Famous faces from C&C’s past: Lord Harold Samuel
With C&C having recently turned 95, we are running a series of articles about our rich history and mission to help house Londoners. Last time, we focused on our founder Ada Chesterton, who set the ball rolling. But Harold Samuel’s contribution to what is now C&C cannot be understated. For it was he who ultimately put the ‘Central’ in ‘Central and Cecil’.
Born in Finchley in April 1912, Harold Samuel was the son of Vivian, a master jeweller, and Ada. The young Harold was educated at Mill Hill School before initially training to be a surveyor, receiving qualifications from the College of Estate Management in London’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
In 1944, with war still raging and indeed impacting upon many Cecil Homes in Central London, Harold acquired Land Securities Investment Trust Limited who, at the time, were a small company owning just three modest properties in Kensington, along with some government stock. The company today is known as Landsec, and is the largest property company in Europe.
Following the war, Harold capitalised on the opportunity presented by the redevelopment of affordable bomb sites, creating properties in Plymouth, Exeter, Hull, Coventry and Bristol. He soon established Land Securities as one of the leading companies on the London Stock Exchange.
Harold’s reputation as an astute businessman, coupled with his public and charitable work, led to him receiving a knighthood from the Queen in 1963.
But there was more to come. Keith Joseph, who had a successful spell as Minister for Housing and Local Government between 1962-64 before becoming spokesman on Social Services in opposition, approached the new Sir Harold about the growing social housing crisis in central London.
Always one to relish the challenge, Sir Harold established Central London Housing Trust in 1966.
The Trust comprised of six large buildings containing bedsits, which offered sheltered housing to older people. Over 1,000 flats were contained in the buildings, with local councils across London submitting nominations on behalf of those who needed the accommodation most. Many people needed safer places to live, with their own properties still suffering the effects of bomb damage.
An outstanding legacy
Sir Harold became Baron Samuel of Wych Cross in 1972 upon his creation as a life peer. He died in 1987, leaving Edna, his wife of 50 years, and three daughters.
Six years after his death, Central London Housing Trust and Cecil Houses successfully merged to create what is now C&C. The properties in the Trust – Dora House, Ada Court, Edna House, Oldfield Estate (comprising of Jacqueline, Marion and Carole Houses), Vivian Court and Philip House – are all named after members of Lord Samuel’s own family. All remain owned by C&C to this day, although the original Dora House has been demolished, to be replaced by a modern development set to open in 2022.
Away from his work in social housing, Sir Harold was an avid art collector, and his collection of 84 Dutch paintings were donated upon his death to Mansion House, where you can still see them hanging today. He was also a fellow of both Magdalene College, Cambridge and University College, London, and is often falsely credited with creating the famed expression ‘location, location, location’.
With C&C celebrating its 95th anniversary back in October, and having recently completed its merger with Aster Group, it’s the perfect time to reflect back on our history – and the amazing gift of social housing that Lord Harold Samuel strived to bring London’s over-55s residents from the 1960s on.
C&C is currently hosting a “Move for Care” month-long step challenge, to be followed by a fortnight’s Dance-a-thon. The aim is to raise £25,000 to build sensory gardens at each of our four care homes. To support these fundraising efforts, or to get involved yourself, please visit ccht.org.uk/our-care-homes/move-for-care/. Thank you for your support.