Osias was born in Poland in 1897. In 1939, leaving his wife and children in Poland with the intention of settling them in England once he could obtain visas, he set sail from Danzig for the UK. It turned out that Osias’ ship was the last to leave the port before the Nazi invasion. His wife and three children fled Danzig but were caught and, tragically, perished in the holocaust.
In London’s East End, he was virtually penniless but hard working, and eight years later in 1947 remarried, to Nechama Stempel. Their two sons, Benzion Freshwater and Solomon Freshwater are the two executive directors of the company today.
Landmark London properties were acquired by the Freshwater family in the 1950s, and in 1959 their empire was sufficiently established to warrant a stock market listing. They chose the parsimonious method of a reverse takeover. Assets then amounted to £4m and shares traded at 29p.
It grew rapidly through the 1960s – in one transaction over 3,000 houses and flats were bought at “what today would seem a paltry consideration” (company website) - becoming London’s “largest private landlord”. They bought and still own many 1920s and 1930s mansion blocks.
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