LONDON'S NEW HERO.
THE NEW OWNER OF COVENT GARDEN.
Each year brings m London its hero in finance. In 1912 it was Mr Birch Crisp, who arranged the famous £6,000.000 . loan • for China. Iho year before the honours were with Mr Speyer the German who has- made London his home and brought about the combine of the great city's traffic. Now has come Mr Mallaby-Deeley, tne Tory M.P. for the Harrow division of Middlesex, who has paid the Duke of Bedford £3,000,000. for 19 acres lying round about Covent Garden, and embracing not only the historic markets, but also Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatres and a number of other buildings of scarcely less national interest. Mr Mallaby : Deeley is a highly interesting personality. He is very casual about his huge transactions. _ He does not even claim to be a business man. Until six or seven years ago he seems to have lived quietly upon the proceeds of his wealth, and not to have troubled himself about speculative investments. He does it now, he says, more as a hobby than anything else."
A Paying Hobby. Bub Mr Mallaby-Deeley sees to it that his hobby pays. Unless the ex pert land valuers of London are very badly at fault, he has secured a rare bargain in this last and greatest of his deals in the soil of London. When the transaction was announced the price was not disclosed, and naturally there was much speculation and careful estimate as to what the figure would be. Taking the price of other land in the immediate vicinity, including that upon which the Commonwealth building is now being erected, as a guide, the money ■ paid' to the Buke of Bedford was placed between £7,000,000 and £9,000,000. The announcement that it was only £3,000,000 has caused the greatest astonishment. Where the experts went wrong was in assuming that the Duke as a voluntary seller got as much for 19 acres as the London Council was compelled to pay for adjoining land when it was exercising compulI sory resumption. Apparently the Duke, whd has the reputation of being one of the most generous-minded of the world's millionaires, was not disposed to sell his land piece-meal. He would realise that there were hot, perhaps, three men in the United Kingdom who would buy it at any price, especially during this season of scarce money. So, finding a purchaser and a keen business man in Mr Mallaby-Deeley, he came speedily to terms. The actual negotiation is said to have taken less than half an hour. Mr Mallaby-Deeley made an. offer v6ry close to the final without even inspecting the property. After all, what is an extra million pounds to a millionaire duke who has infinitely more money than he can conceivably know what to do with? Mr Mallaby-Deeley. emphatically denies that he is acting for a syndicate. He is equally emphatic that he has no definite scheme about the future of the area. He says he mere]" regards it as a good investment for his r^ey, with excellent speculative possibilities. The risk is sin.nll—the possible profits are immeasurable.
i Financial Genius. Mr Mallaby-Dceley gave London a taste of his financial qualities when he stepped in two or three years ago and bought' the Piccadilly" Hotel "for" £50,000. The hotel, which was almost brand new, had cost two or three times that money to build, but owing to unfortunate circumstances, had involved its promoters in a huge loss. Mr Mai- j laby-Deeley turned it over to a company at a big profit, and the new owners are now paying from 35 to 50 per cent; interest upon the ordinary shareholders' capital. Since then Mr Mal-laby-Deeley has bought St. James's Court, and also cleaned that up at a big profit. Then he acquired St. George's Hospital, which stands on the wonderful site opposite to Hyde Park Gates, for £400,000; and it is said to be his intention to build a new hotel there at a cost of £600,000. Probably, however, the hotel will be the work oi somebody else, and Mr Mallaby-Deeley will again take his profit and move on. The terms ofi the Covent Garden premises are not disclosed. But it is denied that the money is to be paid in relatively small instalments over an extended period. Probably Mr MallabyDeeley is raising a mortgage for thebulk of the money at about 4| per cent., and the Duke of Bedford is receiving cash. Mr Mallaby-Deeley indicates the wealth of England. A man of his met- ! tie would, if he were an American, have his name known throughout the world. In London there are plenty of MallabyDeeleys, and one never hears of them until they die, or once in a way come into public notice by some sensational transaction. In the House of Commons, Mr Mallaby-Deeley is a nonentity. He is conspicuous among Tory landlords, .however, because he expresses no sort of fear about; the effect of Mr Lloyd-George's 'proposed land campaign. "The Chancellor's proposals," he said in an interview, "will not do any haFin to the man ,who is determined to be a good landlord to his tenants. I have no fear that any legislation will deteriorate the value of property, either in the country or. in the town, of a landlord who is prepared to deal squarely and generously with his tenants. That is my position."
The Famous Russells. The announcement that the tenants of the estate were 'to receive the same, and possibly even better, terms than those granted by the Duke of Bedford, was received with much satisfaction. One hears less evil about the Duke of Bedford, says one writer, than about any of his titled fellows. In fact, you find the Nonconformist Press actually applauding the late owner of Covent Garden. Perhaps this is because-the Russells have always stood for reform. "It was a, Russell," a writer in the "Daily News" reminds us, "who expended his labour and his wealth in draining the vast fenlands known as the Bedford level; it was a Russell who laid down his life on the scaffold in Lincoln's Inn Fields in defence of English liberty; it was a Russell who was one of the foremost in nddmg the nation of the Stuart Kings; it was a Russell who commanded our fleet in the decisive victory of La Hogue. In more recent times, it was a Russell who carried the first Reform Bill, and throughout his long life was a staunch champion of civil and religious liberty. ' In " The Story of a Groat Agricultural Estate," published by the present Duke himself, he said that his great property, Woburn, returns him a net revenue of 2* per cent., while Thorney returns him only 1 per cent. Ihe family has, of course, made huge profits by "unearned increment '/ on the
Covent Garden area and in the Bloomsbury district, and it is said to have been a definite policy of the present Duke and his father to make, concessions to their farming and market gardening tenants at the expense ot thentenants in London. It is interesting^*) recall that Covent Garden (originally Convent Garden) was, when takerr from the monks, granted by King^ Mward VI. to his uncle, the Duke of Somerset. Upon the execution of Somerset it returned to the; Crown, »nd_ in 1p02..it was bestowed upon John, Earl ot .Bed ford. Its yearly value at that time was-stated'at £6 6s Bd, or,if allowance is made for the difference m the value of-money, at from £60 to £80/. London has moved since those days.
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LONDON'S NEW HERO., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8801, 23 February 1914
LONDON'S NEW HERO. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIII, Issue 8801, 23 February 1914
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