Monthly Archives: December 2012

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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Meadway

 

Meadway Gate

Meadway is well tended and managed, hardly a hair out of place. It is an almost perfect allotment site surrounded by flats and houses.

On this site are some sheds that were built on many of the sites; minutes of post war council meetings are littered with this kind of “modern” improvement although they do not always survive (1). It was also the sort of improvement that the Reading Horticultural Federation lobbied for after World War II and set out in its monthly newsletter “Garden Topics” (2).

Sheds at Meadway Allotments

The cost of a shed was proposed in 1949 as £1 15s 4d (£1.76), reduced after consultation with Reading Horticultural Federation to £1 (3).

In the EDITORIAL of the July 1949 issue of Garden Topics:

“At this juncture it would be well to state how we desire permanent allotments laid out. We want wide roads, properly surfaced, giving access to all parts of the ground. Along these roads ornamental fruit trees should be planted. Water should be readily and easily available for each plot-holder. Huts each built on the same plan, arranged in groups to harmonise with the landscape should be provided to be let at reasonable rentals. There should be plots of five poles and ten poles, so that a holder could have ten poles for vegetables and five for fruit if he so desired.

These amenities would set a standard which would encourage good gardening. They would change allotments into gardens and as such would be enjoyed not only by the gardener but by his wife and family.

Such gardens would be a delight and would redound to the credit of the town.” (4)

Well tended

A new post-war vision of the future of allotments would play out at a local and national level through to the seventies following the production of the Thorpe Report in 1969 (5).

Meadway Allotments first appear on maps in 1961.

Central path at Meadway

FACT PANEL

No. of plots: (6) 29
Full plot equivalent: (6) 16.5
Date allotments established: pre-1961
Date taken on by Council: pre-1961
Previous use: Openland / farmland
Status: (7) Temporary

References

(1)    For example there was discussion of providing a standard type of shed in September 1949. Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 19 September 1949. R/AC1/3/103. (BRO). They were to be erected at Lower Southcote. Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 17 October 1949. R/AC1/3/103. (BRO).

(2)    Garden Topics. July 1949. Reading Library, Local Studies Collection.

(3)    21 November 1949, Minutes of Allotments and Small Holdings Committee. R/AC1/3/103. (BRO)

(4)    November 1949, Garden Topics. Reading Horticultural Federation. Reading Library Local Studies Collection.

(5)    Departmental Committee of Inquiry into Allotments. Report dated October 1969, often referred to as the Thorpe Report.

(6)    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.

(7)    Reading Borough Council 2005 Allotment Plan.

© Evelyn Williams 2012

PDF version: 28 Meadway

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