History of Hadleigh Farm

History of Hadleigh Farm

Hadleigh Farm was originally part of William Booth's, "Darkest England" scheme. This involved people from what he referred to as the, "submerged tenth" being helped and in some cases rescued by Salvationists. They would then be offered work and shelter in the City Colony before being transferred to the Country Colony and eventually to the Overseas Colony.

Originally, the farmland around Hadleigh was notorious for its poor quality and was known locally as the, "Hadleigh badlands." William Booth chose the location as it was within reasonable distance of London where the City Colony was based and had access to water and a railway. Just as importantly, the clay soil made it ideal for market gardening and crops requiring a heavier soil, perfect for the various disciplines taught at the Country Colony.

1891 saw the start of building William Booth's vision on Hadleigh Farm. In just 9 months the farm went from 48 volunteers from the East End to nearly 250. The Idea of Hadleigh Farm was, "to give employment (and food and lodgings in return for his labour) to any man who is willing to work, irrespective of nationality or creed." 

With the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 the British government agreed to look after a number of Basque refugee children. Some of these children ended up under the Salvation Army's care in East London and at Hadleigh. In 1939 the farm also provided accommodation for nearly 70 Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Germany and Eastern Europe.

The role of Hadleigh Farm changed slightly after the Second World War, and during the 1950's, the farm helped to train former youth offenders and boys on probation. In 1990, the Hadleigh Training Centre was opened on the site of, and in conjunction with, the farm. The centre works with local authorities to train people with special educational needs in contemporary subjects such as IT skills, carpentry, and life skills.