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.