Simon Coleman's blog

You know sometimes you just like something, and you don’t have to have a good reason why . . . Steelydan comes to mind.
Well Allotment pumps is like that for me. I started the Allotment pump project a month or so ago and i have now completed the installation of two pumps. This is good timing because we have no mains water at this time so it gives us a chance to feel how it was in the days gone by on the allotment when they had no mains water. We have only had mains water for the last 20 years or so for the previous 160 years they had to find water from other sources, the ponds, watercourse and wells.

Continuing my interest in "old things" my new blog continues with items that we found in the hedgerow clearance. On Saturday 7th March we had a volunteer day that cleared rubbish from the north section of the allotment by Northfield Avenue.
Amongst the plastic bottles and metal cans i was lucky to find a bit of metal that made my day.
I found a small Pick Mattock head. The name often changes from book to book but the name Pick Mattock is listed in the 1951 Brades catalogue. This head is a lot smaller than you would expect for a mattock or pick axe.

I have been looking into historical practices in allotments, things like the types of crops grown. I recently bought a pocket handbook from 1942 that was published by the National Allotments Society LTD which still exists today.
The book is a pocket book and literally it fits in your pocket and what i like about it is that the owner has written in it, giving a real slice of 1942. In April is written "set Peas on 21st, Californian Poppies and Cress on 30th".

Here are some other highlights from the handbook:

It seems that many people want to know how to correctly prune their fruit trees. You may have an old tree that looks like a monster or just bought a new young tree and want to know how to create the best shape for fruit production.

I personally looked at various sources of information in old books and leaflets but i found that videos really gave the best help because you get a chance to see actual trees being pruned in real situations. Also these videos are made professional nurserymen with years of experience in most cases.

I have selected 17 videos, yep i said 17 and if you manage to watch them all i really think you will feel confident in understanding what to do and what NOT to do when pruning fruit tree. Don't just watch a couple then think that is enough, the repetition in the videos helps ingrain the knowledge into your brain . . . i didn't say brain-washing!

Pruning trees

Have you ever wondered what Ealing looked like a hundred years ago. Well there are plenty of photos around that show you what is was like but i came across a video the other day of Ealing Broadway in 1901, a video, well a film more than video. It is not a long film but the quality is good and it really so much more than a still photo. The awnings in the front of the shop blowing in the breeze, the horse and cart, children running in front the tram.

Do you find objects in the soil on your plot? Like most people stones seem to constantly appear in the ground by themselves but from time to time i find other things.
The most common for me is bits of old clay pipes and Stoneware bottles. I only find fragments but i always like to imagine a plot holder from 100 years ago stopping for a drink of ginger beer or lemonade.

There is a Well on 229
In April 2014 Dennis Weal gave up his plot 229 due to old age. He told Christina Fox that his father had rented this plot since 1946. He said they had dug a well and had a pump inside their shed and that they put the shed up around the pump because people kept breaking the handle.
I spoke to "Vic" who had been the maintenance man for the allotment for around 30 years and he told me that he installed the mains water in the allotment in the mid 1990's. He said that wells would regularly run dry and plot holders with wells would have to wait until the water level returned to use them again.

I have always been interested in history whatever the topic and these days my attention is on allotments and vegetable growing. During my history research on the Northfields allotment i found a good quality aerial photograph of the allotments taken in 1945. I also noticed on that image that 50% of Lammas park had been turned into allotments.

I had heard from some plot holders that the Hawthorn bushes that surround the Northfield allotments were protected. Vic the former maintenance guy told me recently that when he was cutting the hedge years ago a man from the council stopped him and told him it was protected.