This year marks half-a-century since a utopian vision of retirement living was made reality in Chingford, writes George Clarke
For 50 years a unique project in Chingford has provided economical homes for the retired on a not-for-profit, self-supporting basis.
Enterprise House in Kings Head Hill is an eight-storey building of 188 small self-contained flats, overlooking a beautiful garden on one side and a strip of Epping Forest on the other. It has never received any grants – in a remarkable financial achievement, the building and grounds are continually updated and the services and facilities are kept in top notch.
This was all the brainchild of a Polish-born architect, Henry J. Spiwak, who sadly died before work started and before he could initiate his plan for similar schemes elsewhere. Government loans covered a sizeable part of the initial cost of £1million to build Enterprise House and the last loan repayment is due in 2030.
The reception is staffed during weekday office hours. At other times residents gain entrance by using security fobs. Four full-time staff have daily contact with residents, and one of them is always available on the phone within the building. There are also admin staff and part-time cleaners.
A restaurant provides breakfast and lunch Tuesday to Friday, and dinner on Tuesday and Friday, at competitive prices. Meals are taken to those who cannot get to the restaurant. Alongside it, creating a big open area, is a hotel-style lounge.
The bar is staffed by volunteer residents. A shop, open on three mornings, sells food and other essentials. There are laundry rooms, a hairdressers, and chiropodists attend regularly. Other facilities include a library, computer room, snooker room, croquet court, and dancing and tai chi sessions. Prescriptions are collected regularly.
Other pluses of living here include the great transport facilities, especially the trains to Liverpool Street. In two careers in journalism and education I developed many varied interests and much appreciate the huge range of things available in the London area. As an outdoors person, I love the Lea Valley and the parks, gardens and rivers in London.
I’ve had a tremendous 14 years living in Enterprise House and I know how lucky I was to discover it when looking to move to the area to be near my family.
For more information about Enterprise House: