Mortonhall Road Allotments
Looking down on the Grange from Blackford Hill . . . the allotments in Mortonhall Road [used to] form
one of the few remaining pieces of open ground. [I] remember my father planting potatoes and tending
cabbages there and trundling home the wheelbarrow laden with leeks and broccoli or the ingredients
for a salad.
That allotment was in fact the last of three he maintained from the early days of the Second World War.
Do the present inhabitants of Blackford House and Charterhall Grove realise that the ground they now
live on kept not a few families in vegetables for many years? The gardeners moved in after the original
house was reduced to rubble (not by a bomb – I understand that the building had become unsafe) and
once they had erected wire-netting fences to keep out the rabbits, were soon digging and planting,
hoeing and harvesting. These men may not have been fighting in North Africa or Normandy but they
did respond to the poster ‘Dig for Victory’.
My mother must have been glad of the healthy additions to our food rations and encouraged my father
to grow more. How he was offered another piece of ground in what is now Monkwood Court in
Kilgraston Road I do not know. I suspect the owner of the large house and garden was also one of the
ARP wardens centred at 6 Oswald Road. (Perhaps someone else remembers about that group?) The
handsome gates behind which the rather dark and mysterious house stood were heavy for a small girl
to open, the surrounding trees and bushes seemed a bit frightening to walk through, but the lower garden
was open and sunny and the row of Dad’s peas provided an extra snack as I picked enough for the
Boiled leeks in a cheese sauce or spinach and a poached egg – we kept six hens in the back garden – made
a good high tea in winter, while we would be enticed home in the long evenings of double summer time
by the promise of lettuce and Marmite sandwiches. Ah! those games of kick-the-can in the forecourt of
the garages at the end of West Savile – but the places where we played is another story.
Lorna Mill – Newsletter No 57 – Autumn 1994
(see World War II: Children at play)