West Watford History Group

History of West Watford

allotments in wartime

In the booklet Wartime Memories of West Watford in which some members of the community were asked for personal memories of Watford during the second World War, several mentions are made of the allotments in the area. Below are a few of those recollections. (The Editor has paraphrased some of the lengthier stories)

Derek Harris recalls: I can remember that horse and carts used to come down to the 'gravel pit'*. If any of the horses did their business in the street, we used to be sent out with buckets to get it for the garden. We didn't grow anything in our garden because my granddad had an allotment up at Holywell. We grew all our greens and potatoes. Every year he used to grow onions, then pickle them, soaking them in salt in a great big bowl under his double bed until they seasoned. Then all the peppers and little wee red things and brown bits used to go in, then the vinegar. In the pantry there were three big jars. The pickles would last all year through. 

Ron Naylor recalls living in Hagden Lane when war broke out. The house was owned by a chap that had a plot of land at the bottom of Brightwell Road. There's a block of flats there now (Brightwell Court - Ed), but then it was a small holding where someone kept goats and chickens and there was another plot at the bottom of Benskin Road.

After moving to Chilcott Road, Ron still used to visit his grandparents. His grandfather rented no. 88 the first house at the bottom of Benskin Road and he had 'three allotments on the plot next door, where he grew most of his own veg - enough spuds and onions to last the year. It was a bit ramshackle but he cultivated them during and after the war'.

Norma Moore says in the booklet: Nearly every man had an allotment. My grandfather, father and uncle has an allotment off Vicarage Road where the Holywell Estate is. There was a sewage farm there and allotments. There's only a few of them now but then there was miles of them. 

Stan Puddifoot recollects:  When we were small children my dad had to have two allotments. Where Laurence Haines school is now, he had two allotments. We had to go down and help him weed and pick up stones. 

* The gravel pit was behind the houses in Chester Road, where the allotments are now. There are quite a few mentions of this in the Memories booklet.