Between The Wars
as remembered by Cecil Gynn
I came to live in Hadleigh in 1913 when I was about nine years old. My father worked at Peyton Hall and we lived in Peyton Hall cottages, which have been pulled down now. I started work at twelve on the land and learnt to plough with the horses. In harvest time I used to look after 21 horses but that was what my father and grandfather had always done before me. They were all farmers.
Ploughing all day, that used to take some doing at 12, and we used to have some young horses down there and a couple of Clydesdales and when I got to the end they used to nearly knock me into the ditch when I turned the plough round. You’ve got to be tidy strong for that. But I stuck it out and used to go to school at night at Mr. Harris’ down at Bridge Street. I used to learn more going down there 2 nights a week than if I went the full week. I was a good scholar.
I used to go out at 7 o’clock and stop at half-past ten for bake (breakfast) then go back and work till quarter to three. Then you’d have your dinner hour and go back to get the hay in or I used to go out to the mill at Aldham which was a water wheel and used to belong to us, to do the grinding.
In those days there were one or two old Fords about and one or two tractors but it was mainly horses and carts for getting about or pushbikes (no gears on them in those days so they REALLY were PUSH BIKES! Ed.) Mostly though it was Shank’s pony (walking). I then went to work for Emeney’s Haulage Contractors taking a horse and cart up to the Railway Station to collect various items for delivery to folks in the town.
Small items were delivered by hand-carts and the bigger items by the horse and cart. .I remember on one occasion having to deliver a truck load of bikes from the station to Girlings and it was as much as I could do to get them onto the horse-drawn trolley down to Girlings opposite the Co-op. When I told Gordon they were cash on delivery he said he hadn’t ordered them so I had to take them back up to the station. The stationmaster had to sort that one out with Raleigh’s. But I had to take them all back to the shop again and he gave me a shilling.
Then the railways took over the haulage and I went on to lorries.
We used to get malt from Wilson’s Maltings and take it up to Trent and than cut a load of coal from the collieries and bring it back.
The lorry I drove on long-distance work was a chain-driven Scammell and I tumbled that right up to Carlisle. Started off about 5.30 in the morning and got there about 7 at night. And then we got lorries on solid tyres. We took barley up to Trent and then carried on up to Perth to pick up seed potatoes. Then later on we got tip-top lorries, 15, 16, 20 tons.
In my time I worked on draglines, carted the coal, drove steamrollers, as well as working with the horses and looking after them.
I remember a lot of pubs -long since closed down, like the Fishmonger’s Arms in Benton where you could also win a basket of freshly caught fish, by spinning an arrow on a wheel for the lucky number. The first house in Benton next to the Memorial used to be a pub called The Swan. Then there was The King’s Arms (they called that The Monkey), and the Falcon. Then further down the street there was The Lion and the George and there was another one over the other side of the road which they turned into a barber’s shop. The Tuns then The Mutton and over the bridge on the left where Babergh is now one that I think was called The Anchor and then the Donkey. Up George Street there were The Plough, The Cock and The Bells.
You’ve never seen so many pubs in your life and with beer at tuppence a pint no one ever went thirsty!
There used to be a great variety of shops. The hardware store was Taylors before it became Partridges and there was Salters over the road which also became part of Partridges and now is Edwards. Kersey’s Harness Makers, now Hicks —several newsagents, bakers where bread was cooked on the premises so you could buy hot fresh bread every day if you could afford it. There were also fish shops.- I remember old Smokey Smith used to fry a good bit of fish, sweet shops, a dairy, barber’s, a dress shop and drapers, Elliotts shoe shop, and several butchers. There was a rag and bone merchant and Foresters, the chemist, and a branch of Boots the Chemist as well so folks could get whatever they wanted right here in town.
