Monthly Archives: January 2021

Allotments 3.

Today’s blog starts with a picture of a delightful allotment plot in Prague, Czech Republic, this copied from the Allotments site on Wikipedia – this site focusses on allotment allocation around the world, giving the whole issue a global perspective.
Continuing the 20th century history of English allotments (s.p.b.) we come to the important Land Settlement Facilities Act of 1919. Although not dealing directly with allotments it provided the framework whereby physically able demobilised soldiers from the Great War could be provided with land and facilities for smallholdings thus re-establishing the principal that those disadvantaged in life should have access to land, perhaps as a form of compensation, this only if they wanted it and were physically able to cope. Thus the Shorter Oxford Dictionary’s definition states that allotments were for the ‘poor’, a factor no longer applied rigidly.
An Allotments Act of 1922 established some of the rights of allotment tenants – however at this moment I need to find out more about the Act’s details.
The Allotments Act of 1925 stated that a local authority had to provide statutory sites which could not be subsequently built on or sold-off without ministerial permission, so certainly from this point allotment sites became landscape features in urban and many rural communities.
The Allotment Act of 1950 apparently amended section 2 of the 1922 Act by its sections 2,3,4 and 5 but again more research needed on my part.
The National Allotments Society, as its name states, covers the whole U.K. and its website deals with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where the system varies from England, this partly a result of devolution as with the 2018 Act for Scotland, for example.
The standard size of an allotment plot in England was/is about 250 square yards, but this is flexible these days and allotment associations and local authorities often halve, even quarter, plots to accommodate people/families who do not want to take on too much.
(to be continued)

Allotments 2.

Allocations of land so that ‘all men’ might have their connection with the land has been a recurring theme of radical movements in History, these often alarmed at the growing disconnect between ordinary people and land ownership – this was the case, for example, during the Peasants Revolt of the 14th century, of the ‘Diggers’ during the English Civil Wars and, to an extent, of the vision of William Morris in the late 19th century.
The picture above (taken from Wikipedia) shows Bosworth Hall from the south-west. The Hall is in the parish of Husbands Bosworth on the southern edge of Leicestershire. The curious parish name includes the name Bosworth which figures in a number of east Midlands parish names, this including the site of the 1485 Bosworth Field battle site the result of which heralded the ascent of the Tudor family as England’s ruling monarchs. Anyway, the reason for this diversion is that according to the History sub-section of the website of the National Allotments Society is a surviving record of the local allotment site dating from 1846 stating that all allotment tenants had to agree to attend church on Sundays or forfeit their allotment and to agree never to work there on Sundays! This date would suggest that in this parish a plot of land had been allocated by a local landowner (probably the then owner of Bosworth Hall) for the purpose of providing the local poor with a means of worthy self-improvement (for more on this line of thought see later).
Allotments are we would recognise them today, that is plots tenanted from the local authority on sites run by a local committee, are products of the early 20th century. The website of the National Allotments Society tells us that the 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act got the ball rolling by requiring the local authority to provide such sites if requested by local people.

(to be continued)


The photo above is taken from Wikipedia and shows a group of boys (presumably the girls were indoors sewing!) in London in 1942 vigorously creating a growing area on part of a bombsite. Such activity was indirectly encouraged by the government by the Second World War version of the Dig for Victory campaign. Official figures show that there was a big increase in allotment holding during the World Wars, by 1918 one and a half million were being worked, a figure almost matched in 1942. As national crises subsided the take-up of allotments declined the figure for 2009 being 300,000. Of course to accommodate an increase in allotment provision land must be found and there is no doubt that a proportion of the plots registered during the Wars were on previously green public areas. There may prove to be a correlation between interest in allotment tenancy and national crises – the current pandemic may prove to be a case in point.
The official figures (see above) also gives totals for the second half of the 19th century – 244,000 plots existing in 1873 for example. As most legislation dealing with local authority provision of allotment plots was passed in the 20th century these 19th century figures will relate to landlord provision or parish provision of plots. It is worth noting that nationally there existed an almost equal number of allotments plots then to that of today and then with a much smaller population – in other words in the past private or purely local provision has been significant, a form of charity it might be called.
Interestingly the Shorter Oxford Dictionary defines one of four meanings for the word ‘allotment’ as being ‘a portion of land allotted to a special person’ and that this definition was first recorded in 1629. Another of the four ‘the division of a ship’s cargo into equal portions to be distributed among purchasers by lot’ sounds like Grimsby quayside fish market.

