FEWC - George Holloway on housing

In 1890, Stroud millowner John Libby decided to extend the Notes and Recollections published in 1873 by his friend Paul Hawkins Fisher. He wrote with diligent detail about the further changes that had occurred in Stroud between the years 1870 and 1890 and arranged for his new book to be published on the Stroud Journal presses. There is a copy of his book in Stroud Library, although it is now damaged and has missing pages. However, John Libby's admiration for George Holloway - later and briefly Stroud's MP - shines through this short extract from his book. The Holloway Society is still based in Stroud, and its aims have not changed all that much.

Although he does not specifically name them, I have assumed that George Holloway's description of the 'about 70' cottages in his Cottage Building Society refers to the new build on The Field Estate. The terraces of cottages built for him there contain (21 + 21 on the two Lypiatt Terraces, 16 + 12 on the two Dorrington Terraces = 70) but since there is no date on the quotation I shall say no more. He also had some rather nice larger villas built on Bisley Road, where there was a handy quarry. And, to be fair, he bought the large triangular hillside known as Daisy Bank as recreational ground for his tenants - the plaque on the wall says the park was donated to the town by Sir John Dorington in 1900, who was also one of his co-trustees. They saw each other right, did these Victorian moguls.

An extract from


by John Libby [pages 139 – 143]

published as a limited edition in 1890 by the Stroud Journal


Among the factors of social progress in Stroud, it will be admitted by all candid persons that the Conservative Benefit Society established by Mr. George Holloway has been one of the greatest. In response to a request made by the writer to that gentleman for some particulars of this excellent social movement, Mr. Holloway sent him the following sketch : -

“It was some years before 1875 that I suggested to Sir John Dorington, then Mr. J. E. Dorington, and others, the importance of benefit societies upon an improved principle. They doubted my being able to get working-men to join a new society in preference to existing societies. But you know 'a man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still’ : so when Sir Stafford Northcote introduced his Bill upon Friendly Societies I wrote to him suggesting a clause permitting individual members to own their share of the funds, and launched my scheme. This was while the Bill was in Parliament in 1875, and I allowed my members to pay back to January 1st, 1875, although we actually commenced at Easter in that year. We commenced with forty members (myself being No. 1, and Mr. Dorington No. 2). I may say that the new principles of my society are simplicity itself, and entirely free from mystification, every member gets what he earns for the society, no more, no less. No actuarial valuation is required, and the assets and liabilities upon the 1st January every year are exactly equal. It is impossible, or next to impossible, for the society to become insolvent or unable to fulfil its engagements, as every member contributes about four times the amount of the ordinary risk of sickness and sick pay, the balance going to the annuity or savings bank fund, to accumulate at interest. We have just completed our fourteenth year; and original members who have contributed one penny a day from the commencement have now £30 0s. 6d in the savings bank fund, which is considerably in excess of their total contributions during the fourteen years; so that they have enjoyed the benefit of 10s. a week when sick, and free medical attendance at all times for some pounds less than nothing. I do not think it possible to improve upon this, and it is not wonderful that working men thoroughly appreciate the system." Mr. Holloway adds, “the number of members is now 3,500, and the deposits up to December 31st, 1888, were £32,000.”

Since the foregoing information was supplied, we learn from the latest balance sheet (December 31st, 1889), that the number of shares was 3,623, as against 3,328 in the previous year, that the dividend was 26s. per share as against 28s., that the members' total subscriptions were £6,591 as against £6,182 in 1888, that the amount due to members was £31,517 as against £27,969, that the withdrawals were £1,631 as against £1,482, that the deceased members were 219 as against 261, that £55 had been paid to persons whose age was 65 as against £90 to members of the same age in 1888, that the sick pay was £1,452 as against £1,385, that the bank balance was £2,631 as against £1,087, and the reserve fund had been increased from £356 to £509. Mr. Holloway sums up the result of this thriving society of thrifty members in the following words : “After paying for all their sickness, and interest to all their members at five per cent. on the accumulated fund, they had saved during the year £4,864!" Truly this is a grand result, and we congratulate the members upon the flourishing condition of their admirable society.


