Monthly Archives: November 2012

Reading Allotment Rules

The sign at Newcastle Road Allotments

I have a tenancy agreement with Reading Borough Council for my allotment. This agreement sets out my responsibilities as a tenant and the council’s responsibilities as my landlord. It also deals with when rents are due, how and when notice is to be given by either party, and grounds for termination of the agreement. The legislation governing the agreement is The Allotment Acts 1908-1950.

Taking the framework of rules used by Robert Ruegg, which forms a chapter in “Breaking New Ground” (1), an analysis of current rules and the Reading 1908 rules (produced in 1910) was carried out (2). In Ruegg’s framework, the rules fell under three headings, Administrative, Practical and Behavioural.

The 110 sets of 19th century rules and agreements analysed by several contributors were largely from the middle decades of the nineteenth century (3). The latest were two sets dated 1873 (Upwood Field Allotments and Saxtead Allotments) (4) another “pre-1879” Brixton Deverill (5); the earliest 1825 (Balsham Allotments) (6). The agreements were from a wide variety of landlords and a wide geographical spread. The analysis included two sets of rules from Berkshire (Windsor and Wargrave) and three from Oxfordshire (Shotover Park and Finmere at two different dates).

The framework of rules holds good over almost two centuries. The basic requirements of the relationship between allotment tenant and allotment landlord are simple and clear.  Conclusions that can be drawn from the data are that the current rules show a strong similarity to those of 1910 (a century ago). This is primarily because the legal framework for the letting of allotments by local authorities at the beginning of the twentieth century, starting with the 1908 Allotments Act, did not include the “behavioural rules” that were incorporated into many of the earlier agreements.  These were from a very diverse private and public, landlord or manager base in a different cultural and economic environment (7). Nevertheless, at a detailed level they give a very interesting picture of earlier allotment history and the timeline to today’s allotments.

Chart 1. Rules Framework, frequency distribution from analysis of 110 sets of rules.

Ruegg, Robert (2010) ‘Allotment Rules’ p157, in Burchardt, J & Cooper, J (Eds) Breaking New Ground: Nineteenth century allotments from local sources, 2010, FACHRS.

The 1908 Act repealed and consolidated previous allotment legislation. The Act restricted the eligibility criteria for local authority allotments to “the labouring population”. This criteria appears in the 1910 rules but the wording was removed by the post World War I Land Settlement (Facilities) Act 1919. The removal of this restriction is a fundamental and modernising change in public allotment provision.

Developments in Reading council rules over time include the inclusion of new rules in the “other” category of the requirement to display the allotment number and a ban on the use of hoses and sprinklers. Some of these rules appear on the signs at allotment gates, but the pattern is not universal.

Restrictions on use of my allotment are minimal except in relation to buildings and livestock. The erection of sheds is allowed on application. It should not be used for anything not connected with the allotment and in particular, “..the Tenant shall not store any motor vehicle thereon.” Keeping of livestock is again on application and restricted. In relation to both these restrictions policy has shifted over time.

In the 1910 rules, application was only required for erecting any building except a “…summer-house, a tool-house or a pigsty.”. In reviewing committee minutes, there was an example of application for permission to park a car in a shed on Goddard’s Farm allotments. This was deliberated on, permission given and a charge of 5s (25p) a week was decided on, only for the application to be withdrawn (8). In the late sixties the committee rejected a request to provide car parking spaces “for the residents of the neighbourhood” at Scours Lane (9). Given Reading’s parking problems it is probably just as well that this is prohibited.

In 1950 the committee restricted pig keeping. Where the land was suitable for cultivation, a pigsty for a maximum of four pigs only would be allowed (10). Two years later, pigs were only allowed on selected allotments of which Bulmershe is the only one remaining (11). In 1965 only one plot per person was allowed for pigs or chickens, on Caversham “C”, Bulmershe or “land unsuitable for any other purpose” (12). The current rules include a limit on the number of chickens that can be kept and in any case the keeping of pigs, chickens and rabbits requires the permission of the Head of Leisure.

