The massive and daunting gate to Goddard’s Farm, makes you wonder if they have a problem with security round here. Consequently you enter with some trepidation.
Goddard’s Farm to the south of Reading first appears in committee minutes in 1929, when the proposed acquisition of 28 acres is mentioned. During the mayoral year 1929/30 negotiations with the owner Mr Gant take place resulting in purchase of the land for £2,400. An application was made to the Ministry of Health to sanction the borrowing (1). Mr Gant remained as tenant of the house, garden and pigsties, at a rent of £52 from 29 September 1930(2). More arrangements were put in place for Mr Gant to have a yearly tenancy of outbuildings and grazing land not required for allotments at a rent of £3 per acre. A Mr Bowman was granted free use of the pigsties when Mr Gant decided not to keep them, and a yearly tenancy of 1 acre at a shilling (5p) per pole was agreed. This rate was the same per pole as for the allotments which the Borough Surveyor was to lay out (3).
Soon some of this allotment land was lost to housing (4) and thereafter the minutes regularly report proposals and plans to balance the needs of the allotment holders in the area and the needs of housing. In 1934 some of the farm land was still being used for grazing and the committee minuted that they were to swap some of this land for housing if more was allocated for allotments at Manor Farm (5). In 1935 the library on Northumberland Avenue opened, a sure sign of approaching urbanisation and town planning (6).
Between the Wars, a vast swathe of allotments and farms existed south of Reading of which Goddard’s Farm was just part. There had been allotments at Grey’s Farm, further north since before the First World War. The Small Holdings and Allotments Committee on 8 December 1908 talked about the purchase of Grey’s Farm in Whitley (7). By 1911 allotments would appear to have been under the management of the council as an advertisement was to be placed in local newspapers advertising their availability (8). Goddard’s Farm and Grey’s Farm were two of the three Dairy Farms (the other was Whitley Wood Dairy Farm) for sale in 1906 by Samuel Ernest Palmer, Charles Herbert Palmer, William Howard Palmer and Albert John Palmer (9).
A beautiful sunny day when I visited Goddard’s Farm showed off some of the more exotic produce to best advantage.
Goddard’s Farm allotments are today in size a mere shadow of their former selves and all around are houses. Take the No 5 bus from Reading town centre to its terminus and sit at the front on the top deck. As the bus descends Northumberland Avenue look out to the horizon and Hampshire beyond and you can imagine what it might have been like when all was fields, and certainly before the M4 (which cuts just south of Whitley) was built.
|No. of plots: (10)||62|
|Full plot equivalent: (11)||43.9|
|Date allotments established:||1930 – council purchase.|
|Date taken on by Council:||1930|
(1) Minutes 20 January 1930 – R/AC1/3/44 (BRO)
(2) Minutes 16 June 1930 – R/AC1/3/44 (BRO)
(3) Minutes 29 September 1930 – R/AC1/3/44. These negotiations were concluded at a special meeting at the farm on that day. (BRO)
(4) Minutes of 17 November 1930 – R/AC1/3/47 (BRO)
(5) Minutes 19 March 1934 – R/AC1/3/56 (BRO)
(6) Reading Borough Library illustrations collection has some atmospheric images of the new (then called South Branch Library) e.g. Dynix No 1265669. These can be viewed on-line.
(7) Small Holdings and Allotments Committee 8 December 1908 – R/AC1/3/2 (BRO).
(8) Small Holdings and Allotments Committee 9 February 1911 – R/AC1/3/6 (BRO).
(9) Reading Borough Library – Oversize Estate Catalogue box 10.
(10) Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.
(11) 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.
(12) Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.
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