Thefts from Allotments

handcuffsIn the early days of the H&DAA, the theft from allotments was treated very seriously and reports in the Western Daily Press appeared detailing the court cases that ensued.

Broccoli Theft

In May 1919 a case was reported in the press of a Mrs Elizabeth Tursley who was charged with the theft from neighbour’s allotment of two broccoli, valued at 1 shilling. The case was put into Detective Brinkworth’s hands and Mrs Tursley was arrested. She was brought before Bristol Police Court.

It emerged that her husband was a member of the Horfield & District Allotments-Association. She was spotted by witnesses going to the plot of a Mr .Osgood and was seen to bend down and take out two plants by the roots; she then chopped the roots off the broccoli, threw them away, and put the heads in her basket.

In court the prosecutor stated although the value of the two broccoli was only one shilling there had been cause for much complaint by allotment holders owing to depredations of this kind.

At one point in court laughter ensued when the defendant was asked

“Were Mr Osgood’s plants fit to eat?” and she replied

“I should like to have a few of them.”

The defendant swore that she had not taken the broccoli, However, the magistrates found her guilty and fined her £5 or 26 days’ imprisonment. They took this course in order to let it be known that the property on allotments was not protected except by the honour and honesty of the allotment holders.

Hard Labour for Stolen Marrows

In August 1924, another theft was brought to court, This time, a Mr Walter Davis, of 18, Harford Street, St. James, who was charged with stealing two marrows, valued at 6d and 8d respectively, from the Horfield allotments.

Mr Davis was seen on the allotments and, when challenged by a plotholder Frederick Feltham, said he was getting some rabbit food. Davis had a bag with him, and a marrow was found in it which Mr Feltham identified because it was the only one growing on the plant and was of peculiar shape. On being accused. Davis admitted that had taken it.

When he was taken to the Police Station to be charged, a second marrow was found which was identified by another allotment holder, Mr Francis Heath, as his property. Davis admitted the theft, and offered no excuse The Chairman said that accused was guilty of a very despicable offence. This pilfering from allotments must be stopped. It was a difficult thing to deal with as people went sneaking about the allotments. They not only stole things, but also did a great of deal damage growing crops.

Davis must go to prison for two months’ hard labour.

Pilfering Workmen

In January 1923, the plotholders of Buffalo Bill’s Field complained that workmen on the new road (probably Muller Road) were stealing crops from their plots. The H&DAA Secretary wrote to the City Engineer to ask for fences to be put up to prevent this recurring.