There is a requirement and expectation that an allotment is for the personal use of the allotment holder and family and not to be run as a business enterprise. Hence, there are rules on “no underletting” of the plot and the 1910 rules did not allow use as a market garden. Reading rules are silent on the sale of produce. In 1998 a select committee recommended that rules on selling produce be considered on a site by site basis (13). Commercial exploitation does not seem in keeping with the allotment ethos, but an active debate is taking place on this topic (14).

Because of the increase in demand, Reading Borough Council in 2008, limited the number of plots that an individual could hold to two and decided that preference would be given to Reading Borough residents in areas of high demand (15). These criteria are not itemised within current rules. The 1910 rules required the applicant to disclose any other holdings of land and there was an overriding limit of five acres of allotments. There was also a residential qualification of living within the Borough.

References 

(1)    Ruegg, Robert (2010) ‘Allotment Rules’, in Burchardt, J & Cooper, J (Eds) Breaking New Ground: Nineteenth century allotments from local sources, 2010, FACHRS. Detailed data is available on the CD that comes with the book. The rules framework and analysis is a development of that in “The Allotment Movement in England, 1793-1873”, Jeremy Burchardt.

(2)    County Borough of Reading. RULES with respect to Allotments. Reading Borough Library, Local Studies Collection.

(3)    A few are undated or imprecisely dated. Robert Ruegg also cautions the difficulty of absolute precision in dating.

(4)    Upwood Field Allotments, Upwood and Raveley; Saxtead, Suffolk.

(5)    Balsham Allotments, Cambridge.

(6)    Brixton Deverill, Wiltshire.

(7)    Ruegg uses the following categories: public, church, private landlords, peers, allotment societies and charities.

(8)    Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 6 April 1936 and 15 June 1936. R/AC1/3/62. (BRO)

(9)    Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 26 June 1968. R/AC1/3/143. (BRO)

(10)  Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 20 March 1950. R/AC1/3/103. (BRO)

(11)  Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 21 July 1952. R/AC1/3/112. (BRO)

(12)  Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 15 November 1965. R/AC1/3/139. (BRO)

(13)  Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. Fifth Report 1997/98. The Future of Allotments. This recommendation was based on the matter not being appropriate for national legislation. The report is available at: accessed 13 October 2012. Key points are summarised in Paul Clayden, The Law of Allotments, 5th edition. Sweet & Maxwell.

(14)  For a review of the arguments, see “Selling Allotment Surplus: Is it Legal? Is it Right?” http://www.organiclea.org.uk/resources/publications/, (2007) accessed 13 October 2012.

(15)  Reading Borough Council cabinet minutes 14 April 2008. Committee minutes library: http://committee.reading.gov.uk/TROVEPROGS/TROVEIIS.DLL?/LO=25230588/LI=Committee+Minutes+Library/RW=1366/RH=768/CD=24/HU=http:++www.reading.gov.uk+council+councillors-and-committees+committees+committee-minutes-library+

accessed 11 October 2012.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

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Coley

The gate to Coley Allotment Gardens

The development of Coley Park, and other estates around Reading, that took place in the 1950s required the proper provision of allotments for its residents and Coley Allotment Gardens are the result of that policy. However the story of Coley allotments is much less straightforward than this statement suggests.

Green and Trees

Plans for development in the area began before World War II. At that time there were private allotments between St Saviour’s Road and Holy Brook and on Shaw Road. In May 1939 there were a total of 142 tenants; 34 on the former and 108 on the latter site. The land that the Allotments and Small Holdings Committee wanted to acquire was building land, which at £400 to £600 an acre was  more than the Finance and General Purposes Committee was prepared to pay. The Berkshire Chronicle heading “ALLOTMENTS AT BUILDING SITE PRICE”, “QUESTION OF PRINCIPLE”, sums up the discussion perfectly (1).

Coley Park allotment tenants already had the attention of the Council. In September 1938, the Mayor, Councillor P.E.Langston, opened the Coley Allotments Holders’ Show at St Saviour’s Hall. He was reported as saying, “There was a little danger of the Coley Allotments going, but he thought they would be able to do something about that and he would give them hopes that they would not lose anything.”. The President of the Society was the Reverend George Raymond Webster (2). The next month’s coverage of Council proceedings quoted Councillor William McIlroy, “The land he had in mind had been allotments he believed for 100 years, and there were instances where men had inherited from their fathers and had been in occupation over 50 years.” (3).

