1. ITV Report

Pigeons and hens killed after fire destroys Newcastle allotments

James Matthews at the destroyed site Photo: NCJMEDIA

A man from Newcastle has spoken of his devastation after an allotment fire killed his prized birds.

James Matthews, 69, lost his plot at Coach Lane in Hazlerigg to the flames which broke out on 13 July.

The 150 racing pigeons, 20 chickens and the shed full of equipment were worth around £10,000, Mr Matthews said.

Fire crews at the scene Credit: NCJMEDIA

“I’ve had the plot for years, the vegetable plot was going really well, just coming to fruition.

“I spent four or five hours every day there, I’ve put a lot of work in.

“I’m really, really gutted and it’s upsetting to see that the birds have suffered in this way.”

– Mr Matthews

The retired telephone engineer said much of his time is devoted to tending to the plot.

Mr Matthews at the allotment site Credit: NCJMEDIA

“I couldn’t do it all again now, I’m devastated, and I’ve just got to give it up.

“I’m left with a gap in my life. It was more than just a hobby. I’m the sort of person who can’t sit about, I’ve always got to be doing something and this was what I did.

“I spend a lot of time woodworking too and I did that out there.

“I’d recently made a set of table and chairs for a friend, which I was storing in the shed, so I also lost that.”

– Mr Matthews

A spokesperson for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said: “At around 3.48pm, a crew from Gosforth was called to the Elliott Walk allotment.

“A further two appliances were sent from Gosforth and West Denton.”

The fire service said a wooden building was “severely damaged” while pigeons and chickens were killed. The fire was extinguished by three jets.