Things To Do in West Allotment

Giant leeks were put on show after much secret feeding and top dressing.

At the front of the houses where I lived was an open area which was traffic-free, and where we could play.  Washing was strung from one side to the other.  It was also the place where the women congregated on summer evenings to chat. They often sat on small wooden stools, or crackets, as they were called.  All the traffic came up and down the cobbled back lane.  Just about all of it, as I remember, was by horse and cart.

Apart from the wireless, and reading, the women made proggy mats.  These were made from old bits of clothing which were cut into small pieces (I had this job) about three inches by half an inch.  A wooden frame was set up, covered with hessian and the pieces were poked through the hessian from the wrong side.

The men kept out of the way when this was going in.  I suppose they were at the local pub.  Dad didn’t drink but played billiards.  I remember him taking me with him to the local billiard room.  There were also reading rooms.  That was where folk caught up with the news as the papers were displayed there.

Granda taught himself to play the mandolin.  His great love, however, was his allotment.  He enjoyed growing vegetables and flowers, particularly huge cactus dahlias and incurve chrysanthemums.  A particular feature of the mining district were the leek shows and these are still held in many areas.  Giant leeks were put on show after much secret feeding and top dressing.  The competition was fierce as the prizes were very substantial.  There were a number of cases reported of cheating or destruction of opponent’s leeks.

Of course Sundays were for chapel.  There were two Methodist Chapels and you belonged to only one.  They only came together for Saturday Socials.  We went to chapel three times on a Sunday.  I can remember coming out of Sunday School with my Uncle George on the morning war was declared. It was a glorious morning and everyone was just standing around.  I was six.

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