A brief history of the United Charities of Abel Collin

Collins Almshouses in Friar Lane, looking south west. The drawing dates from c. 1915.
Collin's Almshouses in Friar Lane, looking south west. The drawing dates from c. 1915.

The United Charities of Abel Collin date back to 1708. In that year land was bought for 24 almshouses in what is now Friar Lane, Nottingham by Thomas Smith, acting as executor for his late uncle Abel Collin (1653-1705) whose will of 1704 included provision for 'some little houses' as well as for buying coal for the poor. 

Abel Collin seems to have been a very private man but he was, nevertheless, very aware of the needs of others. Thomas Smith was the son of Abel Collin's sister Fortune and her husband Thomas Smith (the elder), a mercer whose family had originally been small landowners in Cropwell Bishop. His founding of Smith's Bank in 1688 is commemorated by a plaque on the wall of the National Westminster Bank at the corner of Exchange Walk.

Another son of Thomas (the elder), Abel, was the forebear of the Abel Smith family. Abel Smith is commemorated by a window in the north aisle of St Peter's Church.

Collin's Almshouses in Carrington Street as they appeared shortly after erection.
Collin's Almshouses in Carrington Street as they appeared shortly after erection.

Thomas Smith (the younger) bought a further plot of land in the Broad Marsh/ Friar Lane area to provide income for the charity. In 1829 another group of 20 almshouses was built on part of the site. In 1936 this property was sold; the proceeds enabled the trustees to build 26 houses on the site in Derby Road where the charity is now based.

The Friar Lane almshouses continued as a well-known Nottingham landmark until 1958 when they were demolished as part of the Maid Marian Way development. The compensating transaction with the City Council consisted of cash to build a further 24 dwellings at Derby Road and the transfer of commercial property in Chapel Bar.

In 1982 and 1986 the trustees were able to build two groups of three bungalows using a generous legacy from Mrs Marion Kitching and a grant from the Skerritt Trust. In 1990 a further group of three bungalows was added using the charity's accumulated funds from the Chapel Bar commercial property which it then owned.

In 2009 four two-bedroomed bungalows were built, bringing the total number of properties on the site to 63.