|Memories of Philippe (Phil) G
Faucheux regarding the early history of Wivenhoe Allotment &
Gardens Association, more often known as WAGA.
During the late 1950s and
early 1960s the Vine Farm Estate was being built and in 1959 a sewer main
was installed from Rectory Road to Field Way, a new road built to the
north of the allotments.
would become part of the main road through the estate.
The laying of the sewer damaged various allotments.
There was also a water main laid from
to the Vine Farm Estate.
It was obvious to me, and several other tenants of
the allotments, we were under threat and likely to lose our plots to make
way for more housing in what was the fast growing village of Wivenhoe.
Major Tom Burt and myself decided it was time we got together with
other tenants and so we formed a committee and called ourselves the
Wivenhoe Allotment Association. This later gained a little more popularity
namely by joining the “National Allotment Society”, as it was at the
time, and purchasing seeds and sundries at considerably reduced prices
from the well known Seed Merchants (i.e. Suttons, Dobies, Marshalls) and
selling them to our members. The trading hut at this time was my own shed
Many more folk came forward to support us, and
joined, and our name became the Wivenhoe Allotments and Gardens
Association, or WA&GA for short. With the support of one Councillor,
Mr. Les Kemble, we took the Wivenhoe Urban District Council to task about
the damage, and our wrecked plots were made good for use again.
About this time I wrote to our M.P. Sir Julian
Ridsdale for the Harwich Constituency which Wivenhoe was part of at that
time. As Secretary/Treasurer,
I explained to him our problem and the fear that we may lose our
allotments. Sir Julian being a
keen gardener himself came to see me and the allotments. His advice and
help was good and so I wrote to Lord Sandford who was the Minister (of the
recently formed) Environment under the Government of Harold Macmillan. The
outcome from my efforts resulted in us being granted “Security of
Tenure” for 10 years. Due to
the laws regarding allotments, we are still here with our plots since
At that time (1960) we had approximately 25
tenants, with much of the land yet to be used, some plots had become
overgrown and so I put an advert in the Essex County Standard for folk to
apply for plots at the Council office. Within
a year all plots were rented and we had a waiting list for plots which is
ongoing to this day.
One of our good supporters was Farmer Mr. Claude
Watsham of Cross Farm. I
approached Claude about the state of the plots.
He quickly helped out and all the new tenanted plots to the east of
the site were ploughed up and cleaned by Claude and myself.
Since that time many of the plots have been split up/made smaller
to accommodate more tenants.
Over the years, through trading with seeds and seed
potatoes and fertilisers at the two old sheds I had purchased with the
help of builder Mr. Roly Wheeler, and with donations and subscriptions of
2/6d (12½p), we decided to stage our first show in the William Loveless
Hall in 1965 which proved popular and successful.
In 1966 we were able to stage the first Big Show
under canvas on the large meadow to the rear of Cross Farm where once
again Mr. Claude Watsham came to our assistance.
The Show was staged on the same day as the Football World Cup Final
. We obtained a big 50 foot x
50 foot extra marquee and, with a large television screen, visitors to the
Show were able to see
4 – 2 after extra time. Needless
to say the Show was a great success that year.
I had marked the Show out on crutches – I had
been disabled several months with broken legs and other broken bones as a
result of a motorcycle accident. Also
that year (1966) we had valuable help from Mr. Bernard Carter, a local
businessman and a keen gardener who had joined the committee.
The following years 1967, 1968 and 1969, we staged the Shows under
marquees on fields adjacent to the
and through the good fellowship of Mayor Tom Burt with his old Regiment,
the famous SAS, we had parachute displays and drops on to the showground.
We had sideshows, gymkhana, motor shows and tug-o-war from the
village pubs, in fact a fine day out for Wivenhoe folk.
The shows were always staged in July until, finally with the fast
growing Wivenhoe, we lost our showground to the builders.
