Tag Archives: Whitley

Newcastle Road

Newcastle Road – sign on the gate

 

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.

Newcastle Road allotments, Cintra Park behind the trees

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).

Grassy path and trees

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.

Beautiful raised beds

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).

FACT PANEL

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
Status: (7) Statutory

References

 (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

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Goddard’s Farm

The imposing gate to Goddard's Farm Allotments

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.

View across the site to the disused Trading Shed.

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 fig tree

A beautiful sunny day when I visited Goddard’s Farm showed off some of the more exotic produce to best advantage.

Artichokes seem to like the climate in Reading.

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.

FACT PANEL

No. of plots: (10) 62
Full plot equivalent: (11) 43.9
Date allotments established: 1930 – council purchase.
Date taken on by Council: 1930
Previous use: Farmland
Status: (12) Statutory

References:

(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.

PDF version here:

6 Goddards Farm

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