History - Did you know?

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.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/ealingdean

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.

OUR COMMUNITY

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).

OUR WILDLIFE

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.

NO CHOICE?

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.

OUR CONCERN

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.”


OLDEST LONDON ALLOTMENT - This is the oldest existing allotment in London. It was created as an allotment in November 1832. The first plot holders signed the tenancy agreement from 22nd March 1833 onwards. In around 1830 it is  believed by Dr. Burchardt, the historian that there were around 100 allotments in England.


EARLY APPEARANCE - In 1832 Northfields would have looked very different from today. There were very few houses around North field lane (as it was know) A lot of early plot holders came from Brentford. In 1800 the surrounding fields were all arable land which would have been used for growing crops, there were Meadow fields where Walpole park is now situated. There would have been a road side ditch that ran down Northfield Avenue culminating in a pond which was located where plot 146B is now. The image above is from 1894 but is very likely to be similar to how the allotment and surrounding area looked like in 1832.

PLOT SIZES - The original size of the plots were 20 poles. This is twice the size of an existing “Full” plot and believed to run the full width of the allotment therefore there was no centre path running up the allotment. This was a standard size for plots in the 1800’s. By 1910 the standard size had become a  ten pole plot.

ORIGINAL NAME - This allotment was originally known as Ealing Dean Common Allotments after the fact that it was previously a common. Local people had to sign a agreement to give up their right to use the land in the creation of the allotment deeds. The name was changed by Pathways to Northfield allotments in around 1992.

MAIN CROPS - The two most popular crops grown in allotments in the mid 1800’s were Potatoes followed by Wheat. It is believed that around half of allotment land was put down to potatoes, the remainder consisting mainly of wheat and barley.

EAST, WEST, NORTH SIDES – The allotment was originally larger and on both sides of Northfield Avenue. This side was known as the “East” side. While the area west of Northfield Avenue was known as the “West” and where Dean Gardens is now was known as the “North”. The Allotments to the west were compulsory purchased by Ealing Council in the mid 1970’s. The north section was accuired Ealing Local board as Pleasure gardens in 1910. Haslemere allotments were purchased and created to house plot holders who lost their plots to the Dean Gardens development.

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