Richard Green has compiled an extensive history of the Association copies of which are located in the stores along with copies of past minutes for all to peruse.
Helen Williams has compiled an abridged version which is included here. Enjoy.
BRIEF HISTORY OF ALDERSHOT AND DISTRICT ALLOTMENT ASSOCIATION
Due to World War 1 the government issued a ‘Cultivation of land order’ which gave local authorities powers to commander unoccupied land in their districts for use as allotments. This was designed to encourage people to produce food for themselves as enemy action was limiting the import of foodstuffs . Any land so commandeered would be returned to its owner after the war or if it was required for building purposes. The Aldershot District Council set up a special allotment committee which was charged with identifying all unoccupied land in the district suitable for cultivation. The following dates show the sequence of events which led up to the formation of our Association.
20th Dec 1916 An invitation in the Sheldrake Military Gazette for people to express an interest in working an allotment. Applications to be in by 1st January later extended indefinitely.
19th Jan 1917 Allotment committee published regulations
26th Jan 1917 a Mr Sydney Danpure published letter in Aldershot News proposing the formation of an Association.
30th Jan 1917 15 people attended a meeting and an Association was formed with Mr P Care elected Chairman (pro tem) and Mr Danpure Hon Secretary. Main considerations were (a) insecurity of tenure and (b) requirement for fencing.
20th Feb 1917 Public meeting with some 50 members (including 4 ladies).
27th Feb 1917 1st General meeting held. 60 members joined. Committee formed with Mr Care Chairman and Mr Danpure as Secretary. Agreed to be affiliated to the Agricultural Organisation Society using their rule book. A set of By-laws obtained from the Southampton Allotment Association were accepted. NB the 2010 version of our by-laws still included the majority of these bylaws.
A Mrs EW Alexander had been elected as President. More about her later,
1st March 1917 The Aldershot and District Allotment Association formally registered.
1918 to 1923 By 1919 membership had grown to 335. The allotments were situated all over Aldershot eg East Station Rd, St Josephs Rd, The Crown Estate, Aldershot Manor, The Grange Paddock, Church Hill, Highfield Avenue, Bridge Rd, Hillside Rd. In 1920 concerns made that the land would be taken back to owners. Some allotment holders were given notice to quit by 31st March 1921 In fact in August 1921 the Ministry of Agriculture stated that land taken under the Cultivation of Land Order was to be given back to owners by March 1923.
1924 In January the Aldershot and District Allotment Association purchased land from a Miss Marion Kennedy. (The Kennedy family were an important Aldershot family with strong links to the army. I think the Army swimming baths were run by a Mr Kennedy and a daughter ran a swimming school for toddlers at the bottom of Manor Park. Now a play group) The conveyance dated 3rd Jan 1924 dealt with 2 lots of freehold one of which was ours within the site (7 acres and 34 perches). Miss Kennedy had previously purchased the land in 1897 from Councillor Richard Simmonds JP. She had sold off the land adjoining our site for housing ie Lower Farnham Rd and Coronation Rd. The footpath running alongside the Coronation Rd boundary is very old and I think is part of a route from Waverley Abbey to the tithe barn at Wanborough. It is possible that all these sites were originally part of Aldershot Place (now Aldershot Park) but a bit more research is needed. If anyone has any information as to what the land was used for prior to 1924 we would like to hear from you. There is a map of 1817 within the full history but it is difficult to see whether it was grass land or park.
There is some uncertainty about how the money to purchase the site was raised. I seem to remember someone saying that a loan was raised from the National Provincial Bank by a group of churchwardens. Certainly a mortgage taken out in January 1924 is recorded as being paid off in full to that bank by 1939. That may have been for the other site purchased at the time. The AGM of 1924 refers to donations from members for the purchase of what is our site. If anyone can throw light on this please let Richard, or one of the committee know. The ‘History’ is very much ‘a work in progress’ and any new information will be gratefully received.
There is a wealth of fascinating facts in Richard’s history including the names of past officers, maps of the various sites which were once managed by the Association, and some amusing anecdotes throughout the period. One important period was in 1987 when there was a threat of the site being sold to a company called Danetree Homes. Although a large sum of money was offered there was an overwhelming rejection at an EGM .
There are accounts of courting couples being evicted from the site. Perhaps later on people could think of more recent amusing activities going on.
Finally I would just like to mention 2 of the past Presidents of the Association. The first was a lady, a Mrs EW Alexander of ‘The Manor’, Aldershot. It seems surprising that at the time a woman was so closely involved with what must have been seen as a man’s occupation. After a little bit of ‘digging’ I discovered that she was Rose Newcome born about 1884. Her family owned The Manor just before it was sold to Aldershot Council for a park in 1919. She married Major General Ernest Alexander in 1903 at St Michaels. He was born about 1871. The 1891 census lists the family Newcome at the Manor with Rose as a 7 year old daughter. In 1911 they were living in Ireland, Ballincollig. He had a distinguished army career getting the VC for his bravery at the battle of Mons. I guess this is why she was a local dignitary and concerned with the war effort. The Manor itself was built in 1670 by the Sir Walter Tichborne family. It was bought by a Captain Newcome in 1847. The Tichbornes originally lived in Aldershot Park apparently.
I’ve got all this from the references given in Richard’s History . and from a British History link on the internet. There is a photo of the Newcome family in the Hale History Archive. Finally I would like to mention Ted Higgins who was our President from 1999 to 2011. The longer standing plot holders knew Ted . His plots were always kept in immaculate condition. He consistently won the annual competition for the best allotment no less than 14 times in succession from 1978 to 1991. In 1982 his excellence was highlighted by winning the Federation of Hampshire Horticultural Societies Cup. This is awarded to the best allotment in Hampshire and to date he is the only person in our Association to have been awarded this trophy. On the wider front he was awarded the BEM in 1982 for his services in the Aldershot Fire Brigade. These included assisting at the bombing of the Aldershot garrison by the IRA in 1972. Sadly Ted died in 2012 but we are fortunate in maintaining contact with Maureen. The Ted Higgins cup was provided by his family and is awarded annually in the produce competition for the best plate of vegetables submitted.
This is only a brief resume of what is described in the History. Please feel free to browse the copies located in the store.