Our local paper has a weekly From the Files feature and it's always interesting to see a snapshot of local life from 25, 50 and 100 years ago.
A Chippenham snippet from 1917 particularly caught my eye as it refers to the town's allotments:
"The Town Council are sparing no effort to provide allotments for all who require them. The total of applicants is about 120: of these 27 in the London Road district have already been provided with land and a portion of Harden's Farm has been secured for the remaining 27 applicants.
To meet the requirements of those in the Hawthorn and Tugela Road district, and those who had chosen land at the back of Marshfield Road, negotiations are practically completed for a portion of the arable land of Cocklebury Farm and Miss Dickson has consented to give her pasture field behind Hawthorn Road."
This has set up all kinds of questions in my brain...
- Were these the first allotments in Chippenham?
- Who cultivated them? Who was Miss Dickson?
- What and how did they grow? How does that differ to today?
- Was the demand due to the food shortages of WW1?*
- Which of the named sites actually happened, are they still there? The London Road site referred to might be Crickett's Lane? The Cocklebury Farm site might be Deansway? There's no allotment site near Hawthorn Road today
- Where does my allotment site fit into the story?
- What's the current waiting list like? Answer: 40
- What are Harden's and Cocklebury Farms like today?
- Where does Chippenham's allotment story fit with England's first allotment site at nearby Great Somerford?
- And more... there is a whole rabbit hole of possibilities
I feel a trip to our local history centre coming on...
* = which ties in neatly with a book I'm reading which Happy Mouffetard kindly sent me recently: How the Pershore plum won the Great War which details the social history of one community in Worcestershire during WW1. You can read her review here. NB it wasn't just WWII where rationing was introduced, it also happened in 1918.
|Looking forward to much more of this to come later this year as I start my Flowers for Mum project|