The Dempster Challenge Cup
The Dempster Challenge Cup is awarded by the Allotments Committee of Winsford Town Council to the best-kept allotment plot at Over Allotments.
The sterling silver cup was made by Ollivant & Botsford, and hallmarked by the Birmingham assay office in 1924.
The cup was first awarded in 1926 by Winsford Urban District Council, two years after Over Allotments were established, and it has been awarded most years since then. It is Winsford Town Council's oldest community award.
The cup was repaired and fitted with a silver plinth collar in 2013, with room for names to be engraved to the 2030s.
The Dempster Challenge Cup is a barometer of the highs and lows of Over Allotments - see History page for more information. For the fascinating story of Miss Edith Dempster, who donated the cup, see below the Roll of Honour table.
|Winsford Town Council - Dempster Challenge Cup
Roll of Honour
|Year||Winner (number of wins)||Year||Winner (number of wins)||Year||Winner (number of wins)|
|1926||Joseph Bratt||1961||Horace Burgess (2)||1996||Dennis Rhodes (2)|
|1927||Henry Hitchen (1)||1962||Horace Burgess (3)||1997||Roy Ledwards (2)|
|1928||James Hardman||1963||William Bickerstaffe||1998||not awarded|
|1929||Henry Hitchen (2)||1964||Thomas Booth||1999||not awarded|
|1930||Adam Ikin (1)||1965||William Lever (1)||2000||not awarded|
|1931||John Done (1)||1966||William Lever (2)||2001||not awarded|
|1932||Peter Stubbs (1)||1967||William Lever (3)||2002||Robert H. N. Carter (2)|
|1933||Peter Stubbs (2)||1968||William Lever (4)||2003||William Flynn|
|1934||Peter Stubbs (3)||1969||William Lever (5)||2004||not awarded|
|1935||John Done (2)||1970||William Lever (6)||2005||Edward Tomney (1)|
|1936||Adam Ikin (2)||1971||not awarded||2006||not awarded|
|1937||John Done (3)||1972||not awarded||2007||not awarded|
|1938||John Done (4)||1973||not awarded||2008||Peter & Sue O'Brien (1)|
|1939||John Done (5)||1974||not awarded||2009||John Malam|
|1940||Dennis Phuler (1)||1975||not awarded||2010||Edward Tomney (2)|
|1941||Dennis Phuler (2)||1976||not awarded||2011||Peter & Sue O'Brien (2)|
|1942||Dennis Phuler (3)||1977||not awarded||2012||Rachel Manning (1)|
|1943||Jack Dutton (1)||1978||Robert H. N. Carter (1)||2013||Kenneth & Julie Nelson (1)|
|1944||Horace Gilbert||1979||not awarded||2014||Peter & Sue O'Brien (3)|
|1945||Jack Dutton (2)||1980||William Swift (1)||2015||Kenneth & Julie Nelson (2)|
|1946||Jack Dutton (3)||1981||Albert Palfreyman (1)||2016||Rachel Manning (2)|
|1947||Leonard Gilbert||1982||Albert Palfreyman (2)||2017||Fran & Graham Johnson (1)|
|1948||Jack Dutton (4)||1983||William Swift (2)||2018||Fran & Graham Johnson (2)|
|1949||Jack Dutton (5)||1984||Dennis Rhodes (1)||2019||Jim & Yvonne Kettle|
|1950||John Done (6)||1985||William Swift (3)||2020|
|1951||not awarded||1986||William Swift (4)||2021|
|1952||not awarded||1987||William Swift (5)||2022|
|1953||not awarded||1988||William Swift (6)||2023|
|1954||not awarded||1989||Robert Gooley (1)||2024|
|1955||Harold Ikin (1)||1990||Robert Gooley (2)||2025|
|1956||Harold Ikin (2)||1991||William Swift (7)||2026|
|1957||Jack Dutton (6)||1992||not awarded||2027|
|1958||Herman Galley||1993||William Swift (8)||2028|
|1959||Thomas F. Bailey||1994||Eric Frankland||2029|
|1960||Horace Burgess (1)||1995||Roy Ledwards (1)||2030|
Miss Edith Dempster
The cup was the gift of Mrs Edith May Pretty, née Dempster (1883-1942). Edith Dempster was the younger daughter of Robert Dempster JP (1852-1925), a wealthy industrialist from Manchester with interests in the gas and chemical industries. The Dempster family lived at Vale Royal Abbey, Whitegate, near Winsford, which Robert Dempster had leased from Hugh Cholmondeley, 3rd Baron Delamere, in 1907, while the latter was living in Kenya. Edith remained at Vale Royal Abbey until shortly after her father's death in 1925, when she and her elder sister inherited his estate, valued at more than £500,000 (about £16 million today).