In the 1930s, the Council embarked on a series of slum clearances which included areas of Coley. So, in the 1939 discussions it is interesting to hear what the Councillors are reported as saying. “Councillor Lewis said that Coley, despite the fact that many houses had been pulled down, was still a very congested area, and had very narrow streets. People in Coley could not afford to travel long distances to allotments, and in some cases cycling long distances was out of the question.” Then followed the Deputy-Mayor (Councillor Langston), “…I think it would be a severe hardship to these good people of Coley to lose their ground. Coley is a very old part of Reading, and the least colourful. I was going to say drab, but it is not so drab as it used to be. I think this amenity for that district is for the good and the health of the people.” Some amusement was caused when Alderman Mrs Jenkins asked Councillor Smart, who had described himself as such, what “an allotmenteer” was. His opinion on the matter under consideration, was that if the allotments were taken away, “The people would have to find other means to utilise their spare time – not so profitable perhaps, as spending it on allotments.”. The result of the deliberations was that the matter was referred back to the Finance Committee (4).

Housing development on the northern edge of the allotments

Ultimately, the outbreak of war halted the immediate prospect of building development. Coley Allotment Holders Association became members of the Federated Horticultural and Allotment Association of Reading in 1941 and tenants continued to enjoy their allotments (5). During the war, the Berkshire Chronicle reports on their annual shows held at the end of the each summer (6).

Chives

Post war, a new association was formed and in 1948 the Coley Gardeners’ Association joined Reading Horticultural Federation (as the wartime Association was then called)(7). At the June 1952 committee meeting, the secretary reported that Mr Bucknell (owner of the land) had told him that the allotments were to be taken over by the council. Protest letters to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Council were planned and they requested the support of Reading Horticultural Federation. Their concern was that they should not have to vacate their existing plots until the new site was ready for cultivation (8). The president of the Allotments and Small Holdings committee, Councillor Dorrell had been made vice-president of the Association in 1951 and appears to have continued in that position until he became president in 1956. At the AGM in January 1954 he addressed the members, assuring them of the efforts being made by his committee on their behalf (9).

The Association was formally wound up in 1960 and its books, records and bank balance of £12 16s 3d (£12.81) were handed over to Reading Horticultural Federation (10). The Secretary’s report for 1956 (which would have been given at the 1957 AGM), records, “…a year of tension and matter of hanging on…”. In September, the new site had been taken over by the Council. Looking forward, the Secretary proposed that, “…the finest way to repay the Allotment Committee of the town council, Reading Horticultural Federation and past and present officers is by keeping a vigorous association.”(11).

Between 1948 and 1960, the Association committee generally met at the Brickmakers Arms on Wolseley Street (closed in 1959) (12). Formal occasions such as the AGM and lectures were usually held at St Saviour’s Hall (13).

Coley horticulture

Preference for the new allotments “Coley Park Allotments” was to be given to tenants who had lost their plots to building. The rent set in 1956 was 1s 0d (5p) per pole per annum (14).

The Churches In Reading Drop In Centre (CIRDIC) is based in St Saviour’s Church Hall on Berkeley Avenue. Given the past strong links between St Saviour’s Hall and Coley allotments it is fitting that this continues with the CIRDIC allotments at Coley. The centre has a volunteer professional head gardener. The aims of the plots are twofold; to provide an activity for guests at the centre of working on the allotment and to provide vegetables for the meals prepared in the CIRDIC kitchen (15).

FACT PANEL

No. of plots: (16) 41
Full plot equivalent: (16) 32.6
Date allotments established: 1956
Date taken on by Council: 1956
Previous use: farmland / open land
Status: (17) Statutory

References

(1)    Berkshire Chronicle 5 May 1939. (Report on Council Meeting). Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(2)    Berkshire Chronicle 9 September 1938. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(3)    Berkshire Chronicle 7 October 1938. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection. Councillor McIlroy represented Minster Ward.

