41. Farewell to all that

On 12th March 1953 Jack and Evelyn boarded the TSS Veendam of the Holland-America line en route to New York.  In the absence of correspondence from this period (the reason for this is explained in the next instalment), Jack’s detailed diary entries give a flavour of their first fortnight back in the United States.

TSS Veendam
TSS Veendam (Holland-America Line)

* * * * *

Excerpts from Jack Metcalfe’s diary:

12 March 1953:  LANDED IN USA 7.30 breakfast,- then a flurry of packing, assisted by steward.  Long waits for immigration.  Over at last and landed Hoboken about 12.  Maggie met us, left dollars etc + then went off.  We got our baggage into a couple of cabs + and got it  + ourselves to Hotel Earle for some thirty dollars!  A nice suite, but expensive, + I got the rate reduced from $8 to $7 a day.  Phoned Maggie, who will call us on Sat morning.  ‘Phoned May [Mayers], Review, Davison.  Supper at “Southern Inn”.  Back to hotel.  Bed about 10.30.  Very rainy.

13 March:  Still raining in morning.  E + I breakfasted off coffee + doughnuts at Waldorf Cafeteria.  Wrote letter to Lt Cdr St Pierre + Mr Gaszinki [sp], + air-mailed them.  Went Dept of Naturalizati0n + Immigration, 70 Columbus Avenue, then to Grand Central,-where enquired re fares etc to Los Angeles.  Then walked to Cooks  + got remaining English + Dutch money changed.  Back by subway to 14th St + found E in Waldorf Cafeteria, where we had lunch. Back to hotel where had nap.  Set out for May’s at 3.30 + reached there at 4.  Cocktails, in which Lan later joined us.  E, May + I then dined out,-v. good steak.   Returned to May’s, + finally left at 9.30 and walked back to hotel.  Bed.

14 March:  Breakfast.  Called in vain on Charlotte [Wilder], who is still in hospital,-then called in vain on Hazel + on Fanny.  Back to hotel.  Maggie called and gave me cheque for remainder of Fund money.  After she had left E + I took laundry to “Joe’s” at Bleecker St.  Lunch at Cafeteria.  Back to hotel.  Doze.  Went Davison’s, then on to Bernice Elliott’s, where we had dinner.   Back at hotel by about 11.  Bed.

15 March:  Wrote letter in morning.  Nap after lunch at cafeteria.  Typed out copies of testimonials + of house-statement.  Dinner at Hazel’s.  Walked back to hotel through pouring rain.  Bed.

16 March:  7.30 breakfast at cafeteria.  Arrived late at dentist’s (Dr C I Stoloff).  Paid him $35.  Came back to hotel.  Out again and air-mailed letters to Uncle Jim and Mr Coleman (3s/9d cheque enclosed).  Cashed Margaret’s Fund cheque at Amalgamated Bank, Union Sq, + then put most of it into new a/c at Corn Exchange Bank, 7th Ave + 14th St.  Went 25 Broad St, + had lunch with Walter who will send $75.  Back at hotel by about 3.45. Nap.  Supper at Cafeteria.  Bed.

17 March:  Paid hotel $40.70. Breakfast at cafeteria.  Posted letter to Maggie.  Went to No 1 Wall St.  Left testimonials for photostating.  Dr Stoloff 1.30 to get dentures OK.  Back to hotel.  E + I to 5th Ave Hotel for cocktails with Elmer Rice.  Called on Fanny Sammes [sp?] at 27 Greenwich Ave.  Then had supper at Southern Inn.  E unwell.  Back to hotel.  Bed.

18 March: Air-mailed cheque for £2 to Hobson.  Went downtown and saw Mr Beamand’s secretary, + then made enquiries at Hanover Bank, 70 Broadway, 7th floor re sending money to England by “letter of delegation”.  Collected Photostats + came back to hotel. Lunch at Waldorf cafeteria.  Walter’s cheque (for $70) had arrived and I paid this in to my a/c at the Corn Exchange Bank.  Collected laundry and returned to hotel.  (Our luggage has been brought up from “cellar” for repacking). Had nap till about 5.30.  E wrote letters while I smoked.  Supper.  Bed.

