Pylons on Allotments

Waterloo Meadows Pylon

Waterloo Meadows Pylon

Yesterday (9 April 2015) a new style of pylon, the T pylon, was launched. Apparently it is the first new design in 90 years and you can see it in Nottinghamshire (1). Waterloo Meadows allotments has a wonderful pylon, that has been there since 1963. As an allotment feature it is not unique. In recently published book, ‘Growing Space – a history of the allotment movement’, Lesley Acton mentions Waterloo Meadows and also London sites Wanstead Park Road, Thornton Road and Leyes Road (2).

If you google ‘Pylons on Allotments’, there are lots of lovely images of pylons on allotments (including from this blog). I also discovered ‘Pylon Allotments’ a new site in West Sussex. Must be worth a visit for pylon and allotment lovers.

Notes

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32225276 – accessed 10.4.15

(2) Acton, Lesley. Growing Space – a history of the allotment movement. p141.

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Digging Around

Medway Allotments, with the uniform sheds provided on some Reading Allotments.

Meadway Allotments, with the uniform sheds provided on some Reading Allotments.

I stumbled on the Library of Birmingham, ‘Digging Around’ project a while back.

According to their website, ‘”Digging Around” offers you a glimpse of the allotment project funded by the Centre for Sustainability and Innovation at Aston University. This was developed in conjunction with staff from Birmingham Libraries and Archives and Dr John Blewitt, using many of the Central Library’s impressive archive collections.’

Some lovely photographs and press cuttings covering Birmingham’s allotment history and Birmingham’s place in British allotment history, including a section on Professor Harry Thorpe, and his influential report.

http://www.libraryofbirmingham.com/diggingaround

 

 

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Dig for Victory

DSCN2564

Mockbeggar Allotments, brought into use during the Second World War

Reading Museum have just published an online catalogue of over 2,000 objects and images. This includes a topic – ‘Dig For Victory’: Reading Produce Shows and Allotments – with 42 related photographs from the Berkshire Chronicle. Lots of lovely images of allotments and horticultural and garden shows up to the 1950s. If you have read my book ‘Reading Allotments’, you will know that in Chapter 17 I refer to the “Dig for Victory” exhibitions at Reading Museum and Art Gallery in 1940; so it was lovely to see that one of the images in the collection is the model of an allotment that was included in one of those exhibitions.

Previous blog post: World War II here.

note: I was involved in the online catalogue project as a Reading Museum intern.

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Portland Place Nursery

Portland Place Nursery Reproduced from the 1879 Ordnance Survey map of Central Reading.

Portland Place Nursery
Reproduced from the 1879 Ordnance Survey map of Central Reading

 

Serendipity!

I have been taking a University of Oxford, Department of Continuing Education course, ‘Shall We Cultivate Our Garden? Introducing Agro-Ecology & Sustainable Farming’ at the University of Reading London Road Campus. Looking at some old maps of Reading the other day I came across the Portland Place Nursery which in 1879 was right where the campus now is. As yet, I know nothing about the nursery but as I sit in my lectures I like to think about the things that used to grow here and perhaps that will inspire me!

 

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Implementation of the 1908 Act in Reading

THE TRIALS OF AN ALLOTMENT HOLDER Ever increasing interest in the pursuit of gardening i seeing taken in Reading and the neighbourhood, but anxiety to help one another is sometimes so great that unpleasantness often ensues. Berkshire Chronicle 20 March 1909. Copyright: Berkshire Chronicle. Reproduced with permission.

THE TRIALS OF AN ALLOTMENT HOLDER
Ever increasing interest in the pursuit of gardening is being taken in Reading and the neighbourhood, but anxiety to help one another is sometimes so great that unpleasantness often ensues.
Berkshire Chronicle 20 March 1909.
Copyright: Berkshire Chronicle. Reproduced with permission.

I have been researching Reading’s allotments in the early twentieth century from the time of the implementation of the 1908 Small-Holdings and Allotments Act. This caused a flurry of reports in the Berkshire Chronicle and an amusing cartoon.

I can’t say that I have ever suffered as this allotment holder did, but I may need to implement the advice in picture 4!

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“Reading Allotments” – NEWS

I have started to work on an expanded edition (or maybe a second volume ?) of “Reading Allotments”.

Initially this will include some new research on the 1908 Small Holdings and Allotments Act and World War I in Reading.

“Reading Allotments” concentrated on the allotments of today, or the recent past such as Cow Lane. There were many other sites in Reading that no longer exist which I will be investigating, including large sites such as Manor Farm.