(4)    Berkshire Chronicle 5 May 1939. (Report on Council Meeting). Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(5)    Berkshire Chronicle 28 February 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(6)    Berkshire Chronicle, for example 11 September 1942, there is a report on the 20th show. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(7)    Garden Topics 2 June 1948. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(8)    5 June 1952. Coley Gardeners’ Association minutes. D/EX 1820/2/1/2. (BRO)

(9)    26 January 1954, AGM. Coley Gardeners’ Association minutes. D/EX 1820/2/1/2. (BRO)

(10)  Coley Gardeners’ Association minutes. D/EX 1820/2/1/2. (BRO)

(11)  Coley Gardeners’ Association. Report of the Secretary 1956. D/EX 1820/2/2/1/2. (BRO)

(12)  Coincidentally an article recently appeared in the Reading Post, with an old photograph of the pub. http://www.getreading.co.uk/community/s/2121462_getback_seaside_outing_from_the_brickmakers_arms. Accessed 25 October 2012.

(13)  Coley Gardeners’ Association minutes. D/EX 1820/2/1/2. (BRO)

(14)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 15 October 1956. R/AC1/3/121. (BRO)

(15)  I am grateful to Mabel Boyd, her staff at CIRDIC for spending some time talking to me about their allotment. http://www.cirdic.org.uk.

(16)  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.

(17)  Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

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World War II

Maiwand Lion in the Forbury Gardens, Reading

There is one astounding feature about Reading’s “Dig for Victory” campaign, the Parks Committee resolute refusal to allow the Forbury Gardens to be used in any way in the growing of food. Approaches from the Allotments and Small Holdings Committee were constantly rebuffed. The initial suggestion was for use as a demonstration allotment in 1940 (1), later to use some beds for salad and vegetables in 1941 (2), again to use part for a demonstration allotment in 1944 (3).

Demonstration allotments were allowed at Palmer Park, Prospect Park and John Rabson’s Recreation Ground. The individuals who were to cultivate the allotments were granted £5 for seeds and to occupy the allotment rent free for a year (4). The Parks Committee agreed the use of two acres of Prospect Park and four acres Palmer Park for allotments (5), although later it was reported that Palmer Park was not suitable (6). Other parks were also brought into use as allotments and this continued after the end of the war and serious consideration of the end of allotments in parks did not take place until 1948.

  No. of Plots No. of Tenants No. Untenanted Unsuitable
Gosbrook Road 111 109 2
Christchurch Road 63 63
Prospect Park 274 245 29(trees and air raid shelters)
Henley Road 92 85 3 4(trees)
TOTAL 540 502 3 35

Table 1: Allotments in Parks. Allotments and Small Holdings Committee minutes 19 April 1948 (7).

The Parks Committee wanted the parks back by 25 March 1949 (8), but it was not just a local matter for agreement within Reading Borough Council. The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries was considering the matter (9). While waiting for this, the committee agreed that:

(i) it would not grant any new tenancies on permanent allotments, (ii) that these plots would be let to park allotment tenants, (iii) as these allotments were released the land would be returned to park, and

(iv) vacant park plots would not be relet (10).

Prospect Park allotment tenants were given notice ending on 30 September 1949, and protested to the Council (11). The return to parkland was completed with an agreed cost of £779 for re-instatement of grassland (12).

The use of Prospect Park had not passed unchallenged, Reading Allotment Society Ltd protested to the Allotments and Small Holdings Committee that they disapproved when there were vacancies on Norcot Allotments which they managed (13).

Aside from the use of parks as allotments many other provisions were put in place to increase food growing. This was from a starting point of pre-war unfulfilled demand for allotments. Reading had embarked on planned building programmes in Coley Park and Whitley which conflicted with the needs of allotment provision in terms of space and also in relation to the value of the land that they might be trying to acquire. At one point, the Finance and General Purposes Committee was to be asked if it would consider the purchase of land at Coley at building land price (14).

