Onions growing in a line

Onions by Paul Freeborough

With Christmas approaching, you may be thinking of presents for your nearest and dearest. Five gold rings would be nice, or even a partridge in a pear tree. How about a string of onions?  Before World War II, 90% of onions, a staple of British cooking, were imported into Britain, although they could so easily have been grown in British…

Photo of old photographs and letters

1851 Census by Paul Freeborough (Volunteer)

I’ve been watching a documentary on TV about Kensington Palace and was interested to note that the visiting public are not shown around by Tour Guides, but by Explainers. I know that job titles are forever being changed, but I never thought that Guides would be replaced by a more descriptive word. At STAA, we guide visitors around St Ann’s Allotments, but most of our…

Photo of dig for victory garden with anderson shelter in the background

Summerpods by Paul Freeborough (Volunteer)

I have previously written about summerhouses on St Ann’s Allotments during the 19th century. They provided gardeners with shelter, along with partying and storage facilities. Shortly before the outbreak of World War II a shelter proposal under the Hungerhill Gardens, rather than over them, was suggested.  In a city that is on the edge of a mining area, where thousands of men are living who know all…

Photo of a pink rose

Prizes by Paul Freeborough (Volunteer)

It’s that time of year when we begin to harvest those prize fruits, vegetables and flowers that we’ve been nurturing all year. Back in August 1871, the “hard-handed mechanics” of St Ann’s Allotments “gently and lovingly” handled their roses:   “They cut them affectionately, set them up tenderly, and the Roses respond by displaying their full beauty. It is impossible…

Nettles by Paul Freeborough (Volunteer)

It’s good to see that gardeners are experimenting with new crops and taking a serious interest in environmental management and biodiversity. Many of those interests are focused on what we eat, but there is a growing interest in what we wear. For many years we’ve become used to ‘plastic’ clothes, but traditional fibres such as…