Dave’s Story


Father and son David, aged 6, approach the gates of the Addiscombe and Woodside Allotments Society. Dave’s father is pushing a four-wheel barrow. On entering the gardens they see a horse and cart on the first plot to their right, this is one of the local chimney sweeps delivering soot which will be spread on the potato trenches; soot is great slug deterrent.

Walking towards them, on the path made from railway sleepers come a couple of plot-holders with their wheelbarrows to collect a supply of soot for their plots. Harry Townsend, the Secretary (Mister Townsend to Dave) is busy inspecting a nearby plot. Dave and his father continue along the path and cross the brook via the bridge which is also made from old railway sleepers and move right to the canteen, built only a few years previously. Ladies are supplying refreshments and there is a poster advertising a whist drive to be held shortly.

Immediately adjacent to the canter is the Trading Shed. Helpers are making up packets of seeds whilst others are bottling up Jeyes Fluid and liquid manure into old Tizer bottles. Dave’s father buys a few packets of seed (1 old penny, 1d per packet) and a bag of Growmore, price 2/6d (12p). In the corner are stored bundles of runner-beans poles, made from coppiced hazel. They also purchase some seed potatoes, Majestic, Arran Banner and Arran pilot. These are loaded on to their wheel barrow.

Then the pair of them walk to their plot, number 105 which takes them past the rudimentary toilet (men only), past the Oak trees behind which the tennis courts used to flourish. They pass another horse and cart which is delivering manure; the only sound apart from bird song is that of a hand pushed mower being used for the first cut of the season. There are a great many Cherry trees on various plots on the way to plot 105. Smoke curls from a bonfire. They come to the water tank by 105, they are fortunate to have one so close to them as the number of tanks is very limited.

This year, Dave’s father hopes to grow in addition to the potatoes he will start to chit: cabbages, carrots, marrows, beetroots and salads, essential crops.

Yesterday German aircraft had flown across the allotments and last night the sirens had sounded and bombs had been dropped. Dave’s father had spent much of the night time on A.R.P (Air Raid Precaution) warden duties. For this is 1940. There is no car park, no cars, no cultivators, and no plastic bags of compost from the Trading Centre, no conifers by the gates and no peace of mind for anyone.

David Hewett 1935 - 2014

His friends, his life at the allotment meant the world to Dave, so it is appropriate that he has a fitting memorial here at the Wildlife gardens with a bench dedicated to him and his father.