October 31, 2020|Reports

“Growing up in Hundred Acres in the 1940s and 50s” – Helen Talbot

Over fifty members and visitors joined our Zoom meeting to hear Helen Talbot talk about her early life in Wickham on Tuesday October 27th. Helen now lives in Edinburgh so it was some consolation for not being able to meet face to face that we can hear from speakers from so much further away.

Hundred Acres was built by Garnier family in the 1840’s to rehouse families moved when the land surrounding Rookesbury House was landscaped. The twenty four houses all had allotment gardens and the area is said to be the first to grow strawberries commercially in South East Hampshire.

Helen’s father, Percy Durant, was a remarkable man. He was a teacher, Spitfire engineer and horticulturalist. During the war he moved his family from the New Forest to a caravan in a small holding just adjoining Hundred Acres with his wife and two eldest children. Teachers then were very poorly paid, and often not paid at all, so he branched out as a market gardener to make ends meet. When Helen came along in 1944 Percy he moved them all into an old army hut he brought from Gosport but they had no running water or power for several years.

Nonetheless Helen had nothing but happy memories of her time in Wickham, attending Wickham  School with her brothers,’running wild’ in the Rookesbury woods and sledging on the road. She and all the family were put to work tending and selling the cut flowers they grew on their small holding.

Percy became a leading figure in the Hampshire Growers Association and was instrumental in its development. Helen had some wonderful photos, including a ploughing competition on Wickham Common, complete with a pantomime horse and plough. The Common was ploughed up for the war effort and looked very different. Members really enjoyed the talk and there were lots of questions and memories of Hundred Acres and the families who lived there.

For more on Helen’s talk, read her illustrated article.

Other articles related to the Hundred Acres area are:

  • Alfred Stubbington – Market Gardener.
  • Arthur Alfred Shawyer of Wickham Common.
  • Ron Parkins of Rookesbury Park Gardens.
  • Do you have something to contribute to the society?