EAST HADDON HISTORY SOCIETY Northamptonshire, England


Albert Tredgett was a wartime evacuee who came to East Haddon in 1939, and returned to London late in 1940. In his short time here he formed a deep affection for our village, and from photos he took during his stay here, he later painted pictures of various places in the village. A gifted watercolour artist, he frequently gave pictures to friends here that he remembered from wartime. At the village Christmas market 2007, a calendar was on sale, with each month showing one of Albert’s pictures. Some of these original pictures have now come back to the village, and adorn many walls hereabouts.

Sadly, Albert died very recently (23rd May 2017), aged 90, in Eastbourne where he had been living, presumably retired. An obituary notice appeared in the Eastbourne Herald published June 2nd 2017, as follows:

TREDGETT Albert Alfred John Passed away peacefully on 23rd May 2017. Loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Will be sadly missed by all his family and friends. Funeral Service to be held on Friday 9th June 2017 at St Mary's Church, Willingdon at 11.30am followed by committal in the Main Chapel at Eastbourne Crematorium at 1pm. Flowers welcome or donations if desired by cheque payable to The Royal British Legion and sent c/o Co-op Funeralcare, 51 South Street, Eastbourne , BN21 4SL, Tel 01323 734482

Picture of Albert

In recent years Albert, living at the time in Enfield, Middx, wrote a piece for a magazine (“This England”?) describing his experience of Christmas 1939 in East Haddon. The text of this article is reproduced here:

Eight miles to the West of Northampton lies the beautiful village of East Haddon. On September 1st 1939, together with my younger sister and two younger brothers, I was evacuated from Hackney to ths lovely part of Northamptonshire. There were about twenty of us from my South Hackney Central School and about the same number from St Mary Magdalene’s School in Islington.

My sister and brother were billeted with a middle-aged couple who already had a young niece living with them. My youngest brother and I were billeted with an elderly lady in a bungalow at the lower end of the village.

Very soon we settled in and overcame homesickness. Our arrival coincided with the gathering of the harvest, with which many of the older schoolchildren assisted the farmers. As I was one of the eldest at nearly 13, I immediately took to the task and for the remainder of my stay at East Haddon, I spent almost all my spare time on the farm.

It was Christmas that I remember so well, the most astounding Christmas of my life. Soon after arriving at East Haddon, having been a choirboy at St Lawrence Jewry Church in the City of London, I joined the choir of St Mary’s Church, East Haddon, together with three other evacuees. (Picture - click here)

When Christmas came, we joined others to tour the village singing carols. We raised the princely sum of five pounds for the Red Cross. I was also taken on by the Post Office shop to deliver newspapers, and collected two sixpence and sixpence in tips, which I used towards buying myself my first pair of long trousers.

The villagers got together to plan a great Christmas party for us. The ladies made cake, pastries, and all sorts of wonderful food. A farmer’s son, Freddie Smith, gave us an excellent film show with his 8mm films he had hired to give us a great time.

I had by then joined the Scouts and together with our schoolmaster Mr Dorling, we took the Scout’s cart to Buckby Folly about a mile away where we had been given permission from Lord Litchfield to cut down a Christmas tree of our choice. We chose a lovely specimen and took it to the Village Institute where the party was to be held. To our consternation, it was too tall for the hall and had to be cut back before we could erect it. When decorated it made a splendid show. For some time I kept a record of the party from a cutting in the local paper.

WE had several presents given to us but one of them was outstanding in my memory, for one of the Ladies who had helped at the party (and I believe took pity on me because I was billeted with old Miss Emden), bought me a pair of roller skates. I was thrilled to bits with them. At home, my father wouldn’t let me have skates as he said the pulled the soles off my shoes so I took great care to strap them on properly, and they gave me hours of pleasure.

We had a very traditional Christmes beginning with the service at the village church. A number of the villagers used to take their Christmas dinner, prepared in a large baking dish, to the village bakers where it would be cooked for them and ready by the time they returned from church. I remember going with one of the Ladies of the choir to collect her family’s dinner and it was cooked to perfection.

During the Christmas holiday, a few of the older boys joined our woodwork maste, Mr Bivand, to construct a large toboggan in a shed adjacent to the Headmaster’s house, This toboggan seated up to five children. I had a fixed sledge at the rear, and the sledge at the front could be guided by feet and a rope. It was a splendid construction; all we needed then was snow!

It didn’t snow until January, and when it did, at first it was too deep to sledge. But once we took the toboggan down the road and across farmer Jones’ field to a hill nearby, we had a simply wonderful time. Every one of us wanted to be the driver so we took it in turns. The whole village turned out, some with their own sledged made by the village blacksmith. Mr Bivand’s idea proved a huge success. Unfortunately, very shortly afterwards he was called up for military service, served in the Far East and was captured by the Japanese and spent most of the war in the infamous Changi POW camp.

In November 1940, the week that Coventry was bombed, I became 14 and had to return home to work. The village policemen begged me not to return but I could not disobey my Father and was keen o start work. It was for me my baptism of fire, for the very evening I returned home, a landmine fell a couple of streets away near my old school.

From that day to this, I never forgot East Haddon and the great time I spent there. I kept in touch with my friends and now visit the village at least once every year, usually around Easter time when my Wife and I attend a service at the village church, followed by dinner with a good friend who used to be at school with me. The afternoon usually finds us pondering old photographs and recalling past times together.