Allotment veteran Monty is Newmarket’s own ace of spades
After more than 60 years tending his allotment on Newmarket’s Field Terrace Road site, Monty Bowers has decided to call it a day.
Now 88, Monty was just 26 when he first started turning the soil on his plot in 1958.
Two years later he joined the committee of the Newmarket Allotments’ Association and later became its chairman, a position he was to hold for nearly 20 years.
The Field Terrace Road allotments had originally been under the control of Newmarket Urban District Council which had bought the site for 380 guineas from a local landowner.
“When I first had an allotment there were just three taps on each of the town’s three sites,which meant the holders all had very long walks carrying water along very rough unmade paths.” said Monty.
It was an issue he wanted to do something about and just before the urban district council morphed into a new district authority in 1974, he negotiated new water tanks, plastic pipes to replace the old cast iron Victorian network which were prone to leakage and got all the allotments’ paths relaid.
Another change which Monty oversaw was the reduction in size of some of the plots. Traditionally measured in rods, an old measurement dating back to Anglo-Saxon times, 10 rods was the accepted size, about the size of a doubles tennis court.
“That was just too much for some of the holders and because we had a waiting list I suggested we have some five rod plots,” he said. “Some people moaned at the time but eventually most said they were glad of the change.”
Monty, who lives in Edinburgh Road with his wife Mary, a former stalwart of the Newmarket branch of the British Red Cross, stepped down from the committee 12 years ago but continued tending his allotment until earlier this year.
On it he grew ‘just about everything’ including an apple tree which he leaves as his horticultural legacy on his plot which has now has a new keeper.
Although not quite one of the Dig for Victory generation who kept the country fed during the war years, Monty, who was also vice-chairman of Newmarket in Bloom for a number of years, said he felt allotments were as important today as they were then.
“I would encourage people to have one if they can,” he said.
“You can grow healthy food and make a lot of friends. I shall really miss the comradeship and friendship.”