19 March:  Took train tickets to Grand Central for changing to later date.  Lunch at Cafeteria.  Nap.  Dawn and Cully came at 5, with whisky.  Supper.  Continued re-sorting and –packing of baggage.  Lan came to hotel with car at 9 and took luggage (+ us) to May’s,  Left 7 pieces there.  Cocktails.  E + I walked back to hotel.  Bed.

20 March:  Cheque $25 from Hal Bynner via Margaret. Have nasty cold.  Got haircut after breakfast.  Went Grand Central,-but tickets not ready yet.  Visited three teacher agencies:-Stein (no good), American + Foreign, and Albert.  Lunch at a Horn + Hardarts.  Went one more agency (Miss Watson).  Then back to hotel.  Nap.  Supper at cafeteria.  Bed.

21 March:  Breakfast.  Bought small trunk on 3rd Avenue.  Walked back to hotel with it.  Went Grand Central and changed tickets OK at last.  Posted letters from E to Miss Sillcox + to Hal Bynner.  Bought Dutch tobacco.  Back by subway + bought little parcels [?] for dentures.  “Home” to hotel.  Nap.  Supper at Dawn Parnell’s.  Joe Gallacher came in later.  Back to hotel,- bed.

23 March:  Went Grand Central + arranged for luggage (6 pieces) to be called for tomorrow.  Paid $12. Back to hotel,-then called on literary agent, Margaret Chrintra [?] at 37 Madison Ave (Madison Square hotel, Apt 1220).  Left MSS with her.  Back to hotel, + found E had already lunched.  I went out + had lunch at cafeteria.  Back to hotel.  E set off with her MSS to Mr Russell, literary agent, + returned about 4.30.  After supper we took two more pieces of baggage (purple-lined & Hazel’s) to Lan + May.  Walked back to hotel.  Bed.

24 March:  Drew money from Corn Exchange bank.  Saw Mr Beamand at 10.30 + sent $40 to my Hampstead bank via Hanover Bank, 70 Broadway.  Very rainy.  E had had her lunch when I returned, so I lunched alone.  Van came for our 6 pieces of baggage at about 2.10.  Maggie called at 2.30.  I let at 4 + got receipt from Hanover Bank.  Returned to Hotel.  E + I had supper at cafeterial.  Went to May’s.  Left 2 packages.

25 March:  Wrote + posted letter to Westminster Bank, (air-mail), + to PO Station O, 217 W 18 ST re re-direction + letter from E to Paul, c/o Doubleday’s.  Registered at British Consulate.  Confirmed spelling of ‘Christie’.  Called on Mrs Walcott at St Luke’s School re teaching post notified by Albert Agency.  Finished packing + topping.  Lunch of stuffed pappers.  Taxi to Grand Central.  Left on ‘Pacemaker’ at 3 pm. ‘Dinner’ of a sandwich each + coffee cost us $2.50 plus 40c tip. Very little sleep.

26 March: Arrived Chicago 7.30 am.  Checked some baggage at Dearborn Station + breakfasted off bacon + eggs at ‘The Streamliner’.  Returned to Dearborn Station.  Wired Dr. Vincent.  Posted letter from E to Hal Smith.  Smoked in waiting-room. Left Chicago on ‘El Capitan’, 5.45.  Drunken man a nuisance.

27  March: On train all day.  Drunken man got off at Albuquerque.

28 March:  Breakfast at 6.  Got off train at Los Angeles at 7.15.  Contacted Huntington Hartford driver.  Got 5 of our 6 pieces of luggage from station, + were driven to the Foundation.  Had coffee.  Unpacked.  Lunch brought to our cottages at 12.30. Rang up station + found we have to pay $41 excess to get wardrobe trunk. Nap till 5. Supper at 6.  Got 2 blankets,-but heat not functioning.  E wrote ‘Min Tom’, + I put the letter in mail-box. Bed

JM diary 12 Mar 53
Jack Metcalfe’s diary entry for March 12, 1953

* * * * *

Jack’s financial problems were not resolved with the final payments from the Evelyn Scott Fund, and before they could leave London for New York, it was necessary to Jack to clear the debts arising from his ownership of No 26, a process that continued well into the 1950s as the attached correspondence shows. Inflation since the late 1950s has increased the value of these amounts:  £100 pounds in 1958 would be worth roughly £2200 in today’s money.

