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The Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd, London

Founded in 1885 by Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915), the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company was established to provide “the industrial classes with commodious and healthy Dwellings at a minimum rent” and was primarily aimed at serving the Jewish population in East London, who suffered from overcrowding and poor accommodation. The company was formed as a commercial business, with a board consisting of other notable Jewish philanthropists such as Frederick Mocatta and Samuel Montagu. In addition to generating moderate and safe financial returns (of 4%), the directors were motivated by the clear social return which providing higher quality accommodation at affordable prices could provide.

A company prospectus for the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company was issued in 1885 stating the intention to erect on a 3/4 acre freehold site in Flower and Dean Street, Thrawl Street and George Street in Whitechapel a block of model dwellings to house about 186 Jewish families. It was estimated that if the rentals were based on a return of 4%, good accommodation - two rooms, a scullery and 'other convenience'- could be provided at a weekly rent of 5s per tenement. The Chairman of the company was Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915), and he subscribed £10,000. A further £70,000 share issue was launched in 1901, at which time it was reported that five blocks of dwellings had been opened since 1887: named Charlotte de Rothschild, Brady Street, Nathaniel, Stepney Green and Evelina housing a total of 4,465 persons in 948 tenements. The company also held the freehold of the Brady Street Club for Working Boys, 52, New Church Road, Camberwell (adjoining the Evelina Dwellings) which consisted of a shop and five rooms. The 1901 share issue was intended to develop a recently acquired site at Stoke Newington between Gordon Road and Victoria Road. Compared with other accommodation at the time, one dweller pronounced that, 'Rothschilds was luxury'.

Archive sources

The Archive holds very few papers of the Four Percent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd. A single copy of the original 1885 prospectus will be found in Loans business, Prospectuses, XIII/230/31. 

For information about life in the buildings of the company, see Rothschild Buildings: Life in an East End Tenement Block 1887-1920, Jerry White, (Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1980).

The Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company Ltd, London: photographs, 1958

000/2422/2, 9 items

Set of black and white photographs, taken as part of a review/audit of the estate of The Industrial Dwellings Society (1885) Limited in May 1958. The photographs have been extracted from a file in the NMR 58 series: Special Correspondence files of Mr Evelyn [later Sir Evelyn] de Rothschild (000/2703). Estates depicted are:

  • Charlotte de Rothschild Dwellings, Thrawl Street, Spitalfields, E.1 (1887)
  • Nathaniel Dwellings, Flower-and-Dean Street, Spitalfields, E.1 (1892)
  • Brady Street Dwellings, Brady Street, Whitechapel, E.1 (1890)
  • Mocatta House, Brady Street, Whitechapel, E.1 (1905)
  • Stepney Green Dwellings  Stepney Green, E.1 (1896)
  • Coronation and Imperial Avenues, (Stoke Newington Estate), Stoke Newington Road , N.16 (1903)
  • Evelina Mansions, New Church Road, Camberwell, S.E.5 (1901)
  • Navarino Mansions, Dalston Lane, Hackney, E.8 (1905)
  • Evelyn Court, Amhurst Road, Hackney, E.8 (1934)