Well, Well, Well Madness!
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.”
You know sometimes you just like something, and you don’t have to have a good reason why . . . Steelydan comes to mind.
Well Allotment pumps is like that for me. I started the Allotment pump project a month or so ago and i have now completed the installation of two pumps. This is good timing because we have no mains water at this time so it gives us a chance to feel how it was in the days gone by on the allotment when they had no mains water. We have only had mains water for the last 20 years or so for the previous 160 years they had to find water from other sources, the ponds, watercourse and wells.
I will give full details on each Pump installation but this is just a post for you all to know that you can get water from two pumps well actually three.
First of all i would like to let you know about today’s ‘Well Madness’.
The well on plot 213 is a part of the pump project. This well was full of rubbish, polystyrene cups, carpet, plastic bottles, big plastic drum i could go on. After doing and absolutely amazing job of getting all the rubbish out with Paul McConnell on Thursday today i drained the well to see what was left in case there was some plastic that would get pulled into the pipework. Have i mentioned the frogs? . . . ok later. I found there was more rubbish at the bottom and tried unsuccessfully to get it out, to my luck Dec and Bimba turned up by chance and decided to go down the well to get the stuff out including a frog. It was a little tight and Dec couldn’t move properly so we got his girlfriend Bimba to go down, i was scared for myself just watching! she went down but she couldn’t move cos the ladder was a bit big so we took the ladder out, yeah she was down a three metre well with water flowing in the bottom with no ladder, she found the frog and put it in her pocket and continued to remove wood and soil from the base. Bottom of the well pictured right.
Some people can talk a good game but only a few can act as good as they talk and Dec and Bimba proved today what real allotment folk are made of. When they turned up they were clean when they left they had clay mud in their hair on their clothes, everywhere. We did actually get four frogs out of the well in total, two today.
Below Dec, Bimba and a small frog that can live out its days in luxury in Dec's pond
By the way there are Pumps on plots 229, 213 and 164 that you can use to get water.
Pump 229 is the old boys pump which i got working today, This is a semi rotary pump so the action is "Back and forth and back and forth" its needs priming to work, this is done by pulling off the top of the plastic pipe and pouring water down as this pump is very old it can take a watering can of water to start it up. This is not officially on the Allotment pump project but something that was done last year. It’s old so treat it with respect and it will be good to you :)
Pump 213 is a newly completed pump. It may have dirty water for a while, this one should not need to be primed but if it does just pour water (from the glass bottle provided) down the little slot in the top until water comes out the spout then pump and it will bring up water in a few goes.
Pump 164 This is another semi rotary pump. It also needs priming, we are planning a new system for this after some good advice from another plot holder but for now you have to unscrew the plastic pipe (anti-clockwise) on the top (the whole thing) and pour water down the top until you see the it come out of the pump, screw the plastic top back on carefully avoiding cross threading (which has already happen and why we will change the system) then pump a few times to get it going then you will see the water coming out.