Accordingly, in 1905 the first cottage for orphans was
opened. In 1911 the name was changed to the Furnishing Trades Benevolent
Association (the FTBA). The number of residents rose swiftly over the following
years and in 1921 Radlett House in Highgate was purchased and converted to
accommodate the growing number of children. In anticipation of the outbreak of
war in 1939, the children were moved to a new residence called Stone Court in
St Leonards on Sea in Sussex. This large house had four acres of gardens for
the children to enjoy.
However, it soon became apparent that it would be necessary
to place the children in a safer location and they were temporarily evacuated
to various private homes in the Bedford area. In 1940 the FTBA was offered a
property at Aspley Guise in Bedfordshire, another large house with extensive
grounds, and in December the children were reunited in their new home. The new
residence was named Radlett House after its predecessor, the original Radlett
House, having been leased to Middlesex County Council.
The council eventually bought the property in 1982. The 1945
FTBA annual report states that boys and girls between the age of five and 15
and a half could be accepted into the home at Aspley Guise. At the end of their
residency they would then be placed in suitable employment unless special
circumstances dictated that they should remain at the home for an extended
period. The younger children attended the school at Aspley Heath, while the
older ones attended the Harpur Trust Central School in Bedford, the Cedars
Grammar School in Leighton Buzzard or the Technical School in Bletchley.
Apprentice allowances were granted to some former residents
to maintain them during the beginning of their careers. The objective of
providing childcare for children in need continued in the post-war years when
the type of care changed to provide more integration with the local community
and the scope expanded to provide care for children from many different
backgrounds. However, the number of resident children at Radlett House slowly
declined and in 1963, with only six children remaining, the home was closed.
The last six children were transferred to the Royal
Alexandra and Albert School in Reigate. In 2010, in response to the demands of
the new century, the charity changed its name from the FTBA to the Furnishing
Industry Trust (FIT).
In 2013 the FIT merged with City of London livery company which has enabled a significant extension of the range and scale of our charitable activities.
In 2016 founder of DFS, the Lord Kirkham CVO, was named charity president and continues to be a great supporter of the organisation.