Constance Pearson: Lord Roberts Memorial Workshop

Helpers at Lord Robert Memorial event, July 1918
Courtesy Colchester Museum

Constance Pearson started her career as a teacher of deaf students before moving to Colchester to take up her job as secretary of the Lord Roberts Memorial Workshop in Magdalen Street in September 1917.  Shortly after she wrote to her father about her move to Colchester describing the town as “the most beautiful old place.” 

In 1924 Constance took over the whole management of the workshop which employed ex-soldiers and sailors with leg or foot amputations, war disabilities, heart conditions, but not “epileptics or tubercular cases” and female dependents in a separate room.  By 1933 approximately 150 men had been trained at the workshop, with 3 men in employment there since 1917.  

The workshop made baskets of all kinds – bird nesting boxes, garden tool baskets, willow carts, reed fencing, log, paper and cycle baskets, cane and seagrass furniture – and developed new basket products to keep a steady income.  A blue sales van regularly visited villages in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, Huntingdon, Hertfordshire, Kent and parts of Lincoln to sell the products as well as fundraising events such as a Castle Park day mentioned by John Harper in 1918.  Other Lord Roberts workshops around the country made dolls houses and toys. 

During the Second World War Constance worked as an ARP warden in Colchester.  She retired from the Lord Roberts Workshop in 1952 having raised over £35,000 for the workshop.  She was awarded an MBE. 

 

Lord Roberts fundraising poster (Art.IWM PST 10828)  Copyright: © IWM.