Monthly Archives: October 2018

30th October, 2018. Allotments (continued).

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.

29th October, 2018. Allotments (continued).

Allotment sites I am familiar with are; Dam Rd., Barton, Clough Rd., Hull, Hotham Rd., Hull, southern side of Beverley south of Keldgate (a site under imminent threat of being sold for building some years ago but saved by local action), Ferriby Rd., Hessle, at northern approach to Paull village and doubtless others I cannot bring to mind at the moment. Recently noticed a large allotment site near the River Ouse at Selby (from the trans-Pennine train window), there appeared to be a lot of neglected plots a  situation that encourages developers or local authorities (or both hand-in-glove) to press that the land could be put to ‘better’ use (by generating an income for both). Incidentally it is also a situation which frustrates the enthusiastic allotment tenants as their plots are seeded by neglected neighbouring plots, a situation that may result in the productive tenant giving-up the struggle (a situation that echoes one of the main criticisms of the open-field system of parish land allocation and which was given as a benefit of Enclosure by Arthur Young, Secretary to the Board of Agriculture in the early 19th century.

In Barton the allotment situation is particularly interesting. The current, well used, site is west of the A15 and beside a part of Dam Rd., a post-Enclosure lane. However certainly up to the 1930s (and probably the Second World War) Ordnance Survey map evidence shows this not to have then been an allotment site. However, the 1908 Ordnance Survey 25 inch map of Barton and its surroundings shows allotment plots on a 24 acre post-Enclosure field on rising land outside the town and immediately east of Caistor Rd., this area now the location of the Caistor Road estate built in the 1960s and’70s. Barton’s Enclosure Award of the 1790s shows no evidence that the land was then allocated for allotments although the 1888 25 inch Ordnance Survey map (First Edition) shows the land as such by then.

(To be continued).

24th October, 2018. Allotments (continued).

The aerial view plan above is a copy of an ancient manuscript showing the town and port of Hull in the 14th century. The original is classified as ‘Copy of an Ancient Plan of Hull, reduced from a drawing in the British Museum, Cotton MSS, Augustus 1, Vol. 1, fol. 80’. One (of many) interesting features is that it shows the built-up area of the medieval town surrounded by rectangular fields with some apparently being orchards but with most sub-divided internally into oblong or square blocks, these next to the town walls which were in the process of being built in the 14th century (whether this means that the plan was drawn in the very late 14th century or that its dating is inaccurate I couldn’t say).

So were these blocks within the fields early allotments? Certainly the image of the built-up area shows little land available for gardens attached to the properties, so maybe the plots were detached gardens each allocated to a given burgage plot. Given certain circumstances the notion of a detached garden plot is perfectly reasonable, being attached to a property rather than a person and in that sense not, strictly speaking, an ‘allotment’.

(To be continued).

23rd October, 2018. Allotments (continued).

A particularly interesting allotment site locally is the one in Hessle, sited at the bottom of a disused chalk quarry beside Ferriby Road it is interesting to look down and see the, mostly, well-used and valued allotments. This relatively small quarry was the ‘parish quarry’ from which chalk clunch might be taken by the parish authorities for such things as the filling of ruts in un-surfaced parish roads or for hard-core foundation stone. The equivalent parish quarry in Barton, beside Barrow Road and opposite the civil cemetery, now has a small housing estate located there, it must be interesting where some gardenst lead to the base of the surviving quarry cliff sides. The equivalent site in South Ferriby parish is beside the A1077 road to Barton near the top of the scarp slope S bend in the road, it now is the site of a small wood but otherwise is not so obvious as it is not so deep as the others.

It could be argued that allotments were a product of Enclosure Acts in that each parish’s Act allocated relatively small plots of land to villagers who previously had only minimal rights to pasture their animals on the common-land. However, these plots were usually somewhat larger than later allotments proper. In the Enclosure Award for Great Somerford parish in Wiltshire an area of land was allocated to be divided into allotments for the poor, not sufficient for them to subsist off but sufficient to provide meaningful occupation when the tenant was not at work and capable of supplementing his family’s food supply. This was probably the first use of the term allotments as we would recognise it.

(To be continued).

22nd October, 2018. New nature reserve at East Halton/ Killingholme.

Am just interrupting Allotments theme to highlight something I encountered yesterday while walking Humber bank promenade at East Halton ‘marsh’. The series of previously large arable fields immediately inland of the concrete embankment flood defence are now in the process of being transformed into what will be a wetland nature reserve. This is a large area of, I would guess, 150-200 acres. Sections of mature hawthorn hedges, that previously defined field boundaries, have been uprooted (not sure why). A series of mostly parallel straight shallow channels have been excavated across the site, these with very gentle gradient sides, possibly for ease of access by waterfowl and reptiles. In some places the channels seem to form a sort of square. The drainage ditches that previously ran alongside the hedges have been left, but in places piped below vehicle access points.

Even though there were a few rod-and-line fishermen as the tide was flowing the quiet was palpable all except for the swish of the very shallow wind-waves breaking against the rocky base of the embankment.

There were three ships anchored at the North Killingholme jetties and R. reported that she now had to wait for a security person to take her across the access road (public right of way) rather than being free to cross as before. Had a car transporter docked (Mercedes?) as well as container ships.

The lone bungalow standing just inland of the embankment and owning (I think) the site of its neighbouring redundant brick works with a surviving tall chimney had a few goats, pigs and sheep but otherwise seemed run-down.

Clearly I need to find out more about the wetland development.

21st October, 2018. Allotments (part of forth-coming W.E.A. course (s.p.b.).

Although the above picture, taken from the internet, is of an allotment site near Middlesbrough allotment sites in Hull and Barton are well-used and, generally, well looked after.

Each allotment site has its own organising committee and doubles some are members of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners. Allotment sites are also supported by the Open Spaces Society. To the best of my knowledge all local allotment sites are owned by the local authority although nationally, and certainly in the past, allotment land may/might have been donated by private landowners or the Church.

Leisure Gardens is a term more commonly used on the continent where there is more of a tradition of some allotments being more like second homes. Seemingly the earliest allotments so defined were in Denmark in the late 18th century with other European countries mostly picking-up the idea in the 19th century. An incentive to do so was the industrialisation and urbanisation of the First Industrial Revolution, in Germany, for example, allotment sites were promoted in towns as ‘gardens for poor’ and play areas where children could re-commune with Nature. In pre-revolutionary Russia they were perceived more as ‘places of resort’ for the wealthy. The impact of the two World Wars resulted in a huge increase in allotment provision within combatting countries, this tending to tail-off after each conflict with increasing demand for land for other purposes in the urban environment.

This tailing-off of interest has been met by a policy of letting allotment units in smaller, more manageable, less time-consuming sizes. Many allotment tenants invest in sheds and other fixed assets although security can be a big problem. Most sites in Hull are security fenced with locked access gates (presumably tenants have keys or maybe the sites are just open for parts of the week.

(To be continued).