In reply to a further question, as to his cottage building Mr. Holloway writes:

“MY scheme of cottage ownership is of slower growth, but I think equally sound. It is as follows : Presuming, a cottage to cost £150, that at four per cent. would be £6 per annum. My plan was to lend the tenant the whole of the £150 at four per cent., provided he paid £2 10s. down, and £2 10s. a year every year in addition to the interest upon the unpaid principal. Thus the first year's rent, or interest, would be £6 and £2 10s. a year, by monthly instalments, total £8 10s., very little, if any, more than the ordinary rent of a house worth £150 ; and the amount decreases every year by the amount of interest on the £2 10s. until the £150 is entirely wiped off. My tenants who accepted these terms 12 years ago have paid off £30, and the balance due to me is as safe as in consols, whilst their annual rent has been reduced £1 4s. a year, and is now considerably less than the ordinary rental value of their houses."

“I have built about 70 cottages, all with six rooms each, and of a superior class, and I must say, in justice to my tenants, that, with two or three exceptions, I have never had any difficulty in getting my rent, although only a few have accepted the purchasing principle as explained above; but those few are now the envy of the rest."


BESIDES the Conservative Benefit Society, founded by Mr. George Holloway, there is another benefit society which has sprung into existence under the title of “The Mutual Provident and Sick Benefit Society," with its offices at 5, Rowcroft. The latest balance sheet of this society shows that £1,713 had been received in members' contributions during the year 1889, and that £215 had been disposed of in sick pay. After carrying £90 13s. 2 1/2d. to the next account, and setting aside £25 for the commencement of a reserve, and crediting members' accounts with £112 15s. 7d. for interest, there remained £1,429 16s. 8d. for appropriation, which would pay a dividend of £1 8s. per share. The interest for investments amounted to £133 19s. 6d., and the sum on mortgage at the end of the year was £3,865.


There is also the Stroud Provident Building Society with its offices on the same premises. It is now in its 39th year, and on the 31st July, 1888, its members numbered 808. During its last financial year its receipts amounted to £17,656. The liabilities consisted of 'due to shareholders £13,773,’ whilst it had a reserve fund of £4,442, being the balance of unappropriated profit The assets were - balance due on mortgage securities, not including prospective interest £44,365, invested in other securities and cash £549. This society was established under the auspices of the Liberal party, and as will be seen by the foregoing figures, which we take from the "Stroud News," 29th November, 1889, has had a successful career of nearly 40 years.


In addition to the “Stroud Provident Building Society " there is the “Stroud Conservative Permanent Building Society." This association was founded in April 1869, so that it has been established a little over 20 years. We extract the following from its first prospectus

"Although the number of building societies has considerably increased of late years, and in other localities in greater proportion than in the neighbourhood of Stroud, the benefits which they offer to every class, and the principles on which they are conducted, are still comparatively unknown.

“The members of building societies consist of two classes, viz., investors and borrowers, who, by co-operation, benefit each other. To the former a lucrative investment for saving is offered, and to the latter opportunity of acquiring property on easy terms.

“While Savings and Post Office Banks have do much to encourage the formation of saving and provident habits, it must be admitted that beyond the unquestionable guarantee which they give, no further inducement is held out to stimulate the efforts of the thrifty labouring class. Building societies, on the other hand, guarantee at least five per cent. interest, with a share of profits, and ample security to the investor.

“Borrowers are also benefited ; for societies advance money to members to purchase or build houses, charging moderate interest and accepting repayment by instalments. Every tenant must pay considerably more in rent for his house than the interest on the cost of it, and therefore a society which enables a person making payments a little in excess of the ordinary rent to become possessor of a house in the course of a few years, offers very decided advantages.

“The promoters of the 'Stroud Conservative Building Society' do not profess to try any new experiments, but in preparing their rules have embraced all the improvements which have contributed to the success of other societies, and which they doubt not will tend to make this society a success also."

This expectation has been fully realised. For the first four years there was a gradual and steady increase, and for the last 16 years the annual average amount of business done is £10,000, varying, in different years from £6,000 to £13,600. By the last Government return, Dec. 31st, 1888, we find its receipts were £6,352. The liabilities consist of, due to shareholders £21,952, and to depositors and other creditors £4,719. It had a reserve fund of £1,706, being the balance of unappropriated profits. The assets were a balance due on mortgage securities, not including prospective interest £26,676, and invested in cash and other securities £1,701.

end of extract

transcribed by Marion Hearfield, 2011