Where the Building Society is now there was a shop where old Miss Alma used to have a pork butchers. Further down there was the Registrar for births and deaths. Next are the big houses and the big one in the middle was where my mother and father had a boarding house when they moved from Peyton Hall. Old Doc Everett had a big house and his surgery was around the back. He was a good old boy.
Round the corner there were three little cottages where an old man used to bake doughnuts and take them out in his basket. We used to trip him up for fun.
At the bottom end of the High Street where there is now the bookshop, greengrocer etc., there used to be a cinema. I remember when it opened and I went to the very first show which was the film of Jack and the Beanstalk and a Western. There was a big man winding up the film and it used to break down halfway through. It used to cost you 4d to sit at the front, a shilling for a seat in the middle, and if you wanted to be at the back it cost you one shilling and sixpence. On that first night so many people wanted to go and see the film that they started queuing long before the doors were opened so that by the time they did open they were queuing right back as far as George Street.
On the other side of the road going back there was old Miss Tippy Norfolk who used to be a character, then John Forester the chemist.
The paper shop used to be a foreign butcher’s that used to sell horse meat.
Hogg, the newsagent’s father was the Town Crier who used to give us all the news and we had a Town Band which used to play on George Street corner where Tooks is now. I was In the Lad’s Brigade and used to play the trombone and I remember being told that if you sucked a lemon you couldn’t blow. So Wally Grew and I and another friend tried it one day to find out if it was true. It was! We used to get up to all sorts of tricks - I remember one night four of us were locked up in the police station where the library is now, because we knocked a policeman’s hat off.
I remember the barber used to keep the Gazette in there and one of us used to go in to have his hair cut and 6 others went in with him to read the paper.
Next was the place where I kept 8 horses and one of them was a real tough one and one day he backed into the wall and knocked it down into the kitchen next door and there was old Brett the hairdresser eating his dinner. That horse was a real terror, he was all right with me though. I remember him knocking down the ice cream cart one day coming down the road from the station.
The other side of the Town Hall was a corset factory (we used to call it the Stay Factory). My wife went down there to work when she left school and used to get 4 shillings a week. And the old fire station with the red door used to be in the courtyard. Then there was the Guildhall and we used to have all different things on there. I remember the floor fell through one night.
I worked for Emeney’s for 29 years until Mr. Emeney retired, and then a farm took it over and I went in it. I had 14 years there as a director until I retired and then went to work for Dragoco on the Industrial Estate, and I still look after the grass for them.
This was recorded around 1990 when Cecil was 85
years old and still looking after Dragoco’s grass. Sadly he is no longer
John is a one time Royal Marines Commando with a
passion for wild flowers, birds and butterflies. His high1ight on a recent
cruise to the Canary Islands was the sighting of African monarchs
He has lived in Hadleigh for close on 12 years since retiring from British Telecom International where, among other things, he was involved with the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation and was the British delegate to conferences in member countries.
Since moving to Suffolk he has been a warden of the Suffolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Groton Wood and served on the local committee of the trust. He was the founder of the Hadleigh and District Probus Club, and has been secretary of the local branch of a political party.
In the past he was an enthusiastic long distance walker, having completed the Pennine Way, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, the Cotswold Way, Offa’s Dyke Path and the Hadleigh Riverside Walk (among others). He retired from this activity after falling down a hole near Ramsey Wood and injuring a knee.
John is a semi-professional model maker, specialising in ship models for museums and private collections. The warship models previously on display in the Hadleigh Ram were his work. He is currently making doll’s houses and furniture.
The stabilising influence in his life is Barbara, well known and loved in Hadleigh and surrounding villages from her years as District Nursing Sister. They now live happily in Angel Street.
Local History Week – Study Day
The Historical Association in conjunction with the BBC History Magazine are organizing a national Local History Week from May 4th to 12th. The Society as part of that week have organised a study day to be held on Saturday 11th May titled Timber and Bricks. The morning speakers will be:-
After lunch participants will have the choice of two out of three guided tours:-
1. Tour of Hadleigh, to look at timber buildings
2. Tour of Hadleigh, to date brick work.
3. Tour of the Guildhall complex.
Tickets for the day are £15 which includes coffee and tea. A “ploughman’s” lunch will be available for about £3.
