Warley Soldiers Home

In the late 1800's the Temperance Movement grew in size and effectiveness throughout the country.

Many Temperance members noticed the negative effects of alcohol on soldiers with ale houses, gambling, loose women and drunkenness all being common occurrences near to barracks.

As was the case in towns with Temperance cafes springing up there was a move to have Soldiers homes established near to barracks to provide entertainment for soldiers and so deter them from 'the devil drink'.

In Essex soldiers homes were established in Colchester, Shoeburyness and at Warley paid for by some official grants but mainly from local fundraising.

The soldiers home at Warley was a large residential building, in Warley Road, Warley, called The Gables  which was owned by Theodore Page who rented it to the Soldiers Home for just £53 per year.

Alterations were made to the building by enlarging rooms etc to make it suitable for its proposed use. Facilities includes a rest room with counter for refreshments to be provided, a card room, bagatelle & billiard tables, prayer room and a reading room.

There were some bedrooms where members of soldiers families could stay for up to two days when visiting. The site was convenient for this as it was on the road from the barracks to the railway station.

There was one full time member of staff , a Lady Superintendent, to manage the premises with other posts filled by volunteers which included soldiers and their wives. The Lady Superintendents and staff were often motivated by both Christian and temperance ideals.

The home was opened by Major General Sir William Forbes Gatacre KCB on Tuesday 31 July 1900 in the presence of many invited guests.

The home was considered a success with the 1902 AGM hearing that the average attendance of soldiers was 40 to 50 a day and that there would have been even more if the facilities had been capable of accommodating them.

The Soldiers Home appears to have been short lived as no more was heard of it after the Great War but it provided entertainment and help for many of the Essex Regiment men stationed at Warley.