During the earlier years 1960-1980 we had many dry
spells like those more recently of 2003 and 2004 and, due to the vast
excavations by the Sand and Gravel Company adjoining the allotments, our
water table was drained away to the pits and our plots were dry.
It became essential that we must get a water supply and despite
some opposition again from the Wivenhoe Urban District Council I
went ahead and contacted the Tendring Water Company in 1967.
After some prolonged discussions with the Council,
we finally had permission to lay a water supply. Once again, with
considerable support from Mr. Les Kemble and Mr. Roly Wheeler, I went
ahead and, despite further opposition the Council, with a digger manned by
Mr. Bill Gladwin, also a member of WAGA, we laid the pipe from
supply through the length of the allotment driveway and fitted four taps
and posts. This took several days of my annual holiday fitting and back
filling the trench.
By 1970 many new residents of Wivenhoe were joining
WAGA and were taking on plots, and the Council now allowed us to do
allocation of the plots and even collecting the rents.
Some folk who had once opposed me had now themselves joined WAGA.
With the water supply available the worry of drought had been eased
In 1967 Peter Duffield and his wife Diane joined
and became very keen members. Our two old sheds that I had used for
storage and trading were no longer good enough, and so by 1970, Peter
Duffield, as an expert carpenter, took on the task of building a
headquarters hut for trading and storage.
Mrs Wheeler and myself, and with the help of others, we laid a
concrete base. Peter made the
sections of the new hut in his garden, some distance from the allotments,
and so one Saturday morning with police protection we conveyed the
sections to the site and erected it.
The Council by now were supporting us somewhat
better and I was no longer public enemy number one.
We were established as a growing ‘community-minded’
Due to the pressure of work, and my own private
life to consider, my wife and sons especially and after three different
treasurers, who did not last, I was left with the double job once more.
At the next AGM I asked that the meeting should seriously elect a
Treasurer who would relieve me of the double job, especially as I was Show
Secretary as well. Mr. Roy
Hemstedt took over and that was a great relief for me.
He proved to be an excellent treasurer and performed in the job for
well over 20 years.
In 1976, the year of a severe drought, I resigned
as Secretary to become an ordinary member.
Mrs. Diane Duffield took over the position (she is still Secretary
in 2005!). She and her husband
have done a great job for the last 27 years.
The membership has increased annually.
After 1980 it became necessary to build another
hut, so once again Peter Duffield’s skill was put to good use and, in
1987, the year I retired from work on British Rail, Peter and I with the
help of other committee members built the second hut which is, of course,
the store room and work room for committee members weighing up fertilisers,
seed potatoes and many other items, plus storage of tools of the gardening
Our Sunday mornings are busy with a rota of
committee members manning the trading hut from 10.00 – 12.00, serving
the members that come from all parts of the Wivenhoe/Colchester area and
villages around. In 2004, I
reached the age of 80 years and may now ease up and have pleasure in
seeing many younger people taking up allotments and getting interested in
growing their own vegetables and flowers.
Today is June 23rd 2004 and there is a
little shower of rain after a lengthy drought although that shower soon
dried up in the wind. I’m
very glad I laid that water main all those years ago.
We learn that parts of
have had the wettest June ever recorded.
We unfortunately in Wivenhoe we have, in my opinion, the driest
June recorded – let us hope July is better for rainfall.
Our shows are now staged in the Wivenhoe’s William Loveless Hall every
September. Our present
Chairman Mr. David Darlington continues to do an excellent job, with Diane
Duffield as Secretary, and Mr. Richard Gladwin as Treasurer, and with a
lively committee, we intend to keep gardening in Wivenhoe growing.
Philippe (Phil) G. Faucheux
Above: The Wivenhoe Allotment and Gardens Association
stand at the Tendring Show in 2003, where it was awarded 2nd place by the Show judges. On
the stand (left to right) are Peter Duffield, Sid and Ann Price, Di
Duffield and Richard Gladwin.
Left: Phil Faucheux enjoying himself at the
here for an aerial photograph of the Allotments and click
here for the WAGA's home page