War preparations were in hand before the declaration of war on Germany on 3 September 1939. The Town Clerk reported to the May meeting under the heading, “AIR-RAID PRECAUTIONS ACCELERATION OF CIVIL DEFENCE MEASURES” (15). In July they dealt with the organization of committee meetings “…DURING THE PRESENT WAR”. The same meeting agreed to insert an advert in the local press making the public aware of, “….the importance of food production and the fact that application for plots can be made to the Council’s Land Agent and the Reading Allotment Society Limited.”(16).

The first Committee meeting of the war was 2 October. There is a heading in the minutes “WAR TIME FOOD PRODUCTION IN ALLOTMENTS AND PRIVATE GARDENS”. Under this item, the Town Clerk submitted communications from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries which included the “Cultivation of Lands (Allotments) Order 1939”. This empowered the council to take over land and encourage the production of food on allotments and in private gardens by setting up a Horticulture Committee (17). Over the war years, the Horticulture Sub-Committee reported regularly on in its progress. A Horticultural Adviser, Mr Cobb was appointed, having offered his services. He had been a senior lecturer at Reading University (18). Under a year later, Mr Cobb moved on and was replaced by a panel of advisors (19).

A multitude of organisations at a local, Berkshire County Council and national level are mentioned in war-time minutes and the local press including:

  • Berkshire County War Agricultural Executive Committee
  • Home Food Production Corps
  • Urban Co-operative Cultivation Clubs
  • Reading Horticultural Traders Wartime Committee
  • Federated Horticultural and Allotment Association of Reading (20)
  • National Allotments Society Limited (21)

The Federated Horticultural and Allotment Association of Reading was founded as part of the “Dig for Victory” campaign. The first meeting was 30 October 1940 with the Mayor Councillor McIlroy as Chairman (22). The Association organised the first Victory Garden Show in September 1941 at the Market Hall in the Cattle Market. Produce was sold in aid of the Red Cross and St John Fund (23). Shows continued annually throughout the war and after the war ultimately became the Reading Show.

Participation in the Home Food Production Corp was possible by joining a local horticultural or allotment association (24). East Reading Horticultural Association was formed in 1941 in response to the campaign. A meeting had been held addressed by Professor Nicholson (Convener of the Horticultural Advisory Panel) (25) and this led a week later to the first committee meeting. Allotment representatives were appointed for:

  • Wokingham Road, Holmes Road, Anderson Avenue
  • Dixon’s Meadow
  • Bulmershe
  • Shepherd’s Hill

But were still required for King’s Road and Culver Lane Allotments. (26)

East Reading Allotment Association featured in Berkshire Chronicle demonstrating the spraying of potatoes against blight at Dixon’s Field Allotments in July that year (27).

The engagement of the public during World War II, in initiatives such as “Dig for Victory” and exhortations to participate are documented in the Berkshire Chronicle, in notices, adverts, photographs, reports and letters.

There were special weeks such as a “Dig for Victory” Week, with a public meeting at the Olympia led by Maurice Healy K.C. A BBC broadcaster in the early war years (28), he was one of the many celebrities who visited Reading to address meetings and open horticultural shows and exhibitions (29).

Previously the Olympia on London Street

There were two “Dig for Victory” exhibitions at Reading Museum and Art Gallery in 1940. The curator reported, “A great deal of preparation and upkeep were embodied in the “Dig for Victory”. You will see that we have co-operated with the local branch of the Ministry of Information and are continuing to do so.” (30). The Allotments and Small Holdings Committee recorded their thanks in May 1940 (31). Later exhibitions included, in April 1942, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Food Production Exhibition. This was opened by Commander A.B. Campbell, something of a national celebrity for his radio appearances on the Brains Trust (32). He spoke, praising the work of the merchant navy and was quoted, “We must give them more space by digging for victory.”. He repeated this message at a public meeting at the University and commented on Reading as follows, “….famous for horticulture, was in an ideal position for the growing of food stuffs. Residents had every opportunity to obtain expert advice. Ladies as well as men could play their part in the “Dig for Victory” campaign.”(33). Berkshire Chronicle carried a short piece each week by Roy Hay (34). He visited the exhibition and the Chronicle reported his opinion under the headings, “READING GARDENING EXHIBITION, “DIGGING FOR DEAR LIFE””, “It was not so much a question now of digging for victory; it was a case of digging for dear life.”. He had noticed that there were too many well-kept lawns at a time when the food situation was growing more serious (35).

