In 1935 the ICE Benevolent Fund management committee drew up plans for 20 two bedroomed houses - each costing £600. The committee had become appalled at some of the accommodation engineers were living in, particularly those surviving on the then old age pension of £26 a year.
Plans were revised to build 38 houses by 1938, costing £37,000. The original idea of low-cost dwellings was later revised to houses with 'a certain dignity which should pertain to a charitable trust in possession of a great intellectual institution'.
Work began on 1 December 1938 and was complete by 1951.
Administrative secretary Linda McCarthy said: 'The estate was a lifeline for some of the early residents because much of it was built 10 years before the National Assistance Act of 1948 at a time when there were very, very few state benefits,' said McCarthy.
. . . and present
THE ESTATE today has 15 houses and 14 flats for beneficiaries. At present, the accommodation is 50% occupied by beneficiaries and 50% by commercial tenants. The tenants, who preferably have some connection to civil engineering, are on short-term tenancies, with rents contibuting to the the fund before the property is filled by a beneficiary.
Recent improvements to the estate include new central heating, a new administration block and a refurbished roadway. New lighting will be put in shortly.
Residents are within walking distance of a big supermarket and the train station which is one hour from London.
Residents have to be able to live at Mill Hill Close independently. McCarthy says: 'We get so many letters from people saying they would like to come to our sheltered homes. This is not sheltered housing but we can nominate residents for places with Hanover Housing Association, which provides sheltered housing for over-60s.