Friday, 10 June 2016

A shedload of sheds on the Ivygreen Allotments ........... or sheds Peter will paint .... nu 1 an introduction

Now never having been one to shy away from those bits of history which others regard as trivial, I have explored a range of street furniture which was once taken for granted but is now fast disappearing from our roads and highways.

Sheds of all sizes
It started with the water trough continued with the destruction of many of the traditional finger posts and now includes telephone boxes, street drain grids and old lamp posts.

That said those old cast iron ventilation shafts which vented the build up of dangerous gasses  in our Victorian sewers have survived as have the humble shed on the  municipal allotment.

And having spoken to Peter, who is interested in turning some of the sheds on the Ivygreen Allotments into paintings, I rather think it’s time for a new series.

Down on Halstead Avenue they come in all shapes and sizes.

There are big ones, small ones, ones which have come from garden centres and DIY stores and even one that is nearing its 90th birthday.

And here I have to own up to briefly renting an allotment.

It was directly opposite our two up two down on Raynham Street in Ashton and we took over the tenancy from our next door neighbour, but to my shame we did little with it and when we left the house we gave it up.

But we didn’t have a shed and perhaps if we had a shed maybe the story would have been different.

At the gates
According to the National Allotments Society, “allotments have been in existence for hundreds of years, with evidence pointing back to Anglo-Saxon times.

But the system we recognise today has its roots in the Nineteenth Century, when land was given over to the labouring poor for the provision of food growing.

This measure was desperately needed thanks to the rapid industrialisation of the country and the lack of a welfare state.

In 1908 the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, placing a duty on local authorities to provide sufficient allotments, according to demand.

Allotment Gardens in 1907
However it wasn’t until the end of the First World War that land was made available to all, primarily as a way of assisting returning service men (Land Settlement Facilities Act 1919) instead of just the labouring poor.

The rights of allotment holders in England and Wales were strengthened through the Allotments Acts of 1922, but the most important change can be found in the Allotments Act of 1925 which established statutory allotments which local authorities could not sell off or covert without Ministerial consent.”*

All of which fits with the story of those on Halstead Avenue which the  Ivygreen Allotments Society claim are about a hundred years old and certainly looking at the OS map for 1907 they are marked as Allotment Gardens.

Pictures; a shed and a gate from the collection of Peter Topping and the detail from the 1907 OS for Chorlton-cum-Hardy

*The National Allotments Society,

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