Vintage Hieatt Bottles found on the allotment

London's oldest surviving allotment is facing the threat of being built on thanks to plans by its landlord to construct a new housing development on part of the allotment site. 

We desperately need to raise funds to pay for legal and specialist advice to help save our much loved allotments. 
If you can spare just a few pound we would be very grateful for your help and support.

In early September 2016 the charity, Pathways, contacted plotholders at Northfield Allotments in Ealing to announce its proposal to build on 10% of the allotments. The development would include a five to six story block of social housing and four houses for sale to help fund the development.

Northfield Allotments are the oldest allotments in London. They were given by the Bishop of London to the people of Ealing in 1832, and are held as a permanent endowment. The charity Pathways is our landlord and the site is managed by a committee of seven plotholders. There are 141 plots.


The plotholders are a diverse range of ages and nationalities. Twenty nine of our plotholders live in flats – this is their only garden. We have around 50 children who have a safe place to play and learn about fruit and veg and get a chance to see tadpoles, stag beetles, bats and hedgehogs.
There are more than 25 pensioners who have a place to grow their own food and there is always company, someone to talk to. You are never alone when you have an allotment. People are friendly here and we share seedlings and produce.

We have counted 27 different nationalities – the only qualification to getting a plot is a love of gardening and the patience to wait on our waiting list (currently 72 people).


The hedgerow around the site is around 900m long and has been designated, by Ealing Borough council, a SINC - Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. It is an important and safe habitat for our hedgehogs, many nesting birds and insects. The allotments are a habitat for stag beetles, which are endangered and protected. With perfect timing the many visitors to our Halloween open day saw our bats flying around the site catching night flying insects.


On the 25th September at a special general meeting, the plotholders unanimously voted to oppose Pathways’ plans to concrete over the allotments.
We understand that social housing is important – but so are green open spaces. It shouldn’t have to be a choice of one or the other. We believe Pathways’ trustees have not fully considered alternatives to their proposal to ‘temporarily’ move 18 residents into what will be a permanent development on the allotments.

We believe a permanent endowment should be permanent.


The original allotments were much larger than they are today: 60% of the allotments were lost in the 1970s due to compulsory purchase by the council and building by Pathways. Our concern is that if planning permission is granted this time around it will be easier to lose more allotment land in the future as the pressure for housing so close to a Crossrail station increases.

When we lose green space we never get it back.


  • Please write to your local councillors to let them know what you think of the proposal.
  • Write to the Ealing Gazette and Ealing and Northfield forums.
  • Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with what is going on.
  • We need specialist help, especially once the plans are submitted to Ealing Council. This will cost money. So, please help by donating whatever you can to our fighting fund.

Please help us protect the allotments for another 184 years.

Many thanks for all your help and support.

The Ealing Dean Allotment Society.

I’m going to leave the final word to Fran, one of our plotholders (who will lose her plot if the development goes ahead)…

“My allotment means a lot to me - we live in a third floor social housing flat with no access to a garden of our own. In 18 months my daughter and I have transformed the plot from weeds and brambles to our own little patch of heaven and my daughter has learned so much she never would have been able to before, from where our food comes from to the lifecycle of the frog - and she now wants to be a gardener when she grows up.”

Northfield Allotments has a wealth of secrets hidden within its boundaries. In 1832 when it was created the allotment was called “Ealing Dean Common allotments” and that name continued for over 150 years until around the 1990’s.

In November 2016 Simon Coleman started cleaning up an area of bare ground along the perimeter of the allotment. He realised that there were layers of rubbish dating back to the 1960’s.  He decided to dig deeper in the hope he would find older artefacts, enlisting the help of two other plot holders, Dominic Small and Nick Cash. They found over 20 bottles during these digs, two bottle fragments were found which appeared particularly intriguing and research began in order to understand where these bottles came from.  Both bottle fragments had similar embossed initials: one had “H. E”  “EALING” and the other “H . . . EALING” and on the reverse side  “.ieatt”.  With a little help from Dr. Jonathan Oates from Ealing Libraries, it was realised that the bottles were from a local grocer Walter Hieatt.

