’s needy, only 12 properties have stood at the heart of historic Rogers Square with its award-winning gardens and summer tea parties.

But now, thanks to a grant from Homes England and funding from the Rogers’ Almshouse Charity, three additional almshouses are now being made available.

Stuart Holland, chair of Rogers’ Almshouses Trustees, said: “Almshouses differ from general social housing providers in that they are run by a charity - in our case all volunteers - who, while not offering care, do provide a degree of pastoral care.

“Accommodation is only provided to people over the age of 60 who can demonstrate a real degree of hardship and they must have a clear link with Harrogate or Bradford.

“Trustees keep in touch with all the residents on a regular basis and make sure their homes are looked after.

“Occasional social gatherings are organised and the local school children sing carols to the residents at Christmas.”

As well as the Harrogate Mayor Coun Trevor Chapman and Deputy Mayor, Coun Christine Willoughby, last week’s opening ceremony saw representatives from Homes England and the Almshouse Association.

Guests were entertained by school children from St Peter’s School across the road who traditionally support residents of the almshouses at Christmas by carol singing and presenting gifts.

Located in a grade 2 listed building built in 1868 with a clock tower decorated with a bust of George Rogers, the newest almshouse was created by converting an old laundry into a new dwelling.

Two other houses have been completely refurbished and will be welcoming three new residents later this month.

Mr Holland said: “It is quite unusual for almshouses organisations to build more dwellings.

“There are now 15 dwellings, run by a board of trustees including the vicar of Christ Church, the vicar of St Peter’s Church and the Dean of Bradford Cathedral.”