It takes a major catastrophe to make people dig for food – Signs of an Affluent Society

1964 Season 

The Greenwoods Close site was required by the Council to accommodate a large firm in the area and an Extraordinary General Meeting was held 7th Jan regarding the future of the site and a decision was made to make the land available to the Council.  Present were 52 Members.

The Chairman opened the meeting by saying that the object was to resolve the future of the Greenwoods Close Site following discussions at the Allotments Sub-Committee composing members of the Association and Town Councillors.

The secretary informed the meeting of events which had culminated in the convening of an Allotments Sub-Committee Meeting. Association representatives at the meeting had been advised that the Council wished to purchase the Greenwoods Close Site to satisfy the need of Messrs Purnell, Ltd for land for factory development, the firm having made it known that if land was not forthcoming they would have no alternative but to move out of the area. If the Association agreed to sell, the Council would purchase in the near future and as the land would not be required for approximately five years the Council would arrange to lease it to the Association for this period.  Alternatively, other land had been offered, the most attractive being a tract at ‘Tices Meadow’ where five hundred housing units were to erected in the future. Under these circumstances the committee recommended that the Association offer the Greenwood Site for sale to the Aldershot Borough Council

The matter was then debated at length and sale was agreed.

The chairman Mr Beckett resigned in protest.

An article appeared in the Aldershot News on the 7th February 1964 entitled “It Takes A Major Catastrophe To Make People Dig For Food – Signs of an Affluent Society” quoted below in its entirety.

The days when the allotment played a substantial part in relieving the family green grocery budget have passed and today their cultivation as a pastime is proving so uneconomic that many plots have been abandoned.

With an affluent society basking in an age of motor cars, supermarkets and tin openers, the trend has accelerated over the years and the old wartime slogan “Dig for Victory” has been long forgotten.  The sorry plight of many allotments in North East Hants paints a typical picture.  Many have been swallowed up in recent years by industrial and residential development.

As ten allotment holders at Farnborough work out a Council notice in Sycamore Road on land required for a sewage works extension, comes the news that Aldershot and District Allotments Association Ltd has decided to sell a four acre site in the east of the borough for industrial development.

Town First

The secretary of the Association Mr Reginald G Havard, told a reporter that although the use of the site had greatly increased recently, the decision to sell had been taken because it was in the interests of the town. “The town comes before allotments. Otherwise we would not have sold” he said.

Farnborough Council possessed 340 allotments on 12 sites mainly in the Cove area. Of these 221 are rented.  Some sites are fully cultivated but on others only a very small percentage are being worked.

Said a Council official: “There seems to be a lack of interest in them and they are not used.  You have the old diehards and they are horticultural people.  The normal allotmenteering seems to be dying out”.

At Fleet the council has only nine plots but all these are under cultivation.  These are situated at the rear of the council offices in Reading Road North where a few years ago other plots became the site for old people’s homes.

A few miles away at Odiham lack of interest in allotment affairs has led to the local Allotments and Gardens Association being disbanded.  The membership had fallen in the a few years from more than 200 to less than 50 and for the past two years there have been no ordinary meetings.  A meeting to discuss the end of the Association was attended by only nine people.

The decision at Aldershot to sell the Greenwood Close allotment site comes close on the news that the Association has given the Council formal notice terminating its use at the end of the years of the allotments site in Moreland Road East – now worked on five plots.

It is understood the Greenwood Close site will be required for immediate development in about five years.  The Council will lease the site to the Association until such time as it is required.  In the meantime there will be negotiations for the provision of an alternative site at Tice’s Meadow.

Two things have led to the Association deciding to terminate its lease on the Moreland Road East site.  First is the nuisance which officials say is caused by children making a playground of the unfenced plots, and secondly, the general trend away from allotment cultivation.

The site originally offered about 60 plots but when the Council took some of the land a few years ago for the new crematorium only about 40 were left.  Of this number never more than 30 have been worked and today only five are in use. The majority of the plots have not been cultivated for some time and a great deal of work would be required before this land could be brought up to the standard of existing plots in Greenwood Close.

A Playground

Said Mr. Havard:  There has been a lack of interest on the part of people in the area coupled with the fact that those who were interested had to put up with it being used for a kiddies‘ playground. Over the past five years I have been pushing for adequate fencing but the Council have said they could not afford it.  The result is the area has been overrun.

At a recent meeting with a subcommittee of the Aldershot’s Parks Committee, members of the Association were led to understand that if they would agree to sell the site at Greenwood Close and retain the Moreland Road East site the Council would be urged to carry out work which would encourage allotment holde4rs to transfer to the site.  Mr Havard thought such a proposal was too late.

Speaking of a nation-wide disinterest in the cultivation of allotments Mr Havard said the affluent society, with cars and tin openers did not cater for the allotment movement.  “People don’t want allotments where there is affluence”. He said. “It needs a major catastrophe, industrial of war, to make people dig.”

“Have seen it happen so often.” Mr Havard went on “We find a chap moves here with his family but has no garden and wants a piece of land.  I fix him up and help him along and all of a sudden we notice the plot has deteriorated.  We make enquiries and fid the wife has started working and they have got a car.”

The Association has a number of other allotment sites in its charge.  One of the biggest is 106 plots on six acres bounded by Park Road, Coronation Road, Church Road and Lower Farnham Road.

Mr Havard told our reporter the Association had not land problem. It is not a case of too many people causing too few plots as it was when I first became secretary. We were always in trouble in not having enough land.

“The position in five years we can’t say. If present trends continue Park Road could well be enough for the whole town.

The Belle Vue Road site was leased from the Council rent free and this was rented gratis to a member who was responsible for the fencing.  The tenant had been told to quit by someone purporting to be the owner.

There was a discussion regarding the Secretary’s salary of £36 per annum, an increase to £50 was agreed.

At the 47th AGM, it was proposed that the annual dinner that was currently confined to officers and members of the committee should be open to the membership. It was resolved that the Committee would discuss at a later date.

A complaint that the boundary hedge on the Park Road site was in an awful state was noted.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close