The Paddington Almshouse Stone

This book traces the changes from the early history of St. Marylebone and Paddington to the present day. A complicated and surprising story.

At the end of the nineteen-seventies, the Secondary Schools in North Westminster were in need of reorganization.

Before the Second World War, London was the largest manufacturing centre in the country but by the 1970s, because of the London pollution which killed hundreds every year and the resulting  Clean Air Acts, Industry had moved away to the New Towns.

Firms had taken their younger employees with them, eager to live in a new, clean house with a bathroom and a piece of garden. Older employees often preferred to find take early retirement and find other jobs in their familiar local streets. This produced a dramatic change in the balance of population in London. The children had gone with their parents: grandparents were left in London.

With so few pupils, London schools could not function properly. Classes for specialist subjects became impossibly small, while some subjects could not be offered at all. The only solution was to combine schools, with all the disruption and trauma which that involved. What was needed in St Marylebone and Paddington was one large secondary school to serve a thousand, or two thousand pupils, yet all the existing school buildings were too small and London Education had no money to build new.

In this situation, Michael Marland was appointed to create one large school in three existing school buildings. This story is told on pages 185 - 201.

In 1980, on his first visit to the North Wharf Road site, with his head in the air and planning the next couple of decades, Michael Marland tripped over a large engraved stone and was carried back in an instant from 1980 to 1714. Suddenly the hard school playground became a muddy field on the edge of a much larger Paddington Green, well outside 18th Century London.

 

The Almshouse Stone turned out to be the oldest engraved stone in Paddington.

I wrote a booklet about it called ‘The Almshouse Stone’  which I have now revised and print here as a separate document.

More Information on ‘The Almshouse Stone’
 
The stone was re-erected in the Upper School of North Westminster School and Re-dedicated by Lord Briggs, Master of Worcester College, in December 1990.

For us, at this point of the story,  the Stoneis a link to a completely different Paddington and a world before the Industrial Revolution.

The stone measures about 4 feet 3 inches by 3 feet 4 inches and from 2 to 3 inches thick. It is elegantly carved with the following inscription:

These Alms Houses
where (sic) built AD 1714
at the expence (sic) of the
Inhabitants for the
Poor of this Parish,
past their labour

Robert Cromwell Church
George Starkie Wardens

 Below is a vase carved in bas relief

 

It stood in the chimney of the Almshouses in a graveled Harrow Road and was drawn by T. H. Hosmer just before the Almshouses were demolished

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Updated June 8, 2012