Aldershot District Council
The first significant appearance of allotments in Aldershot was due to the Cultivation of Land Order published in December 1916 giving local councils powers to commandeer unoccupied land within their districts for use as allotments. Enemy action and the sinking of merchant shipping were making imported foodstuffs difficult to obtain. The Cultivation of Land Order was designed to encourage people to produce food for themselves and thereby the country.
Any land commandeered under the Cultivation of Land Order would be returned to its owner once the war was over or once the food supply became more reliable. The land would also revert to the owners if required for building purposes.
The Aldershot District Council immediately set up a special allotment committee (consisting of the Chairman E. A. Underwood, the Vice Chairman J. R Attﬁeld, Mr Richard Simmonds, Mr Harland and Mr Baker) and charged with identifying all the unoccupied land in the district suitable for cultivation as allotments together with recommendations for the area of land required.
The Clerk was instructed to give notice through the Press and the following item appeared in the Sheldrake Military Gazette dated 22nd December 1916.
PUBLIC NOTICES – ALDERSHOT URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL
CULTIVATION OF LAND FOR ALLOTMENTS
Notice is hereby given that the above Council under regulations made by the Board of Agriculture are empowered to take possession of unoccupied land for the purposes of providing allotments for cultivation.
The Council therefore invite applications from persons who desire allotments for such purposes.
Applicants should state the approximate quantity of land required and specify in what particular district of Aldershot they desire such allotments to be situate.
A rent, which may be of a nominal amount, will be charged by the Council.
No compensation, unless under very special circumstances, will be payable to the allotment holder vacating his allotment, but provision is made in the Regulations under which the period of occupation will be such as may be necessary for securing any annual crop growing at the end of the War.
Any further information required will be given by the undersigned, and applications for allotments should be received not later than first post Monday 1st January 1917.
Dated this 20th December 1916
- LLEWELLYN GRIFFITHS
Clerk to the Council, Municipal Buildings, Aldershot
By the 3rd January 1917, some 22 applications requiring 10-20 acres had been received.
The allotments committee recommended that the date for receiving applications for allotments be extended indefinitely. A list of land to be compulsorily taken over as allotments was produced as follows:-
Small paddock at the rear of the Grange owned by Mr W.T Robertson
Piece of land, Ash Road – owned by Mr. J. May.
Crown Estate – Church Lane – Mr. Fred Lloyd (agent).
Church Hill owned by Mr. Harrison,
Corner of St. Joseph’s and St. Michaels Road owned by Mr Rubick
St George’s and St. Michael’s owned by Mr Aylward
Hillside Road owned by Drivers Jonas and Co.
Sandford Road and Lower Cambridge Road, all plots available – Various Owners
Clock House ﬁeld
Council’s land, sewerage works, North Lane owned by Council.
The Clerk asked the Military Command if they could supply manure for allotment holders.
The allotment committee also recommended that the land be ploughed and after much, it was agreed that the land should left unploughed. It was suggested that back gardens be inspected and if not cultivated then an allotment would not be awarded.
This angered some residents and a letter by Mr E. Eldridge, of 20 Park Road; dated 6th January 1917 appeared in the Sheldrake Military Gazette complaining that the Council should act in the spirit of the Act which was intended to promote food production in a time of shortages. The Council should do what they could to assist with this aim and plough up the land. As to the inspection of back gardens, all potential plot holders must not allow the Council to do this. A letter from the Aldershot Branch of the National Union of Railwaymen was discussed in the week of the 23rd February along similar lines. Mr Edward Eldridge aged 49 was a book keeper according to the 1911 Census. At this point there had been 70 applications for allotments with some 27 plots marked out for allocation.
The Committee published the following regulations on the 19th January 1917:-
- Plots -The Council are prepared to let unoccupied plots to persons resident in Aldershot under the conditions stated herein
- Rent – The rate payable to the Council will be at the rate of 2s per annum for each plot of unoccupied land not exceeding 10 rods and 3d per rod per annum for each additional rod in excess of ten. The rent will be payable in advance.
- Fencing – The responsibility of protecting the plots from trespass or pilfering will rest with the cultivator, who must, therefore, provide any fencing he may deem advisable.
- Areas – The area of land allotted to each applicant will be ten rods or thereabouts but the Council may allot a larger area to any applicant
- Character of Crop – The tenant of each crop will be required to cultivate it for the growth of potatoes or other substantial foodstuffs. Provided the chief use of the ground is for the above mentioned crop, the cultivation of other crops will be permitted.
- Poultry, Rabbits, etc. – The keeping of poultry, rabbits, etc., will be permitted in combination with cultivation of the land, provided such poultry, rabbits, etc. are so kept so as not to cause a nuisance or annoyance to householders or the adjacent neighbourhood.
- Seed Potatoes – The Council will purchase suitable seed potatoes in bulk and supply them to cultivators of unoccupied land at a price sufficient only to recoup the actual cost of purchase, carriage, delivery, and other incidental expenses (if any).
- Tenure – The tenancy of the land will (subject to the provision below) extend for the period of the war and such time thereafter as, in the Council’s opinion may be necessary for the gathering of and growing crops. Provided that should the tenant in the Council’s opinion fail to make proper use of the land allotted to him or comply with these regulations, the Council may, after 14 days written notice to the tenant, and without the payment of any compensation to such tenant, take possession of the land and either themselves cultivate it or re-let it to another tenant.
- Compensation – Tenants will be entitled to no compensation on quitting except in the case of the tenancy of the allotment being terminated by the Council for other causes than those stated in Clause 8 prior to January 1st 1918, when compensation may be paid by the Board of Agriculture. The amount of such compensation will be as determined by agreement with the Council, or in default of agreement as determined by the Board of Agriculture to be just and reasonable
- In the event of land being required by the owner for immediate use for building or other exceptional purposes, the tenant thereof, on receipt of seven days’ notice from the Council, shall forthwith give up possession of the land and shall receive such compensation as the Council may determine to be equitable under the circumstances.
Several more letters were published on 26th January berating the Council for its attitude and the suitability of the land being scheduled. One from Mr Eldridge again and one from someone calling himself ‘SPUDS’ who included the statement “This wonderfully enlightened Council has decreed that the land known as the Crown Estate, situate, as you know, in Church Lane, and once bringing much money to its owners as a brick yard shall be at the disposal as garden plots to all who may desire it. They have so far progressed in their determination as to stake the land out, but, sir, it is all, or nearly all, under water or ice. The younger generation might float a miniature fleet upon the bosom of such a site, but it would at least take a year to drain and clean before an encouraging crop of potatoes could be secured.”