We Dug for Victory
During World War II, allotments were in great demand and by 1945 there were around 1.4 million allotments in Great Britain. In the 1930s the UK imported over 70% of its food and the threat from German U-Boats on food imports encouraged the government to create a campaign to help feed the country.
The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was launched in October 1939 and set out to empower people to grow their own food. Many gardens, parks and waste places were turned into allotments. In Ealing, over 70% of Lammas Park was turned into allotments, around 40% of Ealing Common and all of Blondin Park were allotments.
Northfield allotments (then known as Ealing Dean allotments) was twice its current size, with plots on both sides of Northfield avenue.
The government stated a 10 rod (or pole) size plot will keep a family of five in vegetables for 8 months of the year. Our full plots are still 10 poles in size although we currently rent out 5 pole size due to increased demand for plots. Right image: Lammas Park, Ealing in 1946
My father’s plot
At Northfield allotment, plot holder Jane Morris recalls her father’s allotment at Wellmeadow Road, Ealing in the 1950s – “We always grew marrows, my speciality was taking a little twig and writing 'silly old daddy' on the baby marrows, so that it became large letters when the marrow was ready for the table!”
“There was an open shed near the gates, and the chimney sweep would come regularly and dump his soot in there, which was used on plots”.
We didn't have a freezer, I remember jars of fruit for the winter and endless bottles of plums!
Ealing’s Famous Boot
The World War II ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign used an iconic image of a man’s boot and spade in the ground on the posters and leaflets that were circulated throughout Great Britain. (see image right)
The famous boot came from an Ealing resident a Mr. W.H McKie. Mr McKie (1873-1945) lived at 12 Heathfield rd. Acton in 1941 and was one of the oldest members of the Acton Gardening Association, which still exists today. Mr McKie was photographed at his allotment in Acton Vale in around 1939 and was a keen gardener and allotment holder, who had won many competition prizes for flowers including gladioli, dahlias and zinnias. He had won the gladioli challenge cup awarded by L.P.T.B Railways Horticultural Society four years in a row by 1941. During the war, he concentrated on growing vegetables as many did to help the war effort.
Below image: Mr. W.H McKie and his granddaughter and a Poster version of this information