Warning to readers in the US:  At the time of this correspondence  British currency was “old money”:  pounds, shillings and pence.  There were 20 shillings to the pound, and 12 pence to the shilling, and these were written in the form £pp.ss.pp, the components separated by full stops.  In order to make sense of the figures it is probably easiest to ignore all figures after the first full stop.
In July 1952, Jack enclosed the following statement of his financial liabilities in a letter to Margaret DeSilver.  This includes a reference to the “Carnegie Fund”:  the charitable payment made to Jack and intended to cover the expenses associated with their residency at the Hartford Harrington Foundation in California.

* * * * *

Statement of debts which must be cleared before leaving England

Sheet enumerating specific debts which must be cleared before we can extricate ourselves from stay in England:

Gas owed at the moment—further quarter’s bill will  not be due until Sept 18th

129.18. 9

Repair of wall:  still owe Hobson

55.17. 6

Repair of roof:  still owe Taylor

10. 0. 0

Repair of floors removal of shelter—this is the work now under way, the estimate is approximate but can’t be more and is being done with proven real concern to cut the costs when possible Colman

45. 0. 0

Income Tax, approximate—have asked chartered accountant for statement—Preston

130. 0. 0

370.16. 3

or approximately $1033

Apart from Income Tax, could probably just manage to “get away” with the payment of half of debts now deferring remainders for instalments sent when we are free of the house.  Income-tax, however, as you probably realize must be paid in full and is in arrears.  Remember this house is taxed on its rentals and the frozen rents began this situation.

The Carnegie fund $500 was disbursed on house-debts and instalments on rugs and a few other things for renting as soon as it arrived, recently.  We haven’t bought any clothes or personal articles of apparel etc yet.  I am still wearing the shoes too worn-out to re-soled.  This is typical of conditions during these eight years since 1945.

Half the payments on non-income or tax debts plus full income tax as above would be about 250 pounds or $700.

* * * * *

After their return to New York Jack engaged in an effort to finally clear his debts and to sell the property that had proved to be such a millstone. The following correspondence between Jack and Mr Brimblecombe of Match & Co, the managing agents whom Jack had retained for years to manage the house and its lettings, set the finances out in great detail.  This correspondence highlights the consequences of Jack’s rash decision to install, unmetered, gas central heating and hot water in all the flats:  As Mr Brimblecombe points out several times, the cost of the gas represents the greatest part of Jack’s indebtedness.  The correspondence refers to the “furnished flat” (the flat occupied by Jack and Evelyn and rented, furnished, to tenants on their departure for the US) and the “unfurnished flats” or the three flats which were let out to tenants.

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

Match & Co, Ltd
14 & 15 College Crescent
South Hampstead, NW 3
October 22, 1959

W J Metcalfe, Esq
The Benjamin Franklin Hotel
222 West 77th Street
New York 24, NY USA

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

re:  26 Belsize Crescent, NW3

Thank you for your letter of the 21st instant which I showed to Mr Jellis as he has been managing the property for a number of years, and I cannot do better than enclose his comments.

You will see, therefore, that you are under a misapprehension as to the costs involved in running this property and unfortunately the net income is nothing like £697 as stated by you.  As you will see from Mr Jellis’ report, the true net income is approximately £328 per annum.  This is subject to income tax and does not take into account any repairs of a major nature, replacements or repairs of furniture in the furnished flat, or loss of income whilst the furnished flat is vacant, and in considering these figures you must really bear in mind we are now obtaining for all of the flats  to-day’s true market rents and there is little likelihood of the net figure ever being increased.

