I took an allotment at Walnut Tree Meadow, which is just near Ham House and in those days it wasn’t fashionable, so you could walk there, walk around the area and choose from anything up to a dozen empty plots to see which one you liked. We duly chose one which was not in too bad a state and that is now some thirty-odd years ago and we now have a well-maintained – though there’s always work to be done on an allotment – we now have a well-maintained allotment, which we get a wide variety of extremely palatable home-grown vegetables from. The neighbours are quite happy to accept my surplus produce, but none of them so far have volunteered to help with the weeding! The Allotment Society itself went through an interesting change not long after I joined, in that it became semi-devolved from the Council, in that there had to be formed a local management committee for the allotments, which would then take over some of the duties which the Council previously had provided in full. Not surprisingly, I became the Treasurer and the Secretary, as well as cultivating my plot, and that continued for I think at least a dozen years, before it was obviously time to find someone else to take over, but I still maintain the allotment and take an interest in the popularity of ‘growing your own’. Interestingly, the waiting list for an allotment now is something like five years, whereas thirty years ago, you could walk on and take your pick from about a dozen.
She wrote up the history of the Walnut Tree Meadow allotment, from the time it was gifted to the Council from Mr. Secrett of Secrett’s Farm, to the point where the Council had a serious disagreement with the owners – who I think at the time were the Dysart family – took them to court over the non-supply of the land and actually won! So the beginning of Walnut Tree allotments was from a gift of land which required it to be used for three purposes: a childrens playground, allotment gardens and playing fields, and those are the three areas which you see on the way to Ham House on the left hand side. They came into being entirely due, one must say, to the persistence of the Council in following through the legal requirements.