Glimpses of the Past
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.”
Here are a few images that show glimpses of the allotments.
The first image (top left) shows hanger Hill Farm Diary that was occupied by Mr & Mrs C. Millard a Dairy Farmer. His wife worked in the diary which her husband Chas. millard was listed in the census as working "Out". To the right of the picture is the top of the allotments. A white gate can be seen at the top of what is now known as Radbourne Walk.
The second image (top right) shows Ealing Cottage Hospital in around 1905. This Hospital was not purpose built but houses owned by Samuel Minton. A group of local worthies led by the Rev JJ Summerhayes of St John’s Mattock Lane, promoted the idea of the hospital and bought the houses and opened the hospital around 1869. The hospital then outgrew the premises and moved to Mattock Lane in 1911 as the King Edward memorial Hospital where it remained until 1979. The Cottage hospital was demolished in 1912 and a Kinema built in its place. In the picture the allotments can be seen on the right behind the hourse and cart.
The third image (bottom left) show St. John's Church in 1893. The church built in 1876 by Edwin Henry Horne. According to church documents, in the late 19th century the church founded the local cottage hospital and St John's School, and in early years of the 20th century recorded regular congregations of more than 1000 at both morning and evening services. In this picture the allotments can be seen to the left. This area appears flat an avoid of any crops. There was a path known as "Church path" that ran across the allotments to the Uxbridge road.
The final image (bottom right) show Mattock Lane in winter in 1904. The building on the right was built by Henry Morton a Butchers clerk in c.1865 and is still standing in Mattock Lane. He bought the land from Mr. Hill after a contesting the land with the Allotment committee in the 1860's.
c 1910. Hanger Hill Farm Dairy on Mattock lane. Allotment on the right of the picture
c 1900. Ealing Cottage Hospital rebuilt as the Kinema. Allotment on the Right of the picture background.
1893 St John's church Allotment and Common far left. photo by J B Portway
1904 The house on the right was built by Mr Henry Morton a Butchers clerk in c.1865 and is still standing in Mattock Lane.