Henry Tutt, Hadleigh School Headmaster
Some of the following basic local information about Henry Tutt in the following four paragraphs can be found in “Hadleigh – An Essex Village” by Marion Hancock and Sandra Harvey (printed in 1986 by Phillmore & Co. Ltd).
Henry took over as headmaster of the Hadleigh Council School from H.A. Davies in 1917 and eventually retired 32 years later in 1949.
The school leaving age was raised from 12 to 14 years in 1918. In his first year, an influenza epidemic led to the closure of the school for two weeks and in the same year, school meals were introduced for the first time due to the children becoming undernourished through poor food rations. (The meals were first served in the dining room of the Salvation Army colony [but by 1946, food was cooked at Thundersley and delivered in metal containers – Ed.]).
During the 1920s, through a merger with the Church school, the numbers rose to 500 pupils, but with no money to pay for the necessary extensions, Mr Tutt had to oversee the teachers accepting a voluntary reduction in their salaries to help pay for the improvements.
During the war, one bomb landed nearby; damaging the school house where Mr Tutt lived, but fortunately nobody was hurt.
Henry Reginald Tutt was born in Lower Halstow near Ashford in Kent on 21 August 1886, the son of a labourer, but by the age of 24, Henry was working as an assistant teacher and living in lodgings at Croydon.
In 1915 he married Ada Louise Corbett at Runcorn in Cheshire. They went on to have four children, all of whom were born at Hadleigh. By 1918, the Tutts were living in The Grove, Ash Road in Hadleigh and the family later lived in the School House in The Avenue.
Their first child Nora was born in 1918. There then followed Reginald H in 1920, Gordon in 1922 and finally Margaret in 1923.
Out of school, David Guy recalled that Sandpit Hill was a favourite place for people like Police Sgt. Treggitt and Mr Tutt to shoot rabbits before it was taken over by the army in the Second World War.
In the 1939 Register, Henry was living at the School House in The Avenue with Ada and an older Tutt relative (name unfortunately obscured) (born 9 December 1856, his incapacitated mother?) together with Gordon and one other occupier (whose record is still closed, so possibly one other of the children).
Jean de Jong remembered getting the cane from Mr Tutt probably in 1940. Several pupils were late back to school after lunch when they missed the bus from Rivers Corner Daws Heath and got a ride in a van. (She thought it seemed rather a hard punishment for the offence!).
David Guy, however, remembers Mr Tutt as being a very fair man as his headmaster.
Henry Tutt played his part in celebrations at the end of the war. Maureen Hume (née Theobald) remembered him using a megaphone addressing Hadleigh School children at the castle in 1945 at either the VE Day or VJ Day celebrations (see picture).
In May that year, he had also given permission for a VE Day party for 60 children of the district to take place in the playground of the Hadleigh Council Schools on a Saturday.
By 1946, the playing field in The Avenue had not yet been acquired, so the annual Sports Day was held at the John Burrows Cricket Ground. There were 500 junior and senior pupils and 200 infants.
Robin Thorn recalled that when Mr Tutt retired in 1947, he informed the pupils in assembly that he was looking forward to his retirement but was equally sad that he would not be seeing them any more. He said, however, that he was a keen bird watcher and was looking forward to having the time to watch the birds in his garden in the Benfleet Road.
Henry Reginald Tutt was not only a headmaster, but played a very large part in the local community during his time as headmaster.
He was a member of Hadleigh Parish Council for ten years and he became chairman of the new Benfleet Urban District Council.
In his book, Hadleigh Past, Ian Yearsley notes that Tutt was a keen ornithologist, persuading his council colleagues to contribute financially to the proposed new Belfairs Nature Reserve in 1934.
In 1936, at the opening of the John H. Burrows Recreation Ground at Hadleigh, Henry Tutt (by then a J.P.), as Chairman of the Council, paid tribute to the work of the late Ald. John Burrows.
The British Legion Hall which stood in Endway car park was officially opened in September 1948 by Henry Tutt.
On another website, there is a comment that Mr. Tutt gave the children at King John School rather good lectures on local bird life.
In 1951 Henry Tutt was Chairman of the Food Control Committee and attended a Welfare Foods meeting at the Kenneth Road Food Office.
In 1954, Henry Tutt, described as “Past-Chairman of the Benfleet U.D.C.” wrote an article in the council’s handbook for the years 1953/1954, referring to the scars from heavy aerial attacks launched by the Germans against London and the docks during the war.
It is believed that Henry Tutt died locally in 1973. Perhaps other local people have recollections of his life in retirement.