Archive / Papers / Turner, B. Papers


Given by Mrs Beatrice M. Coates (nee Turner).

Memoir, ‘Life was like that: the anguish of a colonial-born child’, covering the years from her birth in Ceylon in 1926 to her emigration to New Zealand in 1954.

Beatrice Turner was born in 1926. In that year her father, Arthur Turner, was appointed Secretary of the Planters’ Association and because of the new job the family moved to a new home on a tea estate just outside Kandy. The Mount Pleasant house had no electricity or piped hot water. An unmarried aunt arrived from England to act as nanny. It was a lonely childhood in that Beatrice had little contact with other children. However her parents led a busy social life. Some of her early memories are of visiting her family in England and Scotland during a home leave (six months every four years) in 1930.

On their return to Ceylon they moved to Ellagalla, a rubber estate even nearer to Kandy. This bungalow had its own generator which made a considerable improvement in their lives. There are detailed descriptions of domestic life, lessons and visits to neighbouring estates. Visitors came from all over the tea growing area to Ellagalla on Planters’ Association business. The Temple elephants were given their daily bath in the Mahawelliganga at the Katugasota bridge. In August the glittering Perahera parade took place in Kandy. Parties, visits to the cinema, sports, parades for various anniversaries were all part of their pre-war colonial life. The Turner family went on fishing holidays to Nuwara Eliya or Hakgalla and there were expeditions to the Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya and a memorable climb at Sigiriya with its frescoes and fifth century fortress. In 1934 Beatrice with her mother left Ceylon to start school in England. The 1939-1945 war intervened and Beatrice did not return.

The final two thirds of the memoir are concerned with her school days, first at an Anglo-Catholic convent and later at Headington School in Oxford. In 1944 she joined the WRNS, serving at several different locations in England and Scotland. In 1947 she left the WRNS and trained as a radiographer. In 1954 she emigrated to New Zealand. Her father retired from the Planters’ Association in 1944 and returned to England, to the village of Warwick in the South-West Midlands. 143pp Bound.