Stirling Lodge in Epsom Road has been part of the Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation since 2009. It offers full-board en-suite rooms on a rental basis in the original Stirling Lodge building, more luxurious en-suite rooms in the Douglas Murray wing, also on a ental basis, and limted sick bay and assisted-living facilities in its Pat Davis wing. 10 two-bedroom life-right cottages were also added in 2008.

A Brief History of Stirling Lodge

Stirling Lodge was a project of the National Council of Women who had given much thought to the question of an old age home in the city and had come to the conclusion that it was too big a project to be handled by any single organisation.

They visualised the construction of a home for the aged of the middle income group of both sexes and accommodating between thirty and thirty-five people. The cost would be not less than £25,000, one-tenth to be raised locally, the balance to be financed by a loan from the National Housing and Planning Commission at an interest rate of 4 %.

On 7 December 1954 a meeting was held in the quadrangle of the City Hall with the Mayor, Councillor  H.N. Goddard, presiding with 111 private citizens and representatives of various organisations in attendance. Mrs E.C. Seward of the National Council of Women then addressed the meeting and moved that the project of establishing a Home for the Aged be proceeded with. The motion was seconded by Mr G.H. Randell and carried unanimously.

The first directors were elected on 11 September 1956, with Mrs E.C. Seward as Chairman. It was noted that a grant of land in Stirling had been made by the City of East London.

Whiting and Griffin were appointed auditors and Mr G. Albert as the company’s architect.

On 4 February 1957 revised building plans at a cost of £30,000 were approved. On 16 May 1958 the tender of £35,150 by Messrs McGillivray Bros for the construction of the Home, being the lowest of the eleven received, was accepted.

The building comprised an L-shaped East Wing and a West Wing, with 36 rooms, communal bathrooms, a few storerooms, a reception area, two lounges, a dining room and a kitchen.

On 6 February 1959 the following tariffs were agreed upon:

Single room £20 per month (£10 for food + £10 for room)

Double room (one person) £25 per month (£10 for food + £15 for room)

Double room (two persons) £35 per month (£20 for food + £15 for room)

The architect advised that Stirling Lodge would open on 1 October 1959.

On 5 December 1958 the foundation stone was laid by Mrs Seward.

In July 1958 a House Sub-committee of the Board was formed to oversee the day-to-day operations of the company including checking all accounts for payment. Over the years this proved to be of great benefit to the Board. For many years the House Committee, as it came to be known, enjoyed much support from the Anns of the Rotary Club of Arcadia.

In August 1959 Mrs D.M. Forster was appointed to the Lady Warden’s post at a monthly salary of £30!

In mid-1961 only 24 rooms were occupied whereas accommodation was available for 40 residents thus causing cash flow problems. The probable reason for this was the lack of nursing assistance. The solvency of Stirling Lodge was at best marginal with over R73,000 owing on the loan from the National Housing Commission and negotiations with the East London Association for the Chronic Sick for their use of the West Wing having failed.

As a result of an extensive advertising campaign occupancy had increased to an average of 39 per month by March 1964, the financial position had improved and a small profit achieved.   By March 1965 full occupancy had been achieved with a waiting list of 40.

By 1 January 1970 monthly tariffs had increased to R50 for a small single room, R62 for a large room for one and R80 for a double room for two.

During 1970, thanks to the receipt of three in memoriam bequests and a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Arcadia, a five-room extension to the West Wing was built.

In 1972 additional accommodation and other facilities for non-European staff and the erection of carports at an estimated cost of R15,000 was approved.

The City Council agreed to transfer to Stirling Lodge two portions of ground at a nominal purchase price of R2 each. It later agreed to transfer two erven, being the land between the western wing of the Lodge and the shops, to Stirling Lodge for the future building of low-rise high density housing.

On 9 June 1975 Mrs Seward announced her retirement as chairman, a position she had held for twenty years.  She was succeeded as chairman by Mr Belchers. In November 1984 she retired as a director after serving in that capacity for 34 years. She remained on the House Committee.

In 1978 a committee was appointed to investigate all aspects of the cottage scheme. It was also agreed to investigate the possibility of having private bathrooms and toilets attached to the existing bedrooms. In October 1982 The Douglas Murray Trust approved a grant of R1,000,000, plus escalation, for the building of additional accommodation on the vacant ground.    R1,300,000 was actually received.