Update and Overview for 2021 6.

The photo above is a view west from near the top of the chalk scarp slope above the village of Worlaby, North Lincs., it shows the Vale of Ancholme in the middle distance with the dip slope of the Middle Jurassic limestone escarpment beyond. Worlaby is a spring-line village about five miles south of South Ferriby – if this lower vale had experienced the same historic urbanisation as the lower Hull valley the equivalent of outer Kingswood would be in view.

The topography of the two areas to be compared is similar but not identical. The Vale of Ancholme is bordered on the east by the chalk Wolds escarpment whereas the Hull valley’s eastern side blends into the post-glacial, undulating plain of Holderness. On the west side the Vale of Ancholme blends to the dip-slope of the Jurassic strata (see above) while on the west side of the Hull valley the lowland blends into the dip-slope of the Yorkshire Wolds. However both the Vale of Ancholme and the Hull valley are lowland areas, both at, or just above sea-level, both stretching inland from the shores of the same Estuary and both of similar dimensions.

By the 13th century both had settlements at, or near, the mouth of the river flowing across the floodplain and exiting into the Estuary, indeed at that time the one at South Ferriby (as now) was more established than the one at Myton (later Hull). So why did they develop so differently, that is the question being posed.

(Next week hope to start a theme on Allotments)

Update and Overview for 2021 5.

Just a final word about 19th century publications by subscriptions as discussed in the context of Poulson’s History of Holderness.

My edition of Ball’s History of Barton (s.p.b.s) is a reprint so am not sure if his original publication of the 1850s had a list of subscribers, if so I don’t have that list. He may have published it privately, as writers may do today, as he was a printer by profession. The other book I do know of that had a list of subscribers was Charles Frost’s Notices Relative to the Early History of the Town and Port of Hull; compiled from original records and unpublished manuscripts, published 1827. I do not have the list of subscribers at home so cannot do an analysis as did with Poulson. It is clear from this title that Frost and Poulson worked in similar ways to produce their histories, and I’m sure that some names will have cropped-up in both lists of subscribers.

I am not sure as to the precise sequence of events that led up to the publication of works such as those by Frost and Poulson. Was the invitation to be a subscriber published in a newspaper or trade periodical or were individual letters sent to prospective subscribers? Did subscribers get to see the finished product before parting with their cash or did they fund in good faith? Were the financial contributions published? And other queries related to the logistics of subscription based publications.

The current theme is based on my recording in the first Update and Overview for 2021 that I had offered two projects to the E.Y.L.H.S. – the first being Poulson’s History of Holderness – which I have introduced. The second project was to write a comparison between the sites of South Ferriby and Hull and to compare and contrast their respective histories. Will explain this idea in the next blog.

(to be continued).

Update and overview for 2021, 4.

Ball’s The Social History and Antiquities of Barton-upon-Humber, published 1856 and edited by George Poulson (s.p.b.) was different in style to Poulson’s earlier works on the histories of Beverley and Holderness (s.p.b.s) as well as being published in A5 size rather than wide A4 used by Poulson. Also, only a few sketches were included by Ball one being the view of St. Peter’s church (s.p.b.), Barton from the south (s,p,b,), this showing a portion of Tyrwhitt Hall beyond the east end of the church and the then relatively new Regency vicarage to its right (still standing).

Incidentally, another sketch that Ball includes is of the ‘Ferry Boat House’, see above. This rather fanciful-looking property was an example of a ‘baffle-entry’ detached cottage, that is on entering through the centre-entrance ground-floor doorway immediately in front would have been the side wall of brick-built central fire-stack, the pot of the central chimney stack showing in the picture. Two back-to-back fireplaces would have heated the ground-floor rooms either side and maybe two further fireplaces in the loft rooms (see gable-end loft casement window). A timber-frame skeleton sits on a high freestone plinth and the steeply-pitched roof would have been thatch, partly held in place by heavy bargeboards at either side.

The existence of this property seems confirmed by William Hesleden’s map of Barton compiled in 1835 which identifies the site of Ferry Boat House on the south side of Newport near the Finkle Lane junction. However, this site is some feet above the water level of Barton Haven and no evidence of a water-course between the two is in evidence today. Did a stream once flow leading into the head of the Haven up which Humber ferry boats might have sailed/rowed? Does the location of the Ferry Boat House have a completely different explanation?

This has been a bit of an aside from my current theme but I thought it interesting.

(Update and overview for 2021 to be continued).