Maureen Watson née Simpson

Memories of the Salvation Army

Life at The Colony

My parents, Edith and Herbert Simpson were married in Hadleigh, Suffolk, my mother was a Salvationist, as were all her family.  After moving down to number 5 Seaview Terrace, Hadleigh, Essex on the Salvation Army Colony grounds, they adopted me.  I was a war baby, born in March 1941 and  Edith and Herbert or Herbie as everyone used to call him, were the best parents ever. My mum and dad were wonderful, they thoroughly spoiled me.

All the photos on this page were taken by my family over the course of my very happy childhood spent in and around Hadleigh.

As a child I had a friend called Ingrid, she used to come and spend two or three weeks with us in the summer holidays.  From early in the morning Ingrid and I used to go out with my dad and help him on the farm, we would go right down to the railway line. He used to have a kind of a rake thing to use on the land, with the help of his two Suffolk Punches he would work the land. He wore knee length leather buskins for this job and he suffered badly with hammer toes, he still wore those boots all day.

There were many animals on the farm including the two Suffolk Punches that you can see in the photos.  I used to drive the horses sometimes when I was a child and I did learn to drive the tractor.

My first school days from age five to eleven were spent at Hadleigh Primary School, then I went on to Shipwrights School but I think it’s called King John now.  I used to go from the Colony, past the piggery and then the field where the cows were and I used to walk to school at King John.  Sometimes I would borrow my dad’s bike, it was huge. I don’t know why it seemed so huge, it was so tall. I got on it and I rode it and I knew which was my bike when I needed to find it, I didn’t have to worry where it was.  Eventually, I saved up enough money to buy my own.

In two of the photos you can see a good friend of the family whose name was Vincent Mapley, he used to work with my father ploughing the land.

One particular memory I have, which I think was during the war years,  was of looking at the Salvation Army’s War Cry magazine. There were photos of the Army’s  red vans that would park up in all different places locally and you could buy a cup of tea, it didn’t matter where you stopped you could usually find a red van and some welcome refreshment.

My mother didn’t work, in those days a woman didn’t, she stayed at home to look after the family.  Sometimes, my mother would do little jobs at the Salvation Army such as clearing up or stitching, when needed.

I wanted to be a hairdresser when I left school but I ended up working at Freeman, Hardy & Willis. Then someone from the Colony asked me if I had ever thought about working up in London in insurance. So I got an interview and got the job and from there I went on to work at  Southend Hospital where I was employed as a ‘runner’, I used to have to fetch patients notes ready for the next days clinic.

In 1964 at the age of 23 I married John Watson at the Salvation Army Temple and we went to live in Leigh Hall Road.    Not long after we adopted two wonderful children of our own, Esther and Matthew. Eventually, with help from the family, we moved to Flemming Crescent.

I have many memories of Hadleigh as a child.  There was a doctors’ surgery at the top of Castle Road, where  Garstons shoe shop is now, right on the corner. It was a big house and that’s where we had our doctor.  Dr McGladdery was a lovely chappie, he was my doctor and there was also a chappie that owned the place but it’s all gone now.

Then there was Lucky’s Grill, just near the old horse pond (opposite what was the Waggon & Horses).  My husband and I, or my boyfriend at that time, used to go in there and have a hamburger between us. We were saving up to get married, it was unbelievable.

The Kingsway was a wonderful cinema, they had the most wonderful organ. I have a feeling that the organ went to a hospital but I’m not sure.

When you came up Castle Lane there was a great big bus shelter in the middle,  just near the church and graveyard. It was massive and me and my friends would sit in there but it’s all gone now.  Also, there was a little place that would sell you teas and coffees, just near the shelter.  Further along near the Salvation Army Temple was a chappie, he had so much rubbish there and he had a sweet shop. After the war you could get sweets when they came off ration. Eventually, they took it all away and built flats.

