A tour of Brighton and Hove's allotments

Tenantry Down Allotment Site
Photograph by Simon Tobitt
Onions (Barry Sharp's Allotment)
Photograph by Simon Tobitt

During Autumn 2005, My Brighton and Hove will be taking a peek into the city’s allotment sites – busy, green havens fenced away from public view. We will be speaking to some of the allotment holders that work plots in this city, to try and understand their motivations and uncover their gardening tips, hear funny anecdotes, and discover their hopes and fears for the future.

The My Brighton and Hove philosophy is to consider the city as it is today and as it was in the past. From an historical perspective, we have a very brief history of the allotment movement to provide a general background to the context of allotmenteering. There is a chronicle of allotments in Brighton & Hove, as they have appeared through the city’s newsprint media. There are also digital images from the original handbook provided to Brighton’s “Dig for Victory” diggers, producing food on the command from ‘Mr Churchill‘ to keep Britain fed during the war-time food crisis. Also, there are some helpful web links for those who want to pursue further interest in allotments.

From a contemporary perspective, we have interviews with allotment holders across Brighton & Hove. We will be adding to these week by week during the autumn.

In the first week we will be meeting Jenn Price and Marigold Rogers who have an allotment at the Horsdean site in Patcham. At the time of writing, the site is threatened with development into a park-and-ride facility.

Comments about this page

  • Wonderful!

    By Tony Tree (28/11/2005)
  • Simon! Congratulations on ‘going live’ with your long-awaited allotments feature. I enjoyed the first instalment and look forward to the weeks to come.

    By Andrew Webb (30/11/2005)
  • Well done Simon! I really like the pictures.

    By Louise H. (01/12/2005)
  • We had 2 allotments when I was little, one in Cravenvale and the other at the top of Bear Road. They were my dad’s pride and joy. So much so, that he’s buried just behind his old plot in Bear Road Cemetery. What memories, trudging up over the racecourse in bright red wellies, growing all our own veggies! In the summer the waste land was covered in wild flowers and bright red poppies. We wore our swimming costumes and the old galvanised water tank surrounded by marrows was used as a swimming pool.

    By Jenny (16/12/2005)
  • My father had an allotment top of Elm Grove on the Race Hill . The gypsies came nearby to hold their holiday fair in Brighton racing week, this was in the 1930s.  Two years running they raided the allotments and helped themselves to the vegetables grown by my Dad, after that he gave up. I well remember the long hard walk up Elm Grove from Upper Lewes Road.  I would watch the trams going by to the top of the hill, they cost a penny.  This was the time of the big depression

    By Cyril Pelham (30/09/2006)
  • 1909 was a really bad year for electrical storms. My great grandad, James Thompsett, born 1869 was digging in a storm, witnesses said he carried on digging even through the bad storm had started, he lost his life that day - his spade was struck. Julia Thompsett [nee Moon] born Brighton 1875 was living at Argyle Street with their 6 children: William born Brighton 1894, Nora born 1897 Brighton, James Joseph Thompsett born 1899 Brighton my grandad, John Obed Thompsett born Brighton 1903, Jerome Alfred Thompsett born Brighton 1904, Edward Patrick Thompsett born 1906 Brighton. My mother said James was a bricklayer’s labourer and used the allotment to feed his family, maybe that day he had to carry on digging because the weather had been so bad previously and he had to get it done. Who knows but it’s not worth the risk. That story has been in our family since 1909 and storms scare the living daylights out of me. Apparently there was a fairly new cinema near (either the allotment or their home, not certain) but money was collected for Julia and in the community also. Does anyone have any relationship with this story or photos? I would be grateful of any info I could add to my family tree. Before James married Julia in 1893, he lived in upper Lewes Rd and as a child he lived in Islingwood Street (is that now Islingword Road or are they different places altogether?). James’ father was a greengrocer / labourer George Tomsett (Thompsett later). Brothers: Obadiah born 1864 Lewes, plasterer’s labourer, and Harry born Preston Sussex 1877. Sisters: Emily born 1871 Preston, Ellen born 1872. Their Mum was Emma Tomsett (nee Bristow) born Wivelsfield about 1832. Thank you all for reading this. Janny James married Julia Moon in 1893 Brighton, in the 1901 census they lived at 43 Argyle Street Brighton. Anyone relate to this? Did Argyle Street become Argyle Road? Many thanks for your time, be so glad for any snippet of info no matter how small. I know that Julia’s parents and sister lodged with them in Argyle St. Before her marriage Julia lived with her parents and siblings in Little St James’s Street Brighton. Not coming from Brighton myself I have not got lots on my family. My grandad James J went on to marry in to another big Brighton family: Violet Mary Simmons born 1897 apparently in Islingwood Street also.

    By Janny Gibson (11/01/2011)

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