Allotment Pump Project Plot 213
London's oldest surviving allotment is facing the threat of being built on thanks to plans by its landlord to construct a new housing development on part of the allotment site.
We desperately need to raise funds to pay for legal and specialist advice to help save our much loved allotments.
If you can spare just a few pound we would be very grateful for your help and support.
In early September 2016 the charity, Pathways, contacted plotholders at Northfield Allotments in Ealing to announce its proposal to build on 10% of the allotments. The development would include a five to six story block of social housing and four houses for sale to help fund the development.
Northfield Allotments are the oldest allotments in London. They were given by the Bishop of London to the people of Ealing in 1832, and are held as a permanent endowment. The charity Pathways is our landlord and the site is managed by a committee of seven plotholders. There are 141 plots.
The plotholders are a diverse range of ages and nationalities. Twenty nine of our plotholders live in flats – this is their only garden. We have around 50 children who have a safe place to play and learn about fruit and veg and get a chance to see tadpoles, stag beetles, bats and hedgehogs.
There are more than 25 pensioners who have a place to grow their own food and there is always company, someone to talk to. You are never alone when you have an allotment. People are friendly here and we share seedlings and produce.
We have counted 27 different nationalities – the only qualification to getting a plot is a love of gardening and the patience to wait on our waiting list (currently 72 people).
The hedgerow around the site is around 900m long and has been designated, by Ealing Borough council, a SINC - Site of Interest for Nature Conservation. It is an important and safe habitat for our hedgehogs, many nesting birds and insects. The allotments are a habitat for stag beetles, which are endangered and protected. With perfect timing the many visitors to our Halloween open day saw our bats flying around the site catching night flying insects.
On the 25th September at a special general meeting, the plotholders unanimously voted to oppose Pathways’ plans to concrete over the allotments.
We understand that social housing is important – but so are green open spaces. It shouldn’t have to be a choice of one or the other. We believe Pathways’ trustees have not fully considered alternatives to their proposal to ‘temporarily’ move 18 residents into what will be a permanent development on the allotments.
We believe a permanent endowment should be permanent.
The original allotments were much larger than they are today: 60% of the allotments were lost in the 1970s due to compulsory purchase by the council and building by Pathways. Our concern is that if planning permission is granted this time around it will be easier to lose more allotment land in the future as the pressure for housing so close to a Crossrail station increases.
When we lose green space we never get it back.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Please write to your local councillors to let them know what you think of the proposal.
- Write to the Ealing Gazette and Ealing and Northfield forums.
- Sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with what is going on.
- We need specialist help, especially once the plans are submitted to Ealing Council. This will cost money. So, please help by donating whatever you can to our fighting fund.
Please help us protect the allotments for another 184 years.
Many thanks for all your help and support.
The Ealing Dean Allotment Society.
I’m going to leave the final word to Fran, one of our plotholders (who will lose her plot if the development goes ahead)…
“My allotment means a lot to me - we live in a third floor social housing flat with no access to a garden of our own. In 18 months my daughter and I have transformed the plot from weeds and brambles to our own little patch of heaven and my daughter has learned so much she never would have been able to before, from where our food comes from to the lifecycle of the frog - and she now wants to be a gardener when she grows up.”
This plot 213 has had a village style pump installed as a part of the Allotment pump project. The pump is now working and can be used by any plot holder as a water source. All water pumps need a brisk pumping action, a weak pushing of the handle will not be enough to maintain a good water flow.
The pump may need priming to get it to work. To prime the pump you need to pour water into it. There is a glass bottle by the water barrel, fill the bottle and pour the water into the top of the pump where there is a little slot. Once the water pours out of the spout then there is enough water in the cylinder. Pump briskly a few times then you should feel the pressure change from the suction of the water in the well. This pump does not always need priming, i would recommend trying the pump first and if it feels very light then there is no water in the cylinder and therefore you will need to follow the priming process.
Installation work on this pump started in April 2105.The first thing i did was remove the very heavy concrete slab on top of the plot. It was then that i discovered that the well was half full of rubbish. The image right show the top of the well with the metal barrel construction damaged or bend over on purpose. Once i looked down into the well i could see a roll of carpet, soil and plastic flower pots. I have a very long pole with a hook and cup on either end. I was joined by plot holder Paul McConnell and we "fished out" all the items we were able to see which was actually a great achievement with a butchers hook on a pole.
The rubbish that came out of the out of the well can be seen on the image right. It included Fairy liquid bottles, black plastic bags plastic flower pots. The well top edge was reconstructed with the metal bin that was found in the well and clay was used packed the metal bin to create a seal top.
The village style pump was installed on a concrete base with a 32mm plastic pipe inlet. The base was set to the side of the well top so that the cncrete top could be left in its origin al state. It is important to get the pump stand level to avoid the float getting mis-aligned.
The pump that was bought by nick the plot holder was reconditioned with new seals and rusted areas cleaned up. In the image right the base section was sealed with white mastic and the valve end was heavily rusted. The image far right had a new rubber seal and the valve edge re ground.
After the well was drained we removed more rubbish from the bottom of the well. Two plot holders agreed go go down the well and remove these items of wood and plastic flower pots. Dec and Bimba found a frog in the bottom of the well which they were able to save, we actually had got out three frogs in the well. The well is very tight and it needed a small person to be able to get the rubbish out. The image far right shows Dec and Bimba and a little frog the saved from the well!
Below: Nick the plot holder pumping water from the newly installed pump