Monthly Archives: April 2012

George Street

GEORGE STREET

The Path from the Gate to the Allotments alongside the Railway Embankment

Defra allocated £270,000 (1), which works out at £30,000 per plot, for remediation works on this site that had been contaminated by Benzo[a]Pyrene. Consequently when I visited in 2010 the allotments were as good as new.

George Street Allotments

Reading Borough Council’s “RECORD OF THE DETERMINATION THAT LAND, KNOWN AS GEORGE STREET ALLOTMENTS, READING IS CONTAMINATED LAND” under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, Section 78B was dated 16 September 2008. The source of the contamination was not obvious and was recorded as possibly due to the use of the site as allotments and previous domestic use for ash disposal. An allotment holder had alerted the council to the sight and smell of pollutant. It recorded that, “Concentrations of benzo(a)pyrene within the topsoil were generally found to be six times the ENVIROS screening value (ESV) for allotments, however in the area known to have been impacted by railway runoff concentrations are up to sixteen times greater”. Although there is no set level for the presence of benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogenic substance, the guidance was that levels should be kept as low as possible. Significantly, and thoughtfully, the council concluded, “Rather than prolonging the sense of uncertainty and hardship felt by the allotment holders, it is the decision of Reading Borough Council to make the determination using the currently available guidance” (2).

Newly laid paths

The site is not large and is really squeezed in between the railway line and housing at the end of Great Knollys Street. Before this site was managed by the council it was already an allotment site run by a tenant on council land under the management of the Markets and Estates Committee. The allotments are not marked on the 1912 Ordnance Survey map, although the plot of land is clear. In 1925 the site passed to the management of the allotments and small-holdings committee which gave the allotment holders new tenancies (3). Allotments are marked on the 1931 edition of the map.

Railway embankment

© Evelyn Williams 2012

FACT PANEL

 

No. of plots: (4) 9
Full plot equivalent: (4) 6.7
Date allotments established: pre-1925
Date taken on by Council: 1925
Previous use: Allotments
Status: (5) Temporary

 

REFERENCES

(1)    Cabinet Minutes 1 June 2009 available at: committee.reading.gov.uk/TROVEPROGS/TROVEIIS.DLL?/IS=810547951/LI=Committee+Minutes+Library/ID=40/OS=105/DI=4162/DS=4168/LO=1/RW=1366/RH=768/CD=24/VD=committee/WV=7/ST=ac/AC=AP/FI=502/HU=http:++www.reading.gov.uk+council+councillors-and-committees+committees+committee-minutes-library+

accessed 24.4.12.

(2)    GeorgeStreetAllotmentsDetermination170908.pdf available at:

http://www.reading.gov.uk/residents/Pollution/ContaminatedLand/public-register-of-contaminated-land-in-reading/

accessed 23.4.12.

(3)    Allotments and Small Holdings Committee 14 December 1925. R/AC1/3/36. (BRO)

(4)    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.

(5)    Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

PDF version here:12 George St

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Late Footnote to Caversham Court

If you would like to see a real truly sinuous crinkle-crankle wall, there is one in Reading. It can be seen from the Bath Road on the boundary of Lima Court.

Crinkle-Crankle wall

I am grateful to Adam Sowan’s “Abattoirs to Zinzan, Reading Streets and their names” for pointing out where I could find this .

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Henley Road

The Gate to Henley Road Allotments

Someone at Henley Road has a sense of humour. This site, one of Reading’s “temporary” allotment sites is right next door to Caversham cemetery from which the land is borrowed. Over the years as the cemetery has got bigger the area allocated to allotments has got smaller.

"LET"

In July 1926 before the development of the cemetery and allotments, this was the site for the Royal Agricultural Show. The show ran from 6 – 10 July. The show had been held in Reading before in 1882 when 82,943 had attended despite the bad weather. Big crowds were expected for this show as Reading’s population had doubled and transport had improved.

Showground
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.

The Berkshire Chronicle of 2 July 1926 carried a piece about where to see King George V and Queen Mary when they came to visit the show. The show also benefited from a surprise visit by the Prince of Wales, the patron of the Royal Agricultural Society on 7 July. This was in time to see his own shorthorn bull in the Grand Parade of prize winning cattle. Reading at the time was suffering an abundance of visits from the Prince of Wales, he had only visited a couple of weeks earlier on 25 June to open the new Caversham Bridge.

The programme for the show has a map recognisable today as the layout of this plot of land. Reading allotment holders may have been disappointed that there was no place for the exhibition of their crops at the Royal Show (1).

At the conclusion of the show 10 acres were set aside for allotments and it was noted that pigs were to be kept only on the side of the allotments furthest from the cemetery (2).

Occasionally detailed items of interest appear in committee minutes. Damage by cattle to two plots occupied by Mr W. Wigginton led to compensation of 10/- (£0.50) being paid in 1936 (3). The allotments may have narrowly escaped damage of another kind when an air raid on Caversham on 1 October 1940, caused damage to the adjacent cemetery and also Caversham “B” allotments. Straightforwardly, the committee resolved to fill in the craters (4).

Perfect!

The day I visited, dark clouds glowered over the hill.

 

Glowering Skies in Caversham

FACT PANEL

 

No. of plots: (5) 103
Full plot equivalent: (5) 70
Date allotments established: 1928
Date taken on by Council: 1928
Previous use: Part of the grounds of Caversham Park (6).
Status: (7) Temporary


References:

  1. Allotment and Small Holdings Committee minutes 22 February 1926. R/AC1/3/36 (BRO)
  2. Allotment and Small Holdings Committee minutes 19 March 1928. R/AC1/3/37 (BRO)
  3. Allotment and Small Holdings Committee minutes 13 January 1936. R/AC1/3/62 (BRO)
  4. Allotment and Small Holdings Committee minutes 7 October 1940. R/AC1/3/74 (BRO)
  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. The Caversham Park Estate was sold off in 1921 in various lots. In 1922 The Oratory School took over the house which subsequently became the home of BBC monitoring from 1943. http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk/about_us/cavershamhistory.pdf- accessed 16 April 2012.
  7. Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

PDF version here: 11 Henley Road

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