Wesley House in the 1960s

Trustee minutes

The Trustee minutes of the 1960s detail their business which mainly covered four areas; the accounts, investments, property and the state of the premises.

Property

Much time and effort was spent on the houses belonging to the Trust. 23 Jesus Lane was used as a home for the Housekeeper and 32 Jesus Lane was the Tutor’s house. 24, 25, 26, and 31 Jesus Lane were leased to generate income. (Numbers 27-30 had been demolished in 1924.) At the end of the 1950s the four houses brought in £539 of rent annually.

 

In 1965 the Trustees discussed the level of rents. The tenant in 24 Jesus Lane was changing and the Agents suggested raising the rent from £145 to £160. The Secretary of the Trustees wrote to the Agents to say that it was felt that as these properties were to be regarded as a Trust Investment it should be the duty of the Trustees to obtain the best possible income and that it should be possible to obtain £250pa with Tenant right to sublet. The minutes note “Mr Flemington expressed some concern that the properties in Jesus Lane would not be available for students as the charges would be too high for them and that might damage relations between ourselves and other Colleges.” And so the Trustees gave Mr Flemington discretion to vary the rent by £20-£25. The property was let at £250. By the mid 1960s the annual rental income was £880. (In 1967 the Trustees had changed their view and it was recorded that the rents charged on the Jesus Lane properties were not commercial rents “it being the policy of the Trust to enable these houses to be used as University Lodging houses.”)

 

However, as landlords Wesley House incurred a constant drain of costs and there was a deficit from leasing out property in more than one year. For example, the costs in 1960 included £100 of redecoration following Jesus College vacating 31 Jesus Lane (paid for by Wesley House because of “resistance of Jesus College had shown to contributing to the proposed outlay”), £201 for a new gas boiler, £455 for external decorations of all six houses, and £278 for roof repairs to 31 Jesus Lane. In 1961 there was a “heavy” deficit of £755 caused by the discovery during roof repairs that the chimneys needed urgent repairs. The chimney stacks on 26 Jesus Lane collapsed in a high wind in 1966, requiring urgent roof repairs.

 

In 1967 the Trustees agreed to terminate the lease of 26 Jesus Lane early and take possession to convert it for accommodation for married students at a cost of £2,000, funded through the sale of investments. The Trustees noted that “it is the responsibility of married students to make their own arrangements but this would inevitably result in students being wide spread over the town. It was the right policy that these students should be within the College circle.”

 

In 1967 the Trustees bought a house at 247 Chesterton Road to accommodate new staff at a cost of £6,750, funded by £3,000 from Wesley House and a £3,750 interest-free loan from the Ministerial Training Fund.

 

In 1968 it was reported that the leases on all of the Jesus Lane houses would fall vacant in the next 12 – 18 months and that the properties will then be required for College purposes (married men and a resident Porter).

Accounts

The Trustees reviewed and agreed the annual accounts and budgets. As might be expected, the issue of income for students was discussed often. It is recorded in 1961 that Wesley House received £230 pa from the Ministerial Training Fund for students who were not grant funded and that this would be increased to £250 in line with other colleges. In 1965 there was a discussion whether the amount received on behalf of students was adequate but Mr Flemington noted that it was difficult for students to get a Local Authority grant as most of them had already received a grant for their first degree.

 

Financial decisions included agreeing in 1961 to pay for the cost of the garages for WF Flemington’s and M Skinner’s cars, which they had been paying personally and to increase their hospitality grants from £60 to £100 pa.

 

In 1963 the Trustees noted that lower cost of provisions and Housekeeper etc. wages “was entirely due to the fact that for some considerable period in the year the College had been without a Housekeeper and the work had been done by Mrs Flemington”. The Trustees felt very strongly that some suitable recognition of Mrs Flemington’s work should be made. A similar saving was made in 1964 as Mrs Flemington again took over as Housekeeper for two months.

 

In 1964 it was reported to the Trustees that the cost of provisions was £1.7.8 per student per week. Some concern was expressed that this figure seemed rather low, but there is no record of a decision being made to increase it.

 

In 1964 the Trustees noted that the Cambridge Authorities proposed to increase rating assessment from £2,472 to £2,805 and that “The University is watching the interests of all the Colleges and was not in agreement with the proposals and was making the necessary objections on behalf of the College.”

 

In 1965 it is recorded that in response to an appeal made to all Cambridge Colleges, the Trustees agreed they were not empowered to give Trust monies for the Winston Churchill College appeal.

 

The 1967 accounts showed that the Trustees had had to make up a deficiency of £5,935 in the College account (compared with £5,369 the previous year ) – due to additional Tutor, stipends increase, removals cost, a leaving tea for the Flemingtons, fewer students, and smaller Local Authority grants. There had, though, been an increase in Ministerial Training Fund receipts. The Trustees agreed in principle to supplement income by holding conferences etc. in the long vacation but they noted that Churchill College was under investigation and could lose its charity allowance because of substantial letting receipts, and so any action was deferred.