The Salvation Army Temple where I was married has also changed now. There was a terrible hurricane and it was pulled down and a new one was built. The old one was fine but you had to go downstairs to get the coke for the heating, so they made it all more modern. It’s a lovely hall now.

I don’t really visit the Hadleigh Colony very often now but I do occasionally go back.  All my memories of my childhood are wonderful.  I was a little monkey when I was younger and Ingrid and I used to get up to all sorts of things but I wouldn’t change anything.


Posing for a photo in my Salvation Army uniform.
Maureen Watson
John and me on our Wedding Day at The Colony in 1964.
Maureen Watson
My father on the farm, the railway line can be seen in the background.
Maureen Watson
My father outside the stables.
Maureen Watson
Father working on a winters day at The Colony.
Maureen Watson
Father with his best suit on.
Maureen Watson
My father stands beside the horse and trap.
Maureen Watson
My father with Vincent Mapley, family friend and helper.
Maureen Watson
At The Colony entrance, my father and Vincent with a waggon load of hay.
Maureen Watson
Father with the horses on The Downs.
Maureen Watson
Father with the horses.
Maureen Watson
My husband John, at The Army Camp. c. 1965
Maureen Watson
Me with 'The Bull' - May 1965
Maureen Watson
Me on the right of the photo and another of my friends, Irene. - May 1965
Maureen Watson
Me on The Colony. c.1965
Maureen Watson
Me again, on The Colony - c 1965
Maureen Watson
Father with the two horses raking the land. April 1965
Maureen Watson
My father on the trailer (wearing the hat). Standing in the foreground wearing glasses is Reg Burrell.
Maureen Watson
My father on the farm.
Maureen Watson
My father on the farm.
Maureen Watson

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  • What a great read Maureen, I’m trying to remember how many horses there were, the breeds and names, any idea please? Roger Shinn

    By ROGER JOHN SHINN (06/10/2021)
  • Hi Maureen,

    This is a lovely read! I have very fond memories of Hadleigh as I was growing up. My Grandma Rita and my Grandad Ron (Sadly now passed) live at Number 5 Seaview Terrace – I just asked my mum, she can’t remember when they moved there but it was before I was born so well over 30 years now!

    Thank you for sharing this story especially since I know the house quite well!


    By Kiel Stratford (03/08/2020)
  • I remember Maureen Simpson she was in my class at Benfleet Secondary School as it was then called. My best friend was Julie Grocott and I still write to her from Australia we were in all the sport teams at school also Jean Trew from Hadleigh use to hang around with us.

    By Stella Sutherland nee Bouchereau (11/02/2020)
  • Hi,

    You may remember my grandfather Stewart Pike who was a full time Salvation Army worker. In 1954 my mother, Lydia Axford nee Pike, returned to the UK after my father Stephen Axford (Congregational Church, Yeoville, Johannesburg, SA) passed away. I attended the Benfleet secondary modern school in 1955/56 until we returned to South Africa. We lived at 20 Broughton Road, Hadleigh. The house was named ‘Dungannon’ after my grandfather’s connection to Ireland. I remember three names from the school; Michel Morgan, Fay Thurlough and Linda Mackie. I wonder if you have ever come across them?

    Martin Axford

    2, Denmyr

    65, 7th Street, Linden,

    Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa, 2195

    By Martin Axford (16/02/2017)
  • A nice article Maureen, thanks for posting it, some lovely memories of life on the Colony. Perhaps this can be added to the Hadleigh Archive website too, as you will find a lot of Salvation Army Colony article there ( I am one of the Hadleigh Archive team). Are you related to Wilfred Simpson, an early Colony Governor 1915-1916? You friend Ingrid is my neighbour, so I will make sure she sees your article. Not sure about Hadleigh Temple being pulled down because of a hurricane? It was built in 1938 and pulled down for the new one which was opened in 2003. You may be interested to see my book “Hadleigh Salvation Army Farm- A Vision Reborn” available from the Tea Rooms or I could get a copy to you.  Thank you again for your article. Graham Cook

    By Graham Cook (29/09/2015)

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