Eleanor Rathbone House, Highgate, 1969 – c.2002

Eleanor Rathbone House, a purpose built twelve-storey block of fifty three sheltered flats (and one warden flat) for elderly refugees was officially opened on 7 December 1969. Amongst the guests at the ceremony were Eleanor’s friend, Mary Stocks , Vera Craig (Mrs Schaerli)  secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on Refugees, and members of the Rathbone family. Mr John F. Rathbone spoke on behalf of the family, and said that ‘when asked for the consent to name the Home after his aunt, he had first hesitated, because Eleanor Rathbone had been a very modest personality who had never liked to put her name into the foreground. She was unsentimental and excelled by a strong sense of humility. Yet in the end he had arrived at the conclusion that she would have been pleased to be commemorated in this way, especially as she had felt a great personal affection for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi regime. ‘ (AJR Journal, January 1970, p.3.)

Eleanor Rathbone House was built as a joint project by the Association of Jewish Refugees and the Central British Fund for German Jewry (CBF), the then recipient of West German reparation funds.  In 1991 the Otto Schiff Housing Association (OSHA),  took over the ownership and management of a number of homes from the CBF, of which Eleanor Rathbone House was one.  When the flats were built they represented a new concept in independent living for the elderly. But people’s requirements changed, especially as they were now so much older when they enter residential care. The home’s location, on a hill and somewhat remote from shops and buses, was far less accessible and people preferred separate living rooms and bedrooms to studio flats. AJR Information reported in  August 1999 that there were ambitious plans for the building of new sheltered flats and a new day centre.  The chairman, Andrew Kaufman, assured all existing residents that no one would be asked to move before the new flats were ready for occupation and that every assistance will be given to ensure the minimum of inconvenience and disruption. The property was sold in October 2003 for a sum of  5.7 million pounds. The Otto Schiff Housing Association (OSHA), which in 1991 took over the ownership and management of a number of homes from the CBF, of which Eleanor Rathbone was one, were the main beneficiary of the sale after the repayment of mortgages and other outstanding loans. Responsibility for the running of OSHA, and of this home, was accepted by Jewish Care three years previously.


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One response to “Eleanor Rathbone House, Highgate, 1969 – c.2002

  1. My aunt lived here for a number of years and I remember Thw lovely view from her flat.


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