Tickets are available from:-
and at Society meetings.
Cheques should be made payable to the Hadleigh Society
Jim Betteridge has been responsible for this Newsletter since the earliest days of the Society. Before that he had a long career in aviation, following service in the RAF during and after the Second World War. During that period he saw many parts of the world and amongst the world events he saw was the Berlin Airlift of 1948. Come to the Old Town Hall on Tuesday 5th February to hear his first hand account of that critical event in East-West politics.
As you will have seen in the East Anglian Daily Times and may have heard on BBC Radio Suffolk, Tesco are again talking to the Planning Officers at Babergh regarding their building a Supermarket on the Riverside site.
At present there are no proposals available for the ‘public’ to view but from conversations we have had with some residents in Bridge Street it would appear that Tesco will be looking to make their access from Bridge Street.
From a briefing note sent to Babergh Councillors it appears that the Planning Officers are trying to get the Riverside site allocated for a supermarket in the Babergh Local Plan, Alteration No 2. This, of course, is what the Planning Officers tried to put into the Alteration No 1 in 1993.
Should their plan include access via Bridge Street it would come up against similar objections as applied to the High Street.
Bridge Street is in the conservation area: a number of the adjacent buildings are listed including three at grade 2* and the bridge is listed grade 2. The traffic problems are similar, the road is narrower with a ‘pinch point’ at the Calais Street junction, and a number of the houses at the junction are also listed. It would require a roadway to be built across a water meadow which has not been farmed in living memory and is likely to have protected species in it.
We will monitor the situation and try to keep you informed as it develops.
Alteration No 2
Members of the Executive Committee studied the draft alterations (which are available for all to see on the Babergh website). We made comments on several areas, which Babergh will take into account in producing the issued version. Many are points of detail but some of the themes covered were:
That Hadleigh currently thrives and actively preserving its built environment will yield a continued economic benefit.
A Hadleigh tourist policy should be produced, based on a collaboration of interested local parties including the Town Council.
The importance of home delivery to the viability of country life.
The need to encourage small retailers rather than large. Relate retail operations to the character of places such as Hadleigh and Sudbury, enhancing character, vitality, viability.
The lack of support for local suppliers in supermarket purchasing policies.
That east as well as west of the River Brett should be included in the Special Landscape Area.
The opportunity to provide less hazardous parking for HGVs on the extended Lady Lane Industrial estate.
The need for more coordination between levels and departments of government, for instance in relating housing plans to the provision of education and medical services.
John Bloomfield has been elected chairman of the East of England Group of Civic Trust Societies and has arranged a brainstorming session with the principal officers of the Civic Trust to thrash out exactly what civic trust Societies can achieve as a group, bearing in mind that total affiliated membership for the East of England alone is in the order of 90.000 people This is partially in response to the many central and local government documents which make constant reference to the need to involve the voluntary sector.
Part of regionalisation is a proliferation of QUALGOs (Quasi Autonomous Local Government Organisations), with, it would seem, working towards substantially removing County responsibilities but expanding District Council’s and possibly Town Council’s roles. At least a dozen bodies appear to have a need for more regional voluntary body input, from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, (CABE), which replaced the Royal Fine Arts Commission to the East of England Environmental Forum (EEEF). Substantial changes and developments are beginning to evolve. John will report back as more information emerges.
John Bloomfield is keen to assemble any information about Hadleigh Airfield, anecdotes about flying in the Area, stories about Raydon Airfield and anything air and Hadleigh associated. For example, did anyone in Hadleigh actually fly in an Airship or did anyone fly to South Africa on the Empire Flying Boats. First hand information preferred, with the sight of photos or any other memorabilia greatly appreciated.