Later in the same year, in September 1942, a letter from the Chairman of the Allotments Committee was published, exhorting the public to apply for allotments. His appeal was to able men and women, but, “…also our “teens” boys and girls.”. The timing of the letter was to allow the ground to be prepared before the frosts (36).

A school “Dig for Victory” poster competition was organised in 1941, with prizes of 10s 0d, 7s 6d and 5s 0d (50p, 37 1/2p, 25p) (37). In the event, the entries were so good that eight consolation prizes of 2s 6d (22 1/2p) were awarded (38).

The 1943 Victory Show, which took place at the Promenade, was addressed by C.H.Middleton, the BBC broadcaster most associated with “Dig for Victory” (39). He also presented the Corporation Challenge Cup won by East Reading Horticultural Association for a display of vegetables and the Federation Challenge trophy to Huntley & Palmers’ Allotments Association for a display of garden and allotment produce. He had nice things to say about Reading gardeners, “Reading was “the cradle of good gardening”, and concluded with the slogan “Sow, grow, hoe, show, crow!” (40)

C.H.Middleton Gate at the BBC Written Archives in Caversham

In parallel with the need to grow food was the need to preserve food, especially fruit in jam. In 1940, under the heading “Sugar for Jam”, notice was given of the need to register by 20 April if sugar was required for jam. Sugar was only available if the fruit had been grown on an allotment or in a garden (41). The next year an extra sugar ration of 2lbs (0.9kg) per person was allowed, provided that the sugar was used to preserve fruit. The Berkshire Chronicle went on to include a column in the same issue about how to preserve fruit (42). In August there was an advert from the Co-operative Preserve Works in Coley, that they would by all fresh fruit delivered in quantities over 7 lbs (3.2kg) and pay government controlled prices, cash on delivery (43).

The Women’s Institute took an important lead in fruit preservation and opened a centre to everyone whether they were members of the WI or not (44). The jam making that received the most press attention was the Fruit Preserving Centre that opened in McIlroy’s Department Store in 1942 (45). Later in the year there was a full report on a successful season (46).

Previously McIlroy’s Department Store

The need for food extended beyond the growing of vegetables, consequently restrictions on the keeping of pigs, hens or rabbits in gardens or on allotments were suspended in 1940. Readers were encouraged to consider their neighbours if they intended to keep these animals (47).

There were a plethora of horticultural shows. Some shows, run by allotment societies and local businesses had been taking place before the war but there were some new ones. The Victory Garden Show has already been mentioned. It was held at the Cattle Market, the Promenade and then at Huntley & Palmers’ Sports Ground on Kensington Avenue. Another new show was held under the auspices of Reading Trades Council, Reading Labour Party and Reading Co-operative Party. The first was held on 7 September 1940 (48). The 1944 show was attended by Ian Mikardo, the prospective Labour Party candidate for Reading (49). From 1941 the Reading Borough Special Constabulary held a Horticultural Show and Fete. In 1942 it was held at Cintra, (Suttons Recreation Ground) and had a full page in the Chronicle advertising the event (50).

It was during the second world war that several of Reading’s  allotments today were brought into use under council management:

  • Ardler Road
  • Caversham Court
  • Mockbeggar
  • Newcastle Road

Many sites were brought into use under the Cultivation of Lands Order by issuing notices of entry. The use of this land as allotments continued, subject to any other requirements such as housing until over ten years after the end of the war.

