Two Acts of Parliament in 1845 and 1882 encouraged local authorities to provide ‘field gardens’ for the ‘labouring poor’. The 1887 Allotment and Cottage Garden Compensation for Crops Act required county councils (then Lindsey in the case of Barton) to provide allotments where there was a demand. Following a further act of 1908 allotment land was handed over to the care of local councils (in the case of Barton its Urban District Council).
The Caistor Rd. site plots were larger than modern allotments, a quarter acre being common for ‘field gardens’ (this being about 1200 square yards). The typical urban allotment of the 1950s was 302 square yards, but since then surviving sites have often halved, even quartered, plots to make them more manageable.
The 1950 Allotment Act recommended four acres of allotment land be earmarked by local authorities for every 1000 of the population, this in the wake of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign. In reality it would surely be surprising if any local authority ever allocated such an amount of land.
Further legislation of 1908 and 1922 required local authorities to provide adequate land (for allotments) at an annual rental set at ‘what a person may reasonably be expected to pay’. The production of fruit, vegetables and flowers was to be for the consumption of the plot-holder’s family only.
Figures from the internet show the following numbers of allotment plots nationally; 1873 244,000, 1918 1,500,000, 1920s and ’30s declining numbers, 1942 1,400,000 1948 1,117,000, 1969 600,000, 2009 300,000. A government enquiry in 1969 found that the declining number of allotments was a result of; declining land availability, increasing prosperity and the growth of other leisure activities.