Heath Park allotment gardeners celebrate centenary of growing their own

PUBLISHED: 17:15 21 August 2017

Heath Park Allotments celebrating 100 years. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Heath Park Allotments celebrating 100 years. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Ellie Hoskins +44(0)7743306087

An allotments 100th birthday celebration grew to be a great success this weekend.

Heath Park Allotments celebrating 100 years. Photo by Ellie HoskinsHeath Park Allotments celebrating 100 years. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Heath Park Allotments, which is run by Romford and District Allotments Association, opened in 1917 and is still going strong a century on.

For chairman, Ivan Spendlove, 83, working on the allotment is a family tradition.

He said: “My father and grandfather were allotmenteers, it runs in the family.

“I first got an allotment at the site 46 years ago when I wanted to give my family home grown food.”

Heath Park Allotments celebrating 100 years. Photo by Ellie HoskinsHeath Park Allotments celebrating 100 years. Photo by Ellie Hoskins

Since retiring from his job in shipping when he was 58 years old, Ivan says having an allotment is also being part of a social community.

At the weekend, more than 60 green fingered residents came together with guests to celebrate the landmark, at the site in Balmoral Road.

Stalls showing the history of the site, including Havering Council drawings from the 1930s and a barbecue helped mark the special occasion.

Over the years, many of the faces tending to their plots have remained the same, but there has been an increase in diversity.

There are about 60 plots at the site in Gidea Park and more are tended to by women now than ever before, said Ivan.

Newcomers are welcomed and there is an active social community amongst the plot holders, including a coach outing to Wisley every year.

As well as enjoying the various attractions, attendees admired the plots that the holders had worked hard on. said secretary Penny Smith.

She said: “It was a great chance for all of us to socialise.

“The car park at the site splits the plot holders up so it was a nice chance for all of us to mix.

“We have also had some new people come to join in the last couple of months.”

Attendee Jan Cornwell who lives in Gidea Park said the momentous milestone had been thoroughly enjoyed by all.

She said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day.

“We were so pleased that so many people turned out.”

There were also ledgers on display from 1935 which recorded the outstanding rent owed by plot holders.

A hundred years later, old school methods of recording outgoings are still favoured, admits Ivan.

He said: “There hasn’t been much change! Now I just use a school exercise book.”

The allotment is self managed by the association meaning the group sets its own rents.

If you are interested in procuring a spot, visit the allotment shop which is open every Sunday between 10am and noon.

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