The class of people who frequent this Home is a very low one; for the most part they are drunkards. They must leave the Shelter before ten o’clock in the morning, when the majority of them go out hawking, selling laces, or other odds and ends. Some of them earn as much as 2_s_. a day; but, as a rule, they spend a good deal of what they earn, only saving enough to pay for their night’s lodging. This place has been open for sixteen years, and contains 133 beds, which are almost always full.
The women whom I saw at this Shelter were a very rough-looking set, nearly all elderly, and, as their filthy garments and marred countenances showed, often the victims of drink. Still, they have good in them, for the lady in charge assured me that they are generous to each other. If one of the company has nothing they will collect the price of her bed or her food between them, and even pay her debts, if these are not too large. There were several children in the place, for each woman is allowed to bring in one. When I was there many of the inmates were cooking their meals on the common stove, and very curious and unappetizing these were.
Among them I noted a dark-eyed lassie of about sixteen who was crying. Drawing her aside, I questioned her. It seemed that her father, a drunken fellow, had turned her out of her home that afternoon because she had forgotten to give him a message. Having nowhere to go she wandered about the streets until she met a woman who told her of this Lodging-house. She added, touchingly enough, that it was not her mother’s fault.
Imagine a girl of sixteen thrown out to spend the night upon the streets of Glasgow!
On the walls of one of the rooms I saw a notice that read oddly in a Shelter for women. It ran:—
Smoking is strictly prohibited after retiring.
The Hadleigh Colony, of which Lieut.-Colonel Laurie is the Officer in charge, is an estate of about 3,000 acres which was purchased by the Salvation Army in the year 1891 at a cost of about L20 the acre, the land being stiff clay of the usual Essex type. As it has chanced, owing to the amount of building which is going on in the neighbourhood of Southend, and to its proximity to London, that is within forty miles, the investment has proved a very good one. I imagine that if ever it should come to the hammer the Hadleigh Colony would fetch a great deal more than L20 the acre, independently of its cultural improvements. These, of course, are very great. For instance, more than 100 acres are now planted with fruit-trees in full bearing. Also, there are brickfields which are furnished with the best machinery and plant, ranges of tomato and salad houses, and a large French garden where early vegetables are grown for market. A portion of the land, however, still remains in the hands of tenants, with whom the Army does not like to interfere.