In April 1926, Edith married her long-time suitor Frank Pretty, who had proposed to her every year for fourteen years. He was 48, she was 43. The local newspaper, in announcing the wedding, said of Edith that "… for many years [she has] filled the role of 'bountiful fairy' and her interest in all works of a charitable nature has won for her the highest regard" (Northwich Guardian, 9 April 1926). Edith was one of Britain's first women magistrates, she worked with the Red Cross in Britain and France during World War I, and was involved with the Albert Infirmary, Winsford, along with many other local causes.
In 1926, following her marriage, Edith gave up the lease on Vale Royal and purchased a 500-acre estate at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, to be closer to her new husband's business in Ipswich. In that same year, she donated the Dempster Challenge Cup to Winsford UDC.
Edith Dempster's links with Winsford ended in 1926. She left behind the gift of a silver cup for the allotmenteers of Winsford to compete for, but her greatest gift was still to come. In 1938-39, she employed Basil Brown, an archaeologist from Ipswich, to excavate a group of large earthen mounds on her Sutton Hoo estate, from which came the world-famous Sutton Hoo ship and a spectacular collection of 7th century Anglo-Saxon objects which she generously gave to the nation and which are to be seen today in the British Museum, London.
First awarding of the Dempster Challenge Cup
The Northwich Guardian of 30th July 1926 reported the first awarding of the Dempster Challenge Cup as follows:
Over Allotments Inspection
On Friday the inspection took place of the allotments on the north side of the Over Recreation Grounds, which were inaugurated three years ago and now number 55, the work of judging the plots being kindly undertaken by Mr H.W.Bromley, of Vale Royal, and Mr E.W.Pope, of Over Hall, who were much impressed with the improvement which has been brought about by the allotment holders, the evident thoroughness with which they tend their plots, and the friendly rivalry existing among the cultivators. After a painstaking examination of the allotments, which were of a high standard generally, the judges decided the prize-winners as follows:
1. Joseph Bratt, Victoria Terrace
2. Henry Kitchen, Well Street
3. Joseph Hodkinson
As the judges pointed out, the first prize-winning plot was an outstanding one and would fare well with any other in the whole of the district, Mr Bratt fully meriting the challenge cup, which was given by Mrs Frank Pretty. In order to encourage the allotment holders to cultivate flowers as well as vegetables and to improve the appearance of the allotments, a competition for sweet peas was arranged this year and attracted a very good entry, the prizes being donated by Mr Chas. Massey, junior, Mr & Mrs James Rutter, Miss Sally Dodd and Miss Hetherington. These exhibits were nicely staged in one of the huts which dots the grounds, and the prize-winning vases were shown by:
1. Jos Ikin senior
2. J. Ikin junior
3. John Parry
The prizes were afterwards distributed by Mr Chas. Massey JP, in the presence of a large gathering of competitors and members of the general public among whom the decisions of the judges met with common agreement. Mr Hetherington, the secretary of the committee and a pioneer in the scheme for allotments, had the secretarial duties in hand and carried these out with satisfaction.
Tracking down the winners' names
The cup and base are inscribed with the names of its many winners. Winsford Town Council has not kept a record of the winners' full names, so an appeal was made in the Winsford Guardian newspaper in May 2010, and readers got in touch to identify the cup's recipients. One reader got in touch to say that her mother had worked with Miss Edith Dempster in the Red Cross during World War I. Another said the cup had gone missing for several years and was eventually found at an address in Northwich! As names were put to initials, it became clear that the cup that was given by a woman had never been awarded to a woman, though that changed in 2012 when, after 86 years of male domination, Rachel Manning became, as the Winsford Guardian headline put it: "First lady of the allotments".
Miss E. Dempster JP Marriage Northwich Guardian, 9th April 1926
Over Allotments Inspection Northwich Guardian, 30th July 1926
Vale Royal: A History of the Abbey and nearby villages in the ancient Forest of Delamere, edited by Frank A. Latham (privately published, 1993)
The Woman Who Gave us Sutton Hoo, East Anglian Daily Times, 21st December 2006
Mystery of Community Award, Winsford Guardian, 5th May 2010
Cup Mystery Solved, Winsford Guardian, 19th May 2010
Rachel is the first lady of the allotments, Winsford Guardian, 1st August 2012
Repair and polish for Winsford Dempster Challenge Cup, Winsford Guardian, 2nd July 2013