Tesco Plans for Hadleigh, 1999-2013
Could it be that Tesco’s ambitions for Hadleigh are finally dead? We certainly hope so. Jan Byrne has written in the Hadleigh Community News to thank all those who worked towards this result. Of course she was far too modest to note her own contribution but if one person is to be singled out as the driving force behind this campaign it must be Jan. She has been the focal point of the campaign, in touch with all of the many players who could inform on or act towards our objective.
At each stage Hadleigh only just managed to prevail over the wealthier and more powerful players who wanted to impose these plans. After each result we learned lessons about what we needed to do to give the elected members of the Planning Committee the strength to reject the application. For the last round we had to field an impressive array of professional advocates, not an option available without significant funds, and we are very grateful that we had benefactors who could provide such means.
It wasn’t just Tesco we were up against. Developers for another supermarket first looked at the prospect in 1984 but their plans were turned down. Babergh District Council (that’s the officers and not necessarily the councillors), has been pushing since 1992 for a supermarket by the riverside. Planning Inspectors have not been so enthusiastic. Hadleigh Town Council and public opinion expressed through a referendum have been consistently against.
As the dust settles we now have the opportunity to think positively about the future of the Brett Works site. How should it be developed for the benefit of the town? We invite each and every one to join that debate.
Our History Group regularly works together on a chosen topic. For the past couple of years they have been researching the life of Hadleigh during the Great War and on Monday 9th December they presented the results of their labours. With each of the team relaying a different source: school, district council, newspaper, all was performed against a projected background of national events on the one hand and the lives of a few individuals on the other.
There was the slow build up, the priority of the harvest over recruitment in the first year. In later years the shortage of workers for the harvest led to children being kept from school to pick peas. In many ways we could imagine being in that world, many of the places being so familiar, but in other ways their world was very different. Their war and their farms still depended on horses. So did the fire engine, so when fire broke out at Raydon Mill the army provided the horses. Some buildings that we still know had wartime roles: quarters in the Town Hall, Lion Hotel, Co-op Stores. Meals in the Drill Hall. Some were less familiar: thehospital at Layham, the ‘British Schools’.
Much of the action was in foreign lands but there often were troops stationed in and around the town and just within the district boundary was Hadleigh Aerodrome, playing a small part. We heard of troop billetting, movements in and out of Hadleigh.
School children collected for good causes such as Belgian Refugees, had visits from soldiers who were old boys of the school, saw the wounded return by train, and even collected plant roots for medicine and eggs for the hospitals.
One of the sources was Simon Dewes’ A Suffolk Childhood. As a boy who grew up in the war it was normal life to him: hundreds under canvas in Holbecks Park, air raids. Hadleigh was 3201people in 1915 and 314 of these joined up before conscription,110 of them in the 5th Batallion of the Suffolk Regiment. By the Spring of 1915 five were dead. Another 15 died in August at Gallipoli. By 1918 61 had died. Amongst those lost were Jesse Goody, William Grimwood, Edmund Fromant, James Baker, James Pryke. Military Crosses went to Alfred Stannard and to Fred Emeny. A councillor lost a son, a teacher lost a brother and an uncle in the same week, the school caretaker lost a son, others included a popular teacher, and a member of the church choir. Throughout the presentation we tracked the fortunes of one soldier, Basil Ringer, portrayed on one of the screens, not knowing what his fate would be. We were relieved at the end to find that he returned safely.
The Hadleigh Society hadn’t had an away visit since 1995, when we visited a historic building. This time it was floating history, the sailing barge Victor, for a cruise from Ipswich down the Orwell to Harwich. Victor was built in 1895, worked under sail until 1947, passed through several owners and was brought back to her present excellent condition in 2005.
We left the Old Custom House at 10 and spent the next 6 hours afloat, going downstream under sail. The weather was good and dry but with no chance of sunburn so we could just lie back and appreciate one of the most scenic estuaries on our coast. The safety of passengers on the deck precluded use of the mainsail so progress down to Harwich was leisurely, using just a small area of canvas. With commercial shipping, ‘gin palace’ boats, sailing yachts and dinghies of all sizes there was plenty of company on the river, and we appreciated some familiar sights such as the Orwell Bridge, from new and changing angles.
Following the success of this venture we are inclined to look for further activities that might interest you, our members. If you have ideas, please let the committee know.
On Monday 3rd February Roger will once more entertain and inform us on some ‘Details and Oddities’ of The Brick Buildings of Hadleigh. Hadleigh Old Town Hall, 8pm as usual.