All plotholders will, at one time or another, have had problems with pests on their plots. Usually these include pigeons, slugs, blight virus and other such diseases. In the past, however, allotments were subject to much more dramatic interventions by interlopers.
Sheep straying on plots
On 4 separate days in July 1923 over 100 sheep escaped from the Downs and found their way to the Golden Hill allotments causing considerable damage to the growing crops, clearing one section of the plots nearest to Kellaway Avenue of all young green crops. Percy Biggs, H&DAA Hon. Sec. wrote to the Bristol Town Clerk holding the Downs Committee responsible for this affair.
Mr Biggs then proceeded to write several letters to the owners of the sheep claiming compensation of £19-4s-9d from one owner and £42-0s-1d from another. He also pointed out that the Downs shepherd had been informed of these incidents and they had also been reported to police.
After various correspondence with the sheep owners and the Downs Committee, it became clear that it was the Downs shepherd who was at fault and the Downs Committee who employed him who would shoulder the financial responsibility for the damage. Eventually the case was settled out of court and, after court and solicitor expenses were paid, the Association received a cheque for £16-10s in March 1924.
As a postscript to this incident, Mr Biggs wrote another letter to the Head Constable of Bristol Constabulary, commending the help that PC Gore of the Bishopston Division had given plotholders to impound the sheep. Mr Biggs requested that the Head Constable would “kindly allow him to accept the 10 shilling note enclosed as a slight recompense and token of our appreciation of his services.”
In Nov 1922 Percy Biggs, Hon Sec., wrote to Education Committee complaining that goats escaped from the Cotham School Playing Fields off Kellaway Avenue and “broke through the fence and consumed a considerable amount of our crops”.
In May 1922 a horse strayed from land near Horfield Barracks onto allotment land off Berry Lane. On behalf of H&DAA, the Town Clerk wrote to the owner to request him to mend the fence.
Children on plots
In October 1923 a letter was sent by H&DAA to the Headmaster of Bishop Road School concerning his schoolboy pupils who were seen trespassing on the Golden Hill site. They had broken the fencing around the pond and had been using the allotments as a playground, despite being warned by plotholders. Legal action was threatened should this continue.