Charity’s urgent plea over Alford almshouses

The Almshouses, West Street, Alford.
The Almshouses, West Street, Alford.

A further £50,000 is required if plans to renovate historic buildings in Alford are to proceed as planned, a charity has warned.

The trustees of the Sir Robert Christopher’s Almshouses in West Street, have worked tirelessly over the past six years to raise £400,000 towards vital renovation work.

But despite fantastic local support an additional £50,000 is required - and just a matter of weeks remain before the amount is due.

“It would be a great pity if the project was now to fail at this final hurdle and the trustees are renewing the local appeal to enable the scheme to proceed,” said a spokesperson.

The trustees are faced with the challenge of raising a revised estimated amount of £50,000 against the time pressure of entering building contracts to meet a Homes & Community Agency (HCA) deadline of September 26.

“This might be by way of donation and/or loan or partly both,” they added.

The trustees of the Sir Robert Christopher’s Almshouses have carried out his Will since his death in 1668 by providing accommodation for six needy persons.

Sir Robert Christopher provided the West Street land and funds for the erection of the original houses, which were replaced by the current buildings in the 1870s through funds provided by a successor.

The properties have since fallen into disrepair.

And the trustees have been working “tirelessly” to implement the current scheme to renovate and extend the Almshouse properties. The first three years were absorbed by the Planning/Listed Building processes and the next two in securing a commitment from the HCA for a substantial grant of £200,000 towards the then estimated costs of the scheme of £425,000.

Last year, the trustees launched a public appeal to raise the balance of the estimated costs.

The charity managed to raise £400,000 of its target but ‘time is now of the essence’ as the HCA funding is conditional upon building work starting by September 26.

“The scheme has already received tremendous support from the churches, chapels and almost all of the institutions of the town and many of the businesses and local benevolent people,” they added.

For details call the trustees’ secretary at Tinn Criddle & Co – solicitors or David Wood on 01507 466077.