Newcastle Road allotments are a real gem. Unlike many allotments, they are not hidden away next to a railway line, river or surrounded by houses. They are right there on Newcastle Road for all to see. The No 5 bus even makes a detour so that they can be truly appreciated by bus passengers.
To the north lies Cintra Park (1). Newcastle Road was unmarked on the 1911 OS Map and may have been part of an area shown as allotments. Warwick Road was already built on and there were houses along Northumberland Avenue. By 1926 the landscape has changed and Newcastle Road is marked on plans included with the estate catalogue for the sale of Whitley Park Estate by members of the Palmer family (2).
An area of land on Newcastle Road was offered as allotments by the Highways Committee in 1943, and this may be the current site (3). Thereafter, the allotments keep a fairly low profile with nothing significant appearing in committee minutes. Mysteriously, the allotments are not shown on the 1957 OS Map, when they probably would have existed. In 1965 the Borough Surveyor was to look at the possibility of three allotment sites being turned from temporary to statutory allotments. Newcastle Road, with an area of 1.67 acres was one of those (4).
Here I found one of the best examples of raised beds that I saw in any of Reading’s allotments.
If you do take the No 5 bus to Newcastle Road allotments, sit on the top deck at the front and as the bus almost appears to plummet down Northumberland Avenue look out across the view before you, and imagine the scene when most was allotments and farmland. Newcastle Road and Goddard’s Farm allotments further south on Hartland Road, being (almost) all that remains (5).
|No. of plots: (6)||41|
|Full plot equivalent: (6)||23.2|
|Date allotments established:||1943 or earlier|
|Date taken on by Council:||1943|
|Previous use:||openland / farmland / allotments|
(1) see Chapter – 3 B’s and Allotments.
(2) Whitley Park Estate Catalogue 1926. Reading Library, local studies collection. The sale includes areas let as allotments on both sides of what would become Hexham Road.
(3) Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 8 March 1943. R/AC1/3/83. (BRO)
(4) Allotments and Smallholdings committee minutes 15 November 1965. R/AC1/3/139. (BRO). The other two sites were Southcote and Oakley Road.
(5) see Chapter – Goddard’s Farm. Some community gardens have recently been established.
(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: 24 Newcastle Road