In working out the figures, we have only allowed £100 a year for repairs which, on a building of this size, is small and if building costs do increase it might mean a further reduction in the net income.

Unfortunately, you are not now in a position to purchase the Freehold.  The Company who did buy the Freeholds from the Church Commissioners have now sold sufficient and are not prepared to consider disposing of any more.  This means that you must treat your investment on an investment basis only and bear in mind that the present term has only 18 years to run.

Taking into account the repairing covenants under your Lease, and here again I must emphasise that it is a full repairing one, this means complete re-decoration at the end of the term.  Depreciation is extremely high.  Taking a figure of only £2500 as the purchase price, this would mean, even ignoring interest, that this capital sum would be reduced each year by £140 and no tax allowance is ever made on a sinking fund.  In other words, if one takes the figures as supplied as being correct, you have a net income of £328 and with income tax at the standard rate, say £110, this leaves you approximately £200 a year and if yo deduct the loss of capital each year of £140 it seems that your true net income is negligible.

I do feel, as I have stated in my previous letters, that it is in your interests to see as if you do keep the property I cannot see any real income for you in the years to come.

Yours sincerely,
L S Brimblecombe

[The following is the attachment referred to in the letter above.]

 re:  26 Belsize Crescent

SECTION I

(a)  The rent of the furnished flat includes rates and water, central heating and constant hot water.

Net Rent   £409.10. 0

Less rates and water

£ 60.14. 5

1 qtr of central heating and hot water

110. 0. 0

£170.14. 5

Net income

£248.15. 7

(b)  The increased rents for the unfurnished flats are exclusive of rates and water, but inclusive of the cost of hot water and central heating.

SECTION II

(a) Electricity  The cost for the past year has been £2.10.0.  This, of course, covers only the landings and staircase.  Electricity in respect of the furnished flat is paid by the tenant.

Ground Rent  £32.2.0.  This is the gross amount before deduction of tax.

Water Rate  Furnished flat only—£4.12.5 per year.  This is the only charge payable by the landlord.

Insurance  £14.10.0.  This includes insurance of the furniture in the furnished flat.

(b) Gas  The new rents for the unfurnished flats include the cost of hot water and central heating, but are exclusive of rates and water.  The net increase, therefore, is not as much as £226  per year, as mentioned by Mr Metcalfe.

(c) Rates  The sum of £28.10.0 is for one half-year’s general rate in respect of the furnished flat.

SECTION III  Income Tax  The amounts shown as having been paid are agreed, but Mr Metcalfe’s accountants have not yet settled all tax liability for periods beyond 1945/55.  However, we have recently paid on the accountant’s instructions £142.1.9 representing the tax they have agreed for the years 1955/56 and 1958/59.  They are still negotiated with the Inspector of Taxes concerning the years 1956/57 and 1957/58.

SCHEDULE OF INCOME AND EXPENSES submitted by Mr Metcalfe

INCOME  The rent of the furnished flat is £409.10.0 (the sum of £419.8.0 includes telephone rent, which is not included in the schedule of outgoings).  The total income is, therefore, £1079.10.0.

OUTGOINGS

General rate of furnished flat

£ 56. 2. 0

Water rate furnished flat

     4.12. 5

Gas

  440. 0. 0

(All borne by landlord.  New unfurnished lettings are inclusive of the charge for gas.  The Housing Repairs and Rent Act 1954 does not apply to these lettings.)
Cleaner

32.10. 0

Cleaning material

4.10. 0

Insurance-building and furniture in furnished flat

14.10. 0

Staircase lighting

2.10. 0

Ground rent and garden rent

32. 2. 0

(Gross figure before tax deducted.)
Commission—Unfurnished flats: 5% of £670.0.0

33.10. 0

Furnished flat 7 ½% of £409.10.0

30.14.03

£751. 0. 0

This leaves a net income subject to tax of £328.0.0.

* * * * *

To L Brimblecombe, Match & Co

September 21, 1959

Dear Mr Brimblecombe,

Re: 26, Belsize Crescent, NW3

I.  I thank you for your letter LSB/JMC dated 8th September 1959, but am somewhat aghast at the figures given, and would need clarification of certain points before reaching a decision.

