Industrial Settlements 1919 - 1925

 

Industrial Settlements were a group of high ranking army officers who recognised the need for Preston Hall to continue in it’s current form. At the end of the First World War  55,000 people were discharged from the service with TB, of those discharged 18,000 died as a result of returning to inner-city housing.

 

The government realised there was a need to set up sanatoria for the sole purpose of treating men with TB. To this end, the government reviewed the issues under the review of the War Pension Committee which resulted in a report being published in 1919. The report referred to an article in the War Pensions Gazette in October 1919 and states:

 

“Lord Queenborough also wrote on behalf of the Industrial Settlements for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors making a proposal for securing Preston Hall, near Maidstone, for a similar purpose.”

 

This was the foundation stone for the start of Preston Hall being set up as a sanatoria, training colony and village settlement.

 

Industrial Settlements Incorporated purchased Preston Hall, estate and gardens from Leeds Fireclay Company in 1919 for £30,000.

 

 

 

 

Industrial Settlements Incorporated was headed by Lord Queenborough. He was a

Member of Parliament until 1917 and an active industrialist. His Grandfather had

Commanded the British Cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

 

 

 

 

The Industrial Settlements Executive Committee members were made up of various prominent members of society including Mr G Reeves-Smith, Sir William Grey Wilson and Sir Edward Smith amongst others.

 

One member of the committee was a Mr Thomas Mawton who had a vision prior to the end of the war  about planning villages for ex Servicemen to inhabit in order to give them and their families a quality of life after risking their own lives to fight for their country. Below is an extract from a publication he printed called “An Imperial Obligation”. The settlement at Preston Hall fitted perfectly into his ideology of the future for ex-Servicemen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the publication “An Imperial Obligation” by Mr Thomas Mawton 1917

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the minutes of the second AGM of Industrial Settlements held in May 1921 it was noted that although Preston Hall had only come into actual operation in October 1920 it was already residence to 240 ex-servicemen who were engaged in some occupation according to capacity, such as poultry and pig farming, horticulture, cabinet making and boot making. In 90% of cases men had added to their weight and improved in general health.

 

It was also noted in these minutes that 15 bungalow cottages had been erected – this was the beginning of Hermitage Lane as we know it  – click on the “Interesting Facts” page to find out how Hermitage Lane got it’s name.

 

The Prince of Wales visited the colony in 1921 to officially open it, as a result of the impression he gained of the village he made a donation to the funds of the institution. The amount of this sum remained undisclosed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During 1921 a new dining hall with seating for 300 men was added.

 

It was noted in the AGM minutes for 1922 by Rt Hon Sir Arthur Stanley that he considered the institution to be of immense value not just to the ex servicemen but to the community at large and the work being carried out to treat and care for TB patients wasn’t being done better anywhere else.

 

The laundry on the estate was closed in 1921 to make a saving of £1,000.

 

The cabinet factory had also been closed down as it was proving impossible to make furniture to compete with other manufacturing firms. The pig and poultry appliances department was by far the best performing department.

 

In 1923 at the AGM Col Sir Lionel Webb, on behalf of the Ministry of Pensions (who had visited the colony) recommended that more cottages should be built and the colony should provide shelter for tubercular men for life. It was also noted at this meeting there was a falling off of patients, due to two causes, less eligible patients and the fact that the government had set up vocational training centres similar to Preston Hall and they absorbed most of the men.

 

The Chairman reported that with less than 300 men in the colony it would not be possible to sustain itself and this was proving to be the case.

 

At this point it was suggested that some men should be kept on after their rehabilitation from tuberculosis as tubercular civilians. If the Village Settlement Policy was preceded with ‘all the men would be ex-servicemen’ the men would still received their government pensions but there would be no capitation grant. There was enough accommodation for single men but more married accommodation was needed.

 

It was mooted that the Policy of a Village Settlement was the only practical and economic way of dealing with the problem of disabled ex-servicemen. The rehabilitation of these men relied greatly on their mental condition and the village provided some hope for them and their families. This motion was carried unanimously – the beginnings of RBLV as we know it now.

 

Also in 1923 the ‘Empress Club Emergency Aid Committee’ of Dover Street, London (which was a Ladies and Gentleman's Social Club) donated money for the building of the Post Office and Shop and the first four houses to be built on Hermitage Lane. There are plaques on the sides of all of these building to commemorate the donation which can still be seen to this day.

 

The AGM of 1924 noted the fact that the continuation of the Village Settlement would need more funding and more houses were needed. If the government could not come up with the money they would need to appeal to the public.

 

The Vice President of Industrial Settlements Inc. reported at this meeting that the Preston Hall Colony was approaching a critical stage in its existence. Since its inception in 1920 1,294 men had been dealt with by the colony. The supply of ex-servicemen was dwindling and the colony could not continue with less than 240 patients in residence. It was considered to be a calamity if the Village Settlement be allowed to collapse.

 

The idea of the government taking it over was contemplated, the requirement was there for another 30 cottages as well as the 25 already promised and they would need a £10,000 grant to develop the industries.

 

At the 1925 AGM the number of patients at Preston Hall had dwindled greatly. It was suggested that the running of the whole operation should be handed over to a larger organisation.

 

By this time the British Legion had been established for 4 years and it was thought to be the best organisation to take over the colony. The British Legion had agreed to the transfer of the colony to them as from the 1st April 1925.

 

If you would like to read a summary of the minutes of Industrial Settlements Inc AGMs Please Click Here

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Please click on any picture for a larger View

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Prince of Wales inspecting Royal West Kent Regiment Ceremonial Guard at handing over of Preston Hall to Industrial Settlements - 27 July 1921

Signature of The Prince of Wales in the Visitors Book - 27 July 1921

Rehabilitation even involved sewing

Industrial Settlements Van - 1919

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Above is a letter from Mr Vincent of Industrial Settlements sending a copy of the book “An Imperial Obligation” to Dr Varrier-Jones (Medical Director of Preston Hall 1925 - 1927)

When The British Legion took over the village in 1925 they originally wanted to call it “Preston Manufacturing Company Incorporated”. However, this name was already in use hence it became known as “Preston Hall Industries (Incorporated) Limited”.

The letter on the left from The British Legion to Dr Varrier-Jones confirms this.