During World War II, allotments were in great demand and by 1945 there were around 1.4 million allotments in Great Britain. In the 1930s the UK imported over 70% of its food and the threat from German U-Boats on food imports encouraged the government to create a campaign to help feed the country.
The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was launched in October 1939 and set out to empower people to grow their own food.
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.
Here are a series of Maps of Ealing Dean from 1741 to 1865. The earlier maps show Ealing Dean Common and after 1832 they show the Parish Allotments which are were know as Ealing Dean Common allotments, then later Ealing Dean Allotments and more commonly these days Northfileds Allotments.
Just as the EDAS committee is tackling management and maintenance problems on the allotments today, the committee set up in 1833 had to grapple with the issues of its day, gradually finding its way as it learned from experience. Fortunately, our committee does not have to deal with rent collection, the most pressing concern for our predecessors. But there is a clear parallel in getting to grip with letting the vacant plots. And do you have one of the "gravelly pieces"?
In 1858, fifty allotment tenants signed a petition requesting that they be allowed to work on Sunday morning, before 8 a.m. The Bishop of London, when agreeing to allow the allotments on Ealing Dean Common, made it a condition that no-one should work on the Lord's day. This left the plotholders little time to tend their plots after their work in the week.
There is no photographic evidence from the 1830's when the allotment was first created. The 1832 map of Ealing Dean Common shows what is believed to be a series of drainage ditches between the road and the common (which would become the allotments). It is likely that a wooden fence created the boundary around the allotments although we have found no written evidence to support this at this time. There is a mention of the "ditch" in a letter written around 1860's. This letter refers to the ditch as unsafe.
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.
Have you ever wondered what Ealing looked like a hundred years ago. Well there are plenty of photos around that show you what is was like but i came across a video the other day of Ealing Broadway in 1901, a video, well a film more than video. It is not a long film but the quality is good and it really so much more than a still photo. The awnings in the front of the shop blowing in the breeze, the horse and cart, children running in front the tram.
Prior to 1832, the land where the current allotments are situated, was known as Ealing Dean Common. The Common was also known as ‘Jackass Common’ as pony races were held there in June. See this poster for a racing event in 1818. This Common included the current allotment site and an area of land west of Northfield Avenue that was also allotments until the 1980s. The Common stretched up to the Uxbridge Road and included the area which is now Dean Gardens public park.