In January 1983 plans for the proposed Douglas Murray Wing, prepared by Smale & Partners, were approved, the contractors being Murray & Roberts, at a contract price of R1,371,000.

Accommodation would comprise two suites, six double and 30 single rooms. It was agreed that it would be compulsory for its residents to partake of midday dinner in the dining room which was therefore extended to accommodate the Douglas Murray Wing residents. The first residents moved in at the beginning of February 1984.

Over the years a few rooms had been set aside for the residents requiring sick-bay facilities. In July 1987 a scheme was suggested for the area south of the Lodge adjoining the Sick-Bay to be set aside for the erection of an Assisted Living facility. This would be done in three phases at an estimated cost of R300,000. Early in 1989 the first phase was opened. By November 1990 there were five residents.

Mrs Pat Davis, a director and active member of the House Committee and who had become very involved as manager in a voluntary capacity, resigned in September 1992. In appreciation of her outstanding services it was agreed to name the Assisted Living Wing the Pat Davis Wing.

Following staff meetings in 1990 it was agreed that the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union was recognised as the official Trade Union.

In January 1991 funds on hand amounted to approximately R430,000. Plans were prepared for a building similar to the Douglas Murray Wing, referred to as Epsom Place, to be erected on the adjoining site. Time and again the project was postponed on the grounds that the climate was not right to market it. In 1995, after thorough investigation, it was abandoned on the grounds that it was not considered viable.

In January 1992 it was apparent that because of problems relating to Trade Unions no board member was prepared to take on the position of Chairman. After discussion it was decided to approach Mr Mogg of Berea Gardens with the view of their taking over the day-to-day running of Stirling Lodge at a market related fee. Agreement was reached with the effective date being l February 1992. This arrangement continued until May 2000 when the accounting function was again taken over by Stirling Lodge.

In September 1999 construction commenced on the Stirling Lodge bathroom project whereby en-suite bathrooms were built on at a cost of R1,095,000. Residents suffered no inconvenience as a number of vacant rooms were available.

In February 2002 the catering company ICC was appointed to provide daily meals.

In 2003 the erection of palisade fencing and beams around the perimeter of the property, at a cost of R301,268, was completed.

Early in 2004 the kitchen was upgraded at a cost of R170,345.

In July 2004 the Board agreed that because of the economics of scale and the resultant prohibitive high costs, it would not be possible to upgrade the existing assisted living to full care.

Expenditure of R159,675 was incurred on repairs to the Douglas Murray roof.

In July 2004 serious consideration was given to the proposed cottage project and how we should proceed. Later a plan showing 10 two-bedroomed cottages of 107.5 sq.m. in size was considered and it was agreed to liaise with Berea Gardens regarding the plans and marketing of the cottages. The cottage areas were subsequently altered to three of 114.85 sq.m. and seven of 116.23 sq.m.

At a special meeting of the Board of Directors held on 30 August 2005 details of the cottage project comprising ten cottages were again discussed and the necessary professional appointments confirmed. In July 2006 the Board finally agreed to proceed with the project and that a selling price of R700 000 per unit was not excessive.

Mr McRostie had generously provided suretyship to Sasfin Bank to enable it to provide the necessary guarantees to cottage purchasers.

A year later it was noted that the cottages should be readily marketable at that figure.

The estimated cost, including VAT of R1,059,468, was R8,624,152. Had the impact of VAT been recognised it is possible that the selling price would have been increased by more than the notional R10,000. All cottages were sold by December 2007.

The final cost of the Cottage Project inclusive of VAT was R8,862,694. The proceeds of the sale of life rights was R7,100,000, the difference of R1,762,964 being met out of funds built up over the years.

At an Extraordinary General Meeting held on 2 June 2008 it was agreed to transfer the management and responsibilities for the operation of the company to Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation. It was subsequently agreed that the Agreement of Transfer of assets and liabilities would take place on 1 April 2009. Thereafter the company would be deregistered.

Arrangements were made to celebrate the 50<sup>th</sup> anniversary of Stirling Lodge on 5 December 2008.

The Agreement between the Stirling Lodge Housing Utility Company and the Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation was signed by D. Hamilton and M.J. Schulze on 23 February 2009.