Peaceable Kingdoms

Throughout 1991/92 Peter Fryer and writer Graeme Rigby took photographs and talked with many of the 3,000 allotment holders and pigeon fanciers in Newcastle upon Tyne. This book looks at the people who keep these small but important pieces of land, which provide leisure, escape, work, pleasure, friendship and freedom, as well as food. This collection of photographs and stories shows the diversity of the people, culture and lives found within and enhanced by allotments.

The Secretary: John Masterton
“You’re either a gardener of you’re not. I’ve been a gardener all my life. I was a gardener without a garden. Then, when I retired, seven years ago, I took this garden here. People go away for their holidays. I just stay here. It’s beautiful. If I won a million pound on the pools, I can honestly say, I’d still come up here every day.”

Keeping Geese: Jimmy Lyddon
“When I first met the wife, when I married her, like, her father used to keep geese down the bottom here. I just got attached to them, you know. For years I said: “Ahhh, I'll get an allotment.” Well, the son got me this one and he bought me the geese. We had ducks, as well. My laddie always liked ducks. You can’t keep geese with chickens, because they’ll kill chickens, but you can keep ducks with geese. But they eat too much, the ducks. They’re like JCB shovels going round after grub. And they’re dirty. Oh, they stink. So we’ve just got the gander and the geese and now the young one.”

Incomers Like Myself: Liz Randell
“I think it was in the late seventies, when food prices were going up and there was a particular surge of interest in allotments: people growing their own food again. I mean, there were always people here, for whom it was part of their culture, their way of life, but I’m talking about incomers, like myself.
I had a friend on these allotments, who said: “Oh, Liz, there’s a spare allotment going - you ought to have one.” I said: “Oh, I haven’t got time,” because I was working and I had young kids and all the rest of it. And she said: “Don’t be ridiculous. Now’s your chance.” And I thought: “Oh, yes. You’re right.” So I got my name put down.”