Rent Book


Rent Book

Found: donated by owner

date: 1974

This 1970s rent book was issued by St Pancras Housing Association to a weekly tenant. The Association, which changed its name several times, was established in 1924 as St Pancras House Improvement Society by a team led by the inspirational Basil Jellicoe. It demolished slums or ‘insanitary areas’ in Somers Town and built Drummond Estate, including St Joseph’s Flats where this tenant was to reside; also, Sidney and Eversholt estates. A key member of the team, Irene Barclay, introduced humane housing management with women collecting modest rents. Pundits viewed the operation as “a paragon” of housing societies.

Details of the Medical Officer on the rent book indicate that the local council’s public health function remained, but from the 1970s, the close relationship between the Association and its tenants was disappearing. The formidable Barclay retired, and other long-serving workers departed. From 1974, the government released funds through the Housing Corporation for associations to expand rapidly but took away their freedom to set rents. 

The outcome was that while the Association retained its Somers Town flats, it adopted the policies and working culture of a mainstream organization. Operating well beyond its London base, it eventually lost its St Pancras tag. 

By Michael Passmore