The position now as compared with the position just before I left England in ’53 has been improved by

(a) Letting of furnished flat at £419.8.0 (Since, previously, I occupied it myself “rent-free”

(b) Increased rents under Rent Act, gaining me £226.

(c) Recent termination of mortgage, relieving me of £210 p.a.

These three improvements total £855.8.0.

From ’39 to ’53 the house remained “solvent”, at least/.

I am getting £419.8.0 for the Garden Flat; and I wasn’t then (i.e. before leaving England).  I am getting an increase in rents of £226; and I wasn’t then.  I am relieved of the £210 mortgage; which I wasn’t then. . .

II.  Notes on certain specific points in attached list

(a) My figures for Electricity, Ground Rent, Water and Insurance are those for ’52.  Electricity and Water may now be higher, but not Insurance or Ground Rent.  Regarding Ground Rent, I used to pay Messrs Willett a quarterly sum of £4.9.3.

(b) GAS (and most importantly)
Under the Housing Repairs and Rent Act, 1954, tenants pay the increase in cost of services over (in my case) the 1939 figure.

III.  Apart from Schedule A and from Repairs etc, there should be, according to my figures, a yearly profit of nearly £700.

IV.  Certainly there will be some considerable expenses, the heaviest of these, for painting, re-pointing etc, having to be met quite soon, say during the next three years.  Putting these really major expenses at, say, £540, this would mean, on average, £180 pa for the next three years, cutting down profit, during those next three years, to £410 (£590 les £180) pa.

In ensuing years the repair expenses should not be so heavy—say £100 pa—leaving a yearly profit of £490.

My profits over the next eighteen years should therefore be:–

3 years at £410 £1230
15 years at £490 £7350
£8580

If these figures are anywhere near correct I should think more than twice before selling the house.

V.  It remains my hope, especially, to accumulate enough to purchase, if possible, the Freehold.  You will recall that it was offered me, shortly before I left England in early ’53, for £1300—and how I wished I had been able, then, to acquire it!  (See my letters of Novr 16 ’52 and Feb 13 ’53, and yours to me of Novr 18th, ’52.)

However we return to England we would not necessarily re-occupy the Garden Flat.  Our idea might well be to find cheaper accommodation in the neighbourhood, leaving the Garden Flat at least for a time still let,—and while also I resumed employment at my old school.  The figures I have given would thus be left undisturbed.

VI.  To sum up:–

The points I stress and on which I want enlightenment are:

(a) Gas has always been the most worrying item of expenditure,—and your quarterly statements, of course, do not show, in detail, how the gross gas-bill was diminished by the Tenants’  Contribution of £165.1.10.

Before the passing of the Act my tenants paid me, under a “gentleman’s agreement”, a voluntary contribution towards the constantly increasing gas expenses,—which contribution was, however, always considerably less than what I might equitably have asked.

Since 1954 the contribution has become mandatory instead of voluntary, and I would like to be assured that my tenants have actually been paying this since ’54, as this is not, of course, apparent in your quarterly statements.

Quoting again from your letter to me of 1st July 1954, in which you told me how the provisions of this Act applied to a particular instance:–

At the present time Mrs Hopper” (one of my then tenants) “is paying £30 per year towards the cost of services, and we therefore propose that the rent should be increased by a further £11.5.6.”

There is, further, the question of possible extravagance on my tenants’ part while I am not there to control, in person, the setting of the gas-clocks.  The price per unit no doubt has gone on rising, but not, I hope, the consumption, in therms.  Your quarterly statements, naturally, do not tell me this.

(b)   The question of acquiring the Freehold (dependent on all of the foregoing)

With all good wishes,
Yours sincerely,
W J Metcalfe

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

October 22, 1959

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

re:  26 Belsize Crescent, NW3

We have been carefully considering whether it would be in your interests to sell the above.  We would like to draw your attention to the following:

1) Even with the increased rents the true net income is extremely small.  From our figures the gross income is about £1080, but the outgoings are over £700 a year and after payment of Schedule ‘A’ Tax, we doubt very much whether you receive more than £150 a year on the property, and this does not take into consideration any sinking fund for loss of capital or for dilapidations at the end of the term.