 

In 1968 Brian Beck’s library proposals were agreed, creating a budget of normally £400 pa for purchasing books, £100 pa for 5 years for special repairs, and £40 in 1968/69 for re-cataloguing. It was agreed that the proceeds of book sales would provide additional funds for the library.

Investments

 

1961 minutes record that the Trustees were waiting for a government bill on enlarged investment powers for Trustees to become law before making changes to investments. They were also waiting for the Methodist Finance Act 1960 to be effected and in 1962 the Trustees agreed to enter all Trust investments into the Methodist Church Central Finance Board.

 

The following year it was reported that all investments (except £500 4% Defence Bonds and 19,750 10/- Ordinary Shares in Reckitt and Colman Holdings Ltd) had been sold or transferred for shares in the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church – giving 66,532 shares. The minutes record that the Rickett and Colman Holding (which were part of the gift made to Wesley House by the Rt Hon Thomas Ferens in 1923) would be sold but “the process would take a little while so as to avoid upsetting the market in these shares”.

 

The Defence Bonds were redeemed in 1967, realising £515 which was invested in the Central Finance Board fund, following which the Trustees no longer needed to manage their own investments for the first time in 46 years.

 

Trustees were informed in a 1967 meeting that the balance of the 1919 foundation fund was £20,000. The capital can be spent in altering, adapting, adding to or purchasing equipment for the college building. The income can be used for the support, maintenance, repair, enlargement and improvement of the college, payment of salaries or bursaries and for other purposes for the benefit of the college. They were also informed that the balance of the capital from the 1924 endowment fund cannot be spent. This fund is valued at about £76,000. Income is given to the governing body for the general purposes of the college but must not be used for the purchase of land or the erection of buildings.

Premises

 

The 1960s saw not inconsiderable work on maintaining the premises.

 

Fabric needed renewal including replacing all 24 mattresses (1961: £167), curtains throughout the College (1966: £100), Chapel carpet (1965: £160). In 1968 the Trustees agreed to buy a washing machine for the students (£100) provided that the students funded the servicing contract. Repairs included 30 pipes that had burst in a “recent sudden cold spell” (1962). In 1966 it was agreed to redecorate the Principal’s study and kitchen ahead of Gordon Rupp’s arrival. In 1965 the College Shield over the main gate was stolen and would need replacing at £58 (though Flemington delayed the replacement “as it was felt advisable to delay the matter so as to avoid immediate damage by those originally responsible for its loss”).

 

Rewiring the College was a major task. The Trustees received an estimate of £220 for rewiring ‘A’ staircase. This had been recommended in a 1958 survey which reported that the wiring was in a “very serious condition with constant fusing and faulting”. In 1964 it was reported that all the wiring relating to the Building opened in 1925 had been renewed. In 1968 it was reported that “There were no power points in the Principal’s Lodge. Two points could be installed on existing wiring for £30 if the 2 points were not used simultaneously”. It was felt that the wiring must be renewed at a cost of £300.

 

The Trustees discussed the need to convert to oil fuelling. “After considerable discussion” it was agreed to get an estimate for a full conversion, including central heating, water for kitchen and washing. “It was decided that hot water for baths should be available to the students at any time throughout the week.” The new system cost £2,100 and used 400 gallons of oil a week at a cost of £20.

 

An extra meeting was called in October 1967 with an architect, Mr Bennett, present to “consider the many and various problems relating to the state of the property and its furnishings and also the increases in the day to day expenditure of the college arising from the staff and other changes since September”. Money was getting tight but matters needing attention included external painting of 4 properties, conversion of 23 Jesus Lane to accommodate the Housekeeper and the Porter and his wife, staff garages, interior decoration of the whole college, improved lighting, new heating, and repairs to chairs and desks. The Trustees suggested this should be done for no more than £5,000. At the next meeting it was reported that the estimates came in at £9,500.

 

A resolution from the Governors “That the completion of the Buildings of Wesley House should be carried out as far and as soon as possible” was reported. The Trustees accepted this in principle and appointed a planning committee.

 

In 1968 plans to alter and redecorate the Dining Hall were approved at a cost of £850, plus the addition of two chandeliers at £250. Plans were made to renovate the chapel at an estimated cost of £5,000 - £6,000 including removing the murals, reducing the height of the Communion Table, removing the top step and purchasing two chandeliers of the same design as the Dining Hall. A Lecture Room was created for Brian Beck in the Table Tennis Room, necessitating the removal of the table to a store room over the Dining Hall.

 

The chapel murals were damaged by damp and only repairable at a great cost. Opinions about the desirability of keeping them were split; the previous year’s minutes record that “it was generally agreed that the Murals, including the Apse, were quite unsuitable to modern requirements”. The Trustees agreed to remove the mural though one, Professor Jennings, voted against the proposal on the grounds “that these difficulties should be faced in a mood of proper reverence before a work of artistic merit.” The following year it is recorded in the minutes that “The work in the Chapel was agreed to be a very considerable improvement and a most successful result.”