The Aldershot & District Allotment Association

The Aldershot & District Allotment Association 

A Mr Sydney Danpure, a railway clerk aged 42 (1911 Census), published a letter in the Aldershot News on the 26th January 1917 proposing the formation of an association and on Tuesday 30th January, a meeting was held attended by some 15 people and the Association was formed. A Mr P. Care was elected chairman, pro tem and Mr S Danpure, hon. Secretary. The main considerations were:

1) The insecurity of tenure as it was possible that the Council would take the land back in 1918, and

2) The requirement for fencing.

The Agricultural Organisation Society, to which they should be affiliated, had certain powers which would enable them to obtain ground which they thought suitable for cultivation. As an Association, they could approach the landlords with a view to renting or leasing the allotments after the war thereby securing tenure of the land.

A public meeting was held on 20th February with some fifty people attending including 4 ladies.  The guest speaker was a Mr George Albert O’Dell who was the organising secretary of the Agricultural Organisation Society. He spoke of the benefits to the allotment holders of such an Association especially around the subject of security of tenure.  Members would be required to purchase a share in the new Association and an additional share for each plot taken up. The subject of working on the Sabbath arose and Mr O’Dell related a conversation with a vicar who had said “I would rather the men come here and dig their allotments than they should come to church and let me preach to them with empty stomachs”

The meeting was informed that anyone wishing to become members should apply to Mr S Danpure.

Mr George Albert O’Dell aged 47 lived at 100 Clarendon Road, Shirley, Southampton and was a Gas Syphon Examiner for the Gas Company (1911 Census), He was also a councillor for No 11 Shirley Ward and served on the Southampton council allotment committee.

The first General Meeting took place a week later on the 27th February 1917 and Mr Danpure reported that some 60 members had now joined. Committee members were elected (Chairman – Mr P. Care, Secretary – Mr Danpure) and as they were to be affiliated to the Agricultural Organisation Society, their rule book would be adopted.  A set of by-laws obtained from the Southampton Allotment Association, were read and accepted by the meeting as follows:-

  1. Throughout the regulations and by-laws the expression “the Committee” means those members who are elected at the annual meeting of members, and who are empowered to carry out the Regulations and by-laws.
  2. The committee shall have the sole right to manage the ground, and each tenant shall be bound by the decision of the committee
  3. No tenant shall be allowed to sublet, assign, or part with the whole or any part of his allotment without the sanction of the committee.
  4. The committee shall have the right to make special stipulations in regard to any tenancy. All cases of disputes between tenants shall be referred to the committee in writing, and the committee’s decision shall be final.
  5. All buildings for livestock must be sanctioned by the committee, and no building of any kind, fence, hedge, or trees (divisional or otherwise) shall be erected or planted without the consent of the committee. Fruit trees may be planted but not to overhang the path.
  6. No growing timber shall be removed without the consent of the committee. Any tenant breaking this by-law shall forthwith forfeit his allotment, and shall also pay to the Association such money as shall be charged by the owners.
  7. The whole allotment shall be cultivated by the spade and fork; regularly kept in crop; well manured and free from all weeds at all seasons of the year. No tenant shall be allowed to place refuse on the footpath or roadway, but shall burn the same on his own allotment. Each tenant must trim his own footpath, the same to be not less than 12 inches wide. The marker shall be kept fixed in its place at the end thereof.
  8. No dogs to be allowed on the allotments except under proper control.
  9. The committee shall have the power to expel without notice and without compensation any allotment holder convicted of theft from any allotment or wilful injury thereto, and dispose of his cropping, and after deducting any expenses and liabilities, pay over to him the residue of same; and any allotment holder having knowledge of the same shall be prepared to give evidence if called upon to do so.
  10. Every tenant giving up his allotment shall remove all buildings, trees, growing crops, if required to do so, within fourteen days of the expiration of his tenancy. If this by-law is not complied with, the Association may remove the same, and charge the expense to the tenant quitting, for any damage done.
  11. Every holder or tenant shall be responsible for any damage done by anyone accompanying them, and shall have the right to refuse admission to any person other than a member of the Association.
  12. Every tenant during his term of tenancy will be required to conform to and observe the foregoing conditions.

Author – Interestingly, the 2010 version of our own Bylaws still included the majority of these Bylaws.

Amongst the other items discussed was a proposal to ask the Council if the committee could be represented on the Council Allotment Committee.

Mrs E. W. Alexander, of Aldershot Manor who had been elected as President, made an offer of a meadow to the Association for the duration of the war for the benefit of those earning low wages. 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.

The Association was formally registered on 1st March 1917 and were affiliated to The Agricultural Organisation Society, Queen Anne’s Chambers, Tothill Street, Westminster, London, SW.

The Association’s registered office was described as – No 4, The Roses, St Georges Road, Aldershot. Was this Mr S Danpure’s private address?


Figure 3 – The Seal of the Aldershot & District Allotments Association

On March 6th, Aldershot News and Sheldrake Military Gazette published a letter from Mr Danpure inviting applications for membership and allotments.

The idea of growing your own food seems to have concentrated the minds of the population, articles about gardening and growing food started to appear in the local papers, several series of articles entitled ‘Notes For Allotment Holders’, ‘Advice For Allotment Holders’ and ‘Allotment Cultivation – an experts view’ amongst others appeared throughout 1917 and 1918 to assist the new allotment holders. Some articles were complete with fascinating drawings and sketches to assist understanding.

In April, a journalist for the Sheldrake Military Gazette went on a trip around Aldershot inspecting the allotments and published his findings. He was amazed at the number of people both civilian and military and children at work on their plots even during Good Friday and Easter Sunday when one would expect them to be at church.

The Council busied their selves arranging the purchase of potatoes intended to be the main crop to be grown to justify having an allotment. Plot holders had requested some 71/2 tons of potatoes to date.  A source of wire was also sought for use as fencing around the allotments.

The military camp stables provided supplies of manure at some 2s per load and Mr Danpure published a letter on 20th April asking members to let him know their requirements for manure so that this could be organised.

The Aldershot District Council discussed a letter from Mr Danpure requesting that some members of the Association be co-opted onto the Allotment Committee. Our Rule book was requested before the council would allow this and in the event, Mr Danpure alone was invited to do so.  Mr Danpure also asked for a list of names and address of the owners of the land taken over so that they could be contacted regarding leasing the land.

Many complaints regarding trespass on allotments had been received and the Press were asked to make a special appeal to pedestrians not to wander from the paths and by-roads.

The Aldershot Volunteer Fire Brigade held a fete in August at which the Association had stalls showing off their produce.  The winners of the plot competitions were awarded their prizes at this event.

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