2)  The present Lease has now only 18 years to run.  It is, therefore, a rapidly decreasing asset and it might be that in a few years time the lease will be so short that you would be unable to see even if you so desired.

3) It must also be borne in mind that we  are dealing with a house now which is about 80 years old and the cost of maintenance is extremely high.  Owing to the very low rents obtained since the war, it has not been possible to repair the house and it will be necessary to spend quite a large sum on it during the next few years to put the house in good condition.  As you know, the Freeholders are already insisting that the exterior be repainted and from a brief inspection made by our Surveyor, there are several other items in need of attention, such as pointing, repair of window frames, doors, re-decoration of the staircase etc.

In other words, apart from ordinary maintenance, there is in our view a figure of something like £500 to be spend on the house during the next two or three years.  This means that the whole of the income is going to be swallowed up for at least three years and then you are left with a house with only a 15-year term.

We gather that your Accountants are sending you a full report as it is their view, as well as our own, that you would be very wise to try and find a purchaser.

With regard to price, it is a little difficult to say but we should imaging that the house in its present condition would be worth something in the region of £2000.  Thus sum could, of course, be invested by you with 5-6% interest and you would have no worries and your capital would remain in tact.

Perhaps you would like to consider the matter and let us have your views.

Yours sincerely,
L S Brimblecombe

 * * * * *

To L Brimblecombe, Match & Co.

October 5, 1959

Dear Mr Brimblecombe,

Re:  26, Belsize Crescent, NW3

Further to my letter of 1st October, which replied to one only (re painting estimates) of your two letters dated 25th September, I now take up again the question of the possible sale of the house, with which your second letter was concerned.

I see, of course, from Mr Jellis’s figures, that I was wrong in my own estimate of income, but before coming to a decision would like to make the following queries.

(a) Gas remains the villain of the piece.  It appears that the Rent Act, in my case, took away with one hand much of what it had given with the other.  The Rent Act increased my rents by £226 but deprived me of the £41.5.6 per unfurnished flat collectable from tenants under the Housing and Repairs Act 1954.  I had had no idea until now that this was so, and it does certainly rather upset the apple-cart.

(b)  Considering the fact that (with a present total gas-bill of £440) no less than £110 per flat, for this one item, must be borne by the landlord, I feel that, from the landlord’s point of view, the present rents are uneconomic.  In the instance of an unfurnished flat let at £225 virtually one half of his goes in gas alone,—and worse, of course, if gas-prices still increase.

My now unfurnished lettings, after the passing of the Rent Act, were for a period of three years, now beginning to draw towards its termination.

What are the prospects of an increase of these rents when the three-years period has elapsed?

Other landlords, besides myself, who provide central heating, will be feeling the pinch of exorbitant fuel-costs and will undoubtedly have to raise their rents; so why not I:  Since I bought the house, the gas-bill has more than quadrupled itself!

(c) None the less, the position now, as compared with the position in early 1953 when I left England, should show the following improvements:

(i) £226 increase in rents under Rent Act
less the £125.16.6 formerly collectable from three flats (at £41.5.6 per flat) under the Housing & Repairs Act 1954

£ 102. 3. 6

(ii) Net income, by Mr Jellis’s figures, from furnished flat .

£248.15. 7

(iii)  Relief from mortgage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

£210. 0. 0

£560.19. 1

I still cannot quite see (without at all contesting Mr Jellis’s figures) how so much of this gross gain of £560 odd has been absorbed an nullified by other, adverse, developments.

(d) Agreeing, however, the figure of £328 as the net income for the whole house, subject to tax, and calling the tax £100 pa, a “net-net” income of £228 pa would remain.  Eighteen years of this would represent £4104.

(e) The approximate figure, mentioned in your letter of September 8th, of £2000 as a selling-price for the house “in its present condition” would be disappointingly low.

