Hadleigh Colony History

world war one and the inter-war years 1914-1939

The outbreak of the First World War had inevitably a devastating effect on British society and the Colony was no exception. One immediate effect was the arrival of wounded soldiers, including some from Belgium, who came to Hadleigh to convalesce.

The success of the Hadleigh scheme had relied very heavily on the very generous ratio of supervisory staff to the number of colonists. The 'Call to Arms' in 1914 reduced the pool of men from which those staff could be drawn. 

The introduction of conscription in 1916 exacerbated the problem, made even worse at the end of the war by the huge number of casualties. Throughout the country many of the great estates of Edwardian Britain lost lost the men without whose labour their very existence was threatened. Hadleigh colony could not expect top escape  these dramatic consequences. 

A programme of retrenchment and revision was put in place, including the sale of much of the land bought at the beginning of the scheme. Most of the land sold was not in Hadleigh but in neighbouring Leigh-on-Sea. These were the farms bought by William Booth in 1892 and 1893 when the initial three Hadleigh farms proved insufficient for the General's ambitious plans. Leigh Park Farm, which had become the receiving Centre for the colonists before they moved to the main part of the Colony, was sold in the 1920s to a Mr Walker who began the construction of what became the Highlands estate.