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In pictures: Capturing the Wash Common plotters

Allotmenteers through the eye of Newbury photographer David Hatfull

Trish Lee

Trish Lee


01635 886663

The pandemic has provided professional photographer David Hatfull with the time to document life on his Wash Common allotment.

“WHEN it became clear in the spring of 2020 that the pandemic was going to be with us for some time I had to abandon the photographic projects that I had planned.

"I’ve had an allotment at Wash Common for more than 20 years, but have never really had the time to make any photographs, I was always too busy trying to keep my plot in order. Suddenly I had plenty of time, and was able to visit the allotment under lockdown rules.

"Originally I had intended to document the plots and their tenants over the period of the first lockdown, but as it became clear that the pandemic wasn’t going to end any time soon I decided to extend this to cover a complete year.

"For my personal work I always photograph in black and white using analogue film and making prints in my own darkroom. I worked with a number of different cameras, but especially liked using a portable panoramic camera, its format seemed to echo that of the typical allotment plot usually occupying a strip of land.

"When I took on my plot, most of the other allotmenteers were a handful of old boys now there is a huge variety of tenants, families with their children, single parents, young couples and, of course, some old boys – from all walks of life.

"Allotment folk tend to practise social distancing naturally, talking to one another across their plots, passing the time of day or comparing notes of their produce.

"For many its also an escape from the real world, a time to relax on a summer’s day and forget all the worries that the world is throwing at us at the moment.

"For those who have never been on an allotment they might look rather messy places and nothing like what you see on Gardeners’ World. Each plot is unique to its owner and I love that individuality. In the past it was all about make do, why replace a shed when it can always be propped up with some timber and nails? But there is a new breed of allotmenteers whose plots resemble the Chelsea Flower Show.

"As someone who often likes to work closely with my subject matter, having to follow social distancing rules was a challenge. Of course some activities will be absent from my photographs – the traditional autumn bonfire, folk gathering around the water tap for a chat and the end-of-the-season social get together.”

WCA001    Peter and his chickens

WCA002    Adi with his butterfly net removing cabbage whites from the fruit cage

WCA003    Lorna and her granddaughter

WCA004    Neil , Anne and Emma collecting cut flowers

WCA005    Jean with her fruits bushes

WCA006    Helen picking her runner beans

WCA007    Mel and Andy enjoying a warm summers evening

WCA008    Rachel and her crop of runner beans

WCA009    Steve Moving his grass paths

WCA010    Alex picking raspberries

WCA011     Tony and Kim on their organic plot

WCA012     Paul making a start on his new plot

WCA013     John visits his plot most days usually on his bike

WCA014     Sally relaxing with a cup of tea

WCA015      Alison, Roy, Jen and David and baby Corra, 3 generations on one plot.

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