MAF was not in favour of the immediate release of land, stating in February 1946 as reported in the minutes, that permission would not be given to, “… release wartime allotments except in cases where land is urgently needed for a purpose such as housing, which can be shown to carry in the national interest an even greater priority, than food production….” (51). In 1947, MAF replaced the Dig for Victory campaign with Dig for Plenty (52). In November 1950, MAF informed the Council that temporary allotments could still be kept until 10 December 1951 (53). Year by year extensions continued until 1956, when MAF wrote saying that it would not be justifiable to hold land after the end of 1957 except in the most exceptional circumstances. By that time only two large sites remained at Elgar Road and Whitley Park Farm (54). The Council entered into a tenancy agreement with the University for Whitley Park Farm paying £31 10s 0d (£31.50) per annum, and with Co-operative Wholesale Service (CWS) paying £38 per annum. There was also a small piece of land (0.62 acres) adjoining Christchurch Meadow owned by the University for which they agreed to pay £4 per annum (55). The Elgar Road allotments were probably lost at the end of 1960 (56).

The date on which World War II on the allotments of Reading ended could be one of many. However the end of the Horticulture sub-committee at the end of the 1951/52 mayoral year would be a good date. The Horticultural Advisory Panel disbanded at the end of March 1946 (57). The MAF Dig for Plenty campaign had replaced Dig for Victory in 19447 (58). The Land Agent duties (apart from financial duties such as the collection of rents) and Horticultural Instructor duties were combined in the post of Horticultural Officer in 1947 (59). On 25 December 1947 the Land Agent, Charles Howlett who had served since the middle of World War I retired (60).

In another way, the war was over for Reading’s allotments before VE day on 8 May 1945. The minutes after VE day and VJ day on 15 August are strangely flat after the activity of the previous years. With some foresight the Horticultural sub-committee produced a report on “Post War Planning of Allotments” in October 1944. They reported in this that 45% of the holders of war-time allotments wanted to continue after the war. The report continued, “We feel, however, that some efforts should be made to provide enthusiasts with allotments within as reasonable a distance from their homes as possible, and that the only method is to divide the borough into four districts and provide allotment sites in each.” (61).

South Reading Allotment Holders’ Association held their first Show after the end of the War, at the John Rabson Playing Field in aid of the South Reading Welcome Home Fund (62).

Memorial to the Bombing of Reading Town Centre on 10 February 1943. A lattice window from St Laurence’s Church, in the churchyard.

References

 

(1)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 May 1940. R/AC1/3/74. (BRO)

(2)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 10 March 1941. R/AC1/3/77. (BRO)

(3)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 7 February 1944. R/AC1/3/86. (BRO)

(4)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 May 1940. R/AC1/3/74. (BRO)

(5)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 9 September 1940. R/AC1/3/74. (BRO)

(6)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 11 November 1940. R/AC1/3/77. (BRO)

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

(8)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 19 July 1948. R/AC1/3/98. (BRO)

(9)    Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 18 October 1948. R/AC1/3/98. (BRO)

(10)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 22 November 1948. R/AC1/3/98. (BRO)

(11)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 June 1949. R/AC1/3/103 (BRO). See also the chapter on Lower Southcote where some tenants were relocated.

(12)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 19 December 1949. R/AC1/3/103 (BRO)

(13)  Berkshire Chronicle 7 February 1941. Reading Library Local Studies Collection.

(14)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 17 April 1939. R/AC1/3/71. (BRO) See also the chapter on Coley Allotments.

(15)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 15 MAY 1939. R/AC1/3/71. (BRO)

(16)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 11 JULY 1939. R/AC1/3/71. (BRO) I have been unable to find any information about the Reading Allotment Society Limited, although it was undoubtedly an important organisation at this time, leasing allotment sites and letting them to tenants.

(17)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 2 October 1939. R/AC1/3/71. (BRO)

(18)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 2 October 1939. R/AC1/3/71. (BRO)

(19)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 19 February 1940. R/AC1/3/74. (BRO). Mr Cobb was appointed Head of the Horticultural Department at Seal-Hayne College in Devon. In the 20 December 1940 edition the Berkshire Chronicle reported on his death.

(20)  Federated Horticultural and Allotment Association of Reading. This organisation continued long after the war as Reading Horticultural Federation, organising the Reading Show until 198?

(21)  National Allotments Society Limited.

