February 2021

Swindon United Charities Almshouses

Christ Church Cottages / Anderson’s Hostel – 27-30 Cricklade Road

Anderson’s Almshouses Old Town
Now known as Anderson’s hostel, Anderson’s almshouses in Old Town – on Cricklade Street to be precise – were built thanks to a bequest by one Alexander Anderson in 1865. He made his bequest of £1, 636 for the benefit of the poor.

Born in Scotland in 1808, Alexander Anderson died a Swindonian in 1874, leaving a bequest to build almshouses right by the Christ Church graveyard.

The architect was William Henry Read of Swindon and the builder, Thomas Barrett of Newport Street. They demolished some ancient thatched cottages on the site to make way for their project.

The gothic style

The houses comprise four bays – single storey and attic in the first instance. In Gothic style they have braced decorative bargeboards on the gables. There’s an inset plaque on Cricklade Street detailing the bequest.

Anderson's Almshouses Old Town - plaque on cricklade street
Anderson’s Almshouses Old Town – plaque on cricklade street
Anderson's Almshouses Old Town - Swindon on Cricklade Street

Each of the four houses comprised a living room and pantry on the ground floor with a bedroom above. The commemorative plaque on the houses bears the date 1877.

To be eligible to apply for accommodation in the houses you had to be either a single or married woman, aged over 60 and resident in Swindon over three years. You also couldn’t be in receipt of poor relief. Those running the houses gave preference to those ‘reduced by misfortune from better circumstances.’

The residents of houses No 1 and No 2 received small weekly pensions from John Chandler, a Wood Street draper. Then, in 1897, one gave £100 to provide a pension for the inmate of No 3.

Anderson’s Hostel

By 1906, Anderson’s institution had become known as a “Hostel“. In in that year, Swindon’s charities became united under a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners.

By 1903 all four residents were women. In 1962 the charities had an annual income of £110 and only residents in the ancient parish of Swindon could benefit.

On the list

The British Listed Building’s website gives the following information about the listing for Anderson’s Hostel in Swindon:

Listing date: 17th February 1970
Grade II
Source ID: 1283745
English Heritage Legacy ID: 318721

1993 saw internal remodelling of the almshouses into self-contained flats for the elderly winning a Thamesdown Borough Council’s Conservation and Design Award. If you zoom in on the image above of the stone plaque you can see a smaller blue/white plaque in the top left corner denoting this award.

Anderson's Almshouses Old Town

See more Swindon in 50 More Buildings posts here: https://swindonian.me/category/swindon-architecture/swindon-in-50-more-buildings/

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