Hieatt’s grocers shop was located at 2 Promenade, West Ealing, now 176 Uxbridge Road.

In the image below photographed in 1881 Hieatt's grocer shop is the last of the three shops after the chapel, on the corner with Kirchen Road. 

Hieatt’s Grocers Shop at 2 Promenade, 1881.

Walter Brydon Hieatt was born in 1843 in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. In 1871 he was listed in the census as living at 8 Esplanade, Ealing and was a grocer.  On Feb 17th 1876, aged 32, he married Clara Fox who was 25 and he was described in the marriage record as a grocer and wine merchant of Ealing. His father was John Hieatt a builder and his father-in-law William Fox a farmer.

In 1881, he had two grocery stores one in Broadway Ealing and the other at 2 Promenade, West Ealing.

The West ealing branch was located opposite what is now Dean Gardens, but then Ealing Dean Common allotments.

He was listed in the 1889 Kelly’s directory as a Family Grocer, cheese-monger, wine, spirit and beer merchant.

Walter Hieatt died on 29th June 1902, at Sunnyside, 23 Haven Green, described then as a Provision Merchant.  Probate was granted to his son Charles Hieatt and Charles Walker Gregory Grocer’s,  with his estate was re-sworn in April 1903 at £35,757-12-5d, a significant sum at that time. His son Charles continued the family grocer business together with Charles Gregory and they were listed in the Kelly’s directory for 1914 having two shops at 176 (a renumbering of 2 The Promenade) and 127 Uxbridge Road, and were listed as “Hieatt & Gregory Family Grocer”.

Glass Bottle fragments found on the allotment

We know that W. B. Hieatt was a Family Grocer, cheese-monger, wine, spirit and beer merchant from around 1871-1902. We have found glass bottle fragments with his name embossed on them. In January 2017 two further Hieatt artefacts were found, a top of a beer bottle with a Moulded “Hieatt Ealing” vulcanite stopper and another separate “Hieatt Ealing” stopper.

Hieatt Bottle 1

We believe that HB1 bottle fragment was a mineral water bottle. This is because it has a “Dan Rylands Safe groove 4” trade mark, which was a type of Codd style bottle with a marble inside the top to keep the carbonated gas from escaping. Dan Rylands produced bottles with a “safe groove 4” from around 1888 to 1897. There is the word “PURITY” on the front of the bottom suggesting that this was for mineral water. The front of the bottle has a capital H logo which has been seen on other bottles sold by different merchants. We can conclude that Dan Rylands may have used various template logos adding a merchants initials, in this case “H. E” for Hieatt Ealing. The H logo also appears again on the bottom of the bottle.

Hieatt Bottle 2

HB2 is another glass bottle made by Dan Rylands Barnsley. It does not have the “Safe Groove” trade mark so we can assume it has a different type of stopper. The embossed lettering is also different from HB1. The front has a word starting “H” most likely Hieatt and lower has “EALING” embossed on the lower front section. On the back there are the letter “ieatt” written in a different font. We will assume this is Hieatt and has the words TRADE MARK above and below the name.


Hieatt Bottle stopper

Another Hieatt bottle fragment was found on another dig in Jan 2017. This bottle was green /brown in colour and may have been a beer or wine bottle. There was a vulcanite stopper with the embossed name HIEATT EALING. Another Hieatt stopper was found in the same location.





Dan Rylands Glass Manufacturer.

Dan Rylands (1849-1910) succeeded his father as partner at the Hope Glass Works in Stairfoot, Barnsley in 1881. His business partner, Hiram Codd, had famously invented the Codd bottle in 1872, causing a revolution in the industry by allowing fizzy drinks to be contained using a glass marble to seal the bottle neck. In 1893 Rylands ran into money trouble and tried to take his own life when declared bankrupt. His sympathetic workforce raised £300 so his family could hang onto their possessions. Rylands then moved to London to work as a mineral water firm but struggled with mental health problems and died in 1910.

He produced bottles with a “safe groove 4” a version of the Codd bottle seal from around 1888 to 1897.