Yesterday was the official start of this new project as I returned to the dizzy heights of Reading Library Local Studies Section to pore over microfilms of the Berkshire Chronicle for this period.

“Reading Allotments” is free to download for iPad from the iTunes store.

https://readingallotments.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/reading-allotments-now-available-in-itunes/

Reading Central Library

Reading Central Library

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Royal Agricultural Show – Henley Road Allotments

Royal Agricultural Show 1926

Royal Agricultural Show 1926

I discovered this photo on the English Heritage site “Britain from Above” (1) . It shows the site of the Royal Agricultural Show held in Reading in 1926.  The area that became Henley Road Allotments is in the top left hand corner of the image.

There are other images on the show on the site but usefully this one has the same orientation as the plan in the Show Programme, below.

The Implement Yard The 1926 plans of the show are copyright of Royal Agricutural Society of England and reproduced with their permission.

The Implement Yard
The 1926 plans of the show are copyright of Royal Agricutural Society of England and reproduced with their permission.

Comparing the two, the large tents in the image can be identified as the Flower Show. Next to these is the “Reserved Area”. This currently forms the centre of Reading Cemetery in Caversham.

There is a wider aerofilms shot too from a similar angle.

A  wider view of Royal Agricultural Show Caversham Park 1926

A wider view of Royal Agricultural Show Caversham Park 1926

You can find the original Henley Road Allotments Post here:

readingallotments.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/henley-road/

References

(1)  www.britainfromabove.org.uk. The digitised photos are from the years 1919-1953.

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Reading Allotments now available in iTunes

 

Waterloo Meadows

Waterloo Meadows

You can now download Reading Allotments the book free from iTunes.

Search on “Reading Allotments”.

The dust jacket says:

“Reading Allotments is a photobook and social history of the allotment in Reading, Berkshire, UK.

In chapters devoted to current allotment sites and key historic events, the book documents the history of allotments in the town over the last 100 years. 

The book is illustrated with more than a hundred colour photographs of allotments taken by the author, archive photographs and images.

Reading Allotments will be of interest to allotment holders, social and local historians and those who appreciate the beauty of this iconic feature of the landscape.”


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Reading Allotments – Book News

 

Cover of Reading Allotments

Cover of Reading Allotments

Happy New Year to all my readers!

Reading Allotments the book is now complete.

It is currently awaiting publication on the iBookstore. When it is available, you will be able to download it as a free book.

It includes chapters that have not yet been included on this blog and some additional photographs and material.

I will keep you updated on the publication.

 

 

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Circuit Lane

Circuit Lane Gate

It is quite clear that dogs are not allowed here.

The character of this site is determined by the number of structures that the tenants have erected. There are not just sheds, but many small greenhouses.

This site is behind the houses on Circuit Lane, Southcote Lane and Fawley Road. It first appears on maps in 1960. Circuit Lane is an old road sloping gently down past Southcote Manor to the Kennet. Most of the houses round here were not built until the 1950s. Before that there were allotments close by on the Bath Road in 1932 and several small gravel pits are shown in the area on 1932 and 1910 maps (1).

Productive Plots

On the opposite side of the Bath Road to the north of the site is Prospect Park. Prospect Park has been owned by Reading Borough Council since 1902 (2). During the war, a large area was taken over for use as allotments as part of the “Dig for Victory” campaign. Statistics from 1948, show that there were 274 plots, with 245 tenants. The difference of 29, being made up by plots unsuitable because of trees or being used for air raid shelters (3). At this time, Prospect Park Allotment Association ceased and the park returned to normal use (4). The park is the biggest in Reading and home to Reading Borough Council Parks Department.

View across the site

This is one of Southcote’s three allotment sites, five times bigger than Ashampstead Road and two-thirds the size of Lower Southcote.

FACT PANEL

No. of plots: (5) 51
Full plot equivalent: (5) 32.7
Date allotments established: pre-1960
Date taken on by Council: pre-1960
Previous use: gravel pits / open land
Status: (6) Temporary

References

(1)    Southcote Local Studies Pack, compiled by Alan Hankin. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(2)    Prospect Park Management Plan. http://www.reading.gov.uk/leisureandvisitors/ParksandOpenSpaces/ProspectPark/prospect-park-management-plans. Accessed 2.11.12.

(3)    Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 19 April 1948. R/AC1/3/98. (BRO)

(4)    Garden Notes. Reading Horticultural Federation. January 1950. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(5)    November 2008 Report to the Green City and Open Spaces Forum, 19 November 2008. Allotment Provision and Plan Update. Director of Environment Culture and Sport.

(6)    Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

PDF version 29 Circuit Lane

© Evelyn Williams 2012

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