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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

family’s meal.

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)

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