If I did sell, my intention would be to leave the capital intact (and gathering utterly safe interest) until I returned to England.  I should then plan to use the money, or most of it, in purchasing some smaller place in, or within easy reach of, London (even as far out, perhaps, as Southend or Brighton, though I hope not).

Please forgive these personal details,—but the feeling of eventually having our own roof-tree is, of all things, most important to me.

For a somewhat higher price than £2000 (when the painting job is done that, anyhow, should increase the value of the house) this might be possible.

I should be deeply obliged to you if you could give me, quite unofficially and as a personal favour, even the roughest kind of idea as to the possibilities of purchasing a small freehold for, say, from £2000 to £2500.

With all good wishes,
Yours sincerely,
W J Metcalfe

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

November 10, 1959

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

Re:  26 Belsize Crescent, NW3

As you know, we act for the Freeholders of the above and they have instructed us to put forward an offer of £2250 for your interest, subject to contract.  They will be paying our fees so this figure would be net to you.  They have also asked us to state that they would be quite prepared to delay completion if this would suit you, say, until next June.  This would, therefore, give you the benefit of the rents for another six months.

I do not know if this is their last work but I would be only too pleased to approach them again to see if I could get a slightly better offer, though I did not think they would exceed £2500.

You will remember that I have written to you fully on several occasions stating that in my view it would be in your own interest to sell, especially having regard to the fact that the income you receive is now very small and you are faced with the fact of having a very short leasehold property which will depreciate rapidly if you retain the premises.

I hope by now you have received a full report from your Accountant and I await your instructions,.

Yours sincerely,
L Brimblecombe

* * * * *

To L Brimblecombe, Match & Co

November 14, 1959

Dear Mr Brimblecombe,

Re: 26 Belsize Crescent, NW3

I.  Many thanks for your letter LSB/JMC dated October 22nd 1959, which I am sure gives a very clear, fair and well-considered picture of the position.

In view of all you say I have now decided to seek a purchaser for the property at a price of £2500 (Two thousand, five hundred pounds).

Supposing the £2500 to be obtained, I should do as you suggest,—invest in 5% gilt-edged.  I could then, as you also point out, realise at any time after we returned to England for the purpose of buying a property.  It was never my idea to re-invest in property now.

II.  Meanwhile, and if the house is still unsold for £2500 near the time when the present unfurnished letting-agreements will expire, I do think we should very seriously consider the question of increasing the rents.

I am most indebted to you for the careful thought that you have given to the matter.

Yours sincerely,
W J Metcalfe

* * * * *

To John Metcalfe

Match & Co
November 17, 1959

Dear Mr Metcalfe,

re:  26 Belsize Crescent

Thank you for your letter of the 14th instant which crossed my recent letter.

I am pleased to say that I have spoken to my Clients and they have instructed me to say that they are prepared to pay £2500, subject to contract, and I gather from your letter that at this figure you would like to proceed.

Perhaps, therefore, you would let me know the name of the Solicitor who will be acting for you and also when you would like completion.

With regard to the re-investment of the capital you may be aware that most Local Authorities, including the Hampstead Borough Council, are now offering 5½% and this, of course, is not only gilt-edge but you are in a position to withdraw your money at any time.  As a matter of interest I have asked the Local Authority to send you full details, although naturally it is up to you to invest where you think best.

I await to hear from you.
Yours sincerely,
pp L S  Brimblecombe

* * * * *

It appears that the house was finally sold in late 1959, although there is no information as to the eventual buyer who probably decided, due to its poor condition and the likely cost of maintenance if it were to be kept as a dwelling house, to sell the house to a property developer.  In any case, when I decided in 2005 to visit Belsize Crescent to see the property for myself I was surprised to find not a spacious Edwardian family dwelling on a generous corner plot but a 1960s block of flats bearing the uninspiring name of “Akenfield House”.  A sad end to part of London’s literary history.

26 Belsize Crescent - google maps
Site of 26 Belsize Crescent [Google street view–image taken July 2017]

 

 

 

 

 

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