This was the predecessor of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Ltd, rebranded from 1 June 2012 as the “National Allotments Society”. For a brief history of this organisation see Lesley Acton, http://www.newsgrape.com/a/ZspcAFfkR4a5HBeh3mIVg/the-origins-of-the-national-society-of-allotment-and-leisure-gardeners, accessed 15 October 2012.

The organisation’s website is at http://www.nsalg.org.uk.

(22)  The History of the Federation of Horticultural & Allotment Associations of Reading now the Berkshire Horticultural Federation. Notes made by Bert Cowland (former President). D/EX/1613. (BRO).

(23)  Victory Garden Show Programme 27 September 1941. D/EX 1613/1/1.

(24)  Berkshire Chronicle 28 February 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(25)  East Reading Horticultural Association Minutes 8 January 1941. D/EX 1482/1/1. (BRO)

(26)  East Reading Horticultural Association Minutes 14 January 1941. D/EX 1482/1/1. (BRO)

(27)  Berkshire Chronicle 4 July 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(28)  Maurice Healy KC (1888-1943). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

(29)  Berkshire Chronicle 26 February 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(30)  County Borough of Reading Museum and Art Gallery. Curator’s Annual Report for 1940. (Reading Museum). The curator W.A. Smallcombe remarks in the report that ARP duties had absorbed the major part of his time. The Museum and Art Gallery had been open on 331 days compared with 304 in 1939.

(31)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 May 1940. R/AC1/3/74. (BRO)

(32)  Archibald Bruce Campbell (1881-1966). The Brains Trust was one of the most popular radio programmes during the War and ran from 1941-1961. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

(33)  Berkshire Chronicle 10 April 1942. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(34)  Robert Edwin Hay (Roy) (1910-1989). Horticulturalist, writer, radio broadcaster and founder (1964) of Britain in Bloom. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

(35)  Berkshire Chronicle 17 April 1942. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(36)  Berkshire Chronicle 2 April 1942. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(37)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 10 February 1941. R/AC1/3/77. (BRO)

(38)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 7 April 1941. R/AC1/3/77. (BRO)

(39)  Cecil Henry Middleton (1886-1945). Broadcaster on gardening from 1931. He was the first television gardener with a gardener with a garden created in 1937 at Alexandra Palace. Among the books he wrote was “Digging for Victory” 1942. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. See also http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/r/recording-britain-collection. The first radio broadcast 9 May 1931. accessed 28 October 2012.

(40)  Berkshire Chronicle 17 September 1943. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(41)  Berkshire Chronicle 5 April 1940. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(42)  Berkshire Chronicle 18 July 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(43)  Berkshire Chronicle 8 August 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(44)  Berkshire Chronicle 2 May 1941. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(45)  Berkshire Chronicle 26 June 1942. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(46)  Berkshire Chronicle 23 October 1942. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(47)  Berkshire Chronicle 21 June 1940. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(48)  Reading Citizen Mid-September 1940. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(49)  Berkshire Chronicle 8 September 1944. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection. Ian Mikardo (1908-1993) was elected MP for Reading in 1945.

(50)  Berkshire Chronicle 3 July 1942. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(51)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 11 March 1946. R/AC1/3/92. (BRO)

(52)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 March 1947. R/AC1/3/95. (BRO)

(53)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 November 1950. R/AC1/3/106. (BRO)

(54)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 February 1956. R/AC1/3/119. (BRO)

(55)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 6 May 1957. R/AC1/3/121. (BRO)

(56)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 18 July 1960. R/AC1/3/129. (BRO). The minutes record that CWS wanted the land back on 11 October 1960.

(57)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 11 February 1946. R/AC1/3/92. (BRO)

(58)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 January 1947. R/AC1/3/95. (BRO)

(59)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 20 October 1947. R/AC1/3/95. (BRO).

(60)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 15 December 1947. R/AC1/3/98. (BRO)

(61)  Allotments and Small Holdings committee minutes 13 November 1944. R/AC1/3/89. (BRO)

(62)  Berkshire Chronicle 31 August 1945. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

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Remembering Joan.

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