Is Avenue House closing down?

Yesterday I got a call from Mike Langton, a press officer for Barnet Council, saying I would have the full details by the end of yesterday. I also got a call from Janett Durrant of Avenue House promising me information after their board meeting yesterday.

I didn’t receive anything from the Council yesterday, and from Avenue House, I received an email saying would I hold up any more articles until they could put together some information for me. Naturally I told her I couldn’t do this.

This morning I received the following from an unnamed council spokesman via Mike Langton at the Barnet Council Press Office: “The Council is the Corporate Trustee of The Avenue House Estate, the freeholder of the property. Avenue House Estate Trust (AHET) hold a 125 year lease of the property expiring in the year 2127. AHET are entirely responsible for the management of the estate, principally Avenue House, its outbuildings, The Bothy and the grounds, which have full public access. “The council is therefore merely a trustee of the property and has to accord with the terms of the trust. As far as the council is aware there are no plans to dispose of the property.”

This, unfortunately opens up more questions than it answers as, essentially, this doesn’t explain why the council, and the trust, have been so secretive. One such question is, what would happen if the Avenue House Estate Trust ran out of funds and had to liquidate, and is this likely?

I asked our Arrow Historian, Stewart Wild, what he thought about this new development. He said: “Whatever the future of Avenue House, it is essential that the house and grounds remain freely available and in public ownership. This is because, under the terms of his will, local benefactor and former MP Henry ‘Inky’ Stephens, whose home this was from 1874 until 1918, left his estate on his death “to the people of Finchley”, and as such we believe it should under no circumstances be sold by the Council or anyone else into private ownership.”

Andrew Ampers Taylor.

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7 Responses to “Is Avenue House closing down?”

  1. David Lewis Says:

    This is very vague, and it would be interesting to read the terms of the trust deed because this would presumably set out the powers of the Council. These could, for example, include the power to appoint and dismiss the trustees of AHET. The expression “merely a trustee” suggests a smokescreen: are the Council trying to divert attention from the fact that they have more power in this matter than they are letting on?

  2. David Lewis Says:

    I mean the Council’s statement is very vague.

  3. Pat Dunnill Says:

    Inky Stephens left the Avenue House Estate to the people of Finchley, subject to the condition that it be “open for the use and enjoyment always of the public”. Finchley Council accepted the bequest but then wondered what to do with it. The Church End Ratepayers suggested various uses.
    Stephens’ family also made several suggestions and at a court hearing in December 1926 counsel for the family declared that the Estate should be accepted in toto or be rejected altogether, in which case it would return to the family. Furher resolutions were received from the Ratepayers. Transfer to Finchley UDC was completed on October 6th 1927, i.e. nearly ten years after Stephens’ death. There was a formal opening on May 3rd 1928.

  4. Pat Dunnill Says:

    Have you heard anything more – from Janett Durrant or the Council about Avenue house, please?

    • Ampers Says:

      Nothing. From my last conversation, nothing was denied, but I was told it would take time to put any information together and I was asked not to put anything into the paper until then. If I had listened to Janett, I still would not have published anything.

  5. Pat Dunnill Says:

    Is there any further news about Avenue House, Please????

  6. Ampers Says:

    Nothing more at the moment, Pat, the newly created “Friends” are holding more events and you can get on their mailing list by emailing avenuehousefriends@yahoo.co.uk


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