Tom took over his allotment at Manor Gardens from his father in 1948. Manor Gardens allotments have now been cleared and relocated to make way for the Olympic development.
Listen to an interview with Tom.
You can also read excerpts from the interview below.
Oil on canvas, 120x90cm, 2008
I took over the plot (from my father) in about 1948 and I've been there ever since. I got the bug (for gardening).
At the back of the allotments was a chute, a landfill. One day I saw 3 or 4 pianos go down the hole! We got to know the bloke who drove the bulldozer and he kept aside any useful material for us. On one of our forays to the chute, we found piles and piles of lovely doors - up the allotment they went and that's how we got our big community shed!
In them days, just after the war, you got a fortnight's holiday and you paid for one of them! We had a week in Ramsgate and a week at the allotment.
There are (other) allotments but this one was unique. The place was unbelievable - it was an island surrounded by water (River Lea on one side). Lea Valley Park made a nature reserve at the back of it. You walked out of Hackney... into Shangri La!
There's several of them buried up there - they wanted their ashes scattered there. My kids said "That's where you're going." but they won't go there now!