Beginning in 1847, the Duke provided allotments and continues today. 1851 maps show several sites some now council run, the largest is Ratten Row with 72 plots the smallest has 13. War periods increased the uptake of sites for home grown vegetables, fruit and flowers, most have access to water and greenhouses proliferate.
From the middle of the 18th century the combination of enclosure, and rising population led to rural poverty. Various initiatives aimed to offer land to the poor so that they were better able to provide for themselves, but initiatives had little impact until the 1830s. Then fear of unrest as soldiers returned from the Napoleonic wars, bad harvests in 1829 and 1830, and growing poverty meant that support for allotments grew: particularly in the South and Midlands. By 1850 there was one allotment plot for every 320 people in England.
In Alnwick, 18th century maps had shown Crofts and Garths on each side of Clayport. Then in 1848, the Duke laid out more than 200 plots, providing one for every 36 people, or every six households in the town.
A visit to Alnwick by The Cottage Gardener in 1852 reported on three main allotment sites: the Clayport Allotment to the west of town; Leeks field (on Denwick Lane) to the east; and Ratten Row to the north. They also described allotments provided for pupils of the Duke’s School in Green Batt. Allotment holders were growing “mangold, swedes, potatoes, curled kale, carrots, onions, drumhead cabbage, and various little matters, as rhubarb, and such conveniences”.
Nationally, the pressure for more allotments abated as the economy improved in the 1850s and 1860s, but towards the end of the century interest re-awakened, partly under pressure from the National Farm Labourers’ Union. In Alnwick, by the 1870’s there were allotments off Dispensary Street and on Hope House Farm (later known as the Duntern Allotments).
The introduction of County Councils in 1888, and Urban and Rural Districts in 1894 brought changes in local government.
Legislative changes from 1882 to the first world war which required councils to ensure there were sufficient allotments. In particular the Small Holdings and Allotments Act of 1908 established a framework for the modern allotments system.
By the start of the First World War Alnwick had another allotment site off Wagonway Road, which later became St James Allotments. Between the wars the present site at St George’s Crescent was laid out.
By the end of the first war there were 1.5m allotments nationally. However, once hostilities ceased much of this was reclaimed for recreational use or housing, and it became more difficult to acquire land for allotments.
By 1939 the number of plots had reduced, despite efforts to promote cultivation of allotments by the unemployed during the recession of the 1920s and 1930s.
Following the outbreak of the Second World War, the government launched the Dig for Victory campaign to create 0.5m new allotments. By 1944 it was estimated that there were 1.75m plots across England and Wales. Again, once hostilities ceased, the number quickly fell back as temporary plots reverted to their original use.
Post-war demand for housing in Alnwick meant that the number of plots reduced by around a third. Allotment sites off Clayport, and Dispensary Street; and parts of the sites at Wagonway and the Dunterns were lost to new housing.
By 1965 the number of allotments nationally had halved, and the Ministry of Land and Resources set up a committee to investigate. The Thorpe Report was published in 1969, and recommended that each council should provide a minimum of 15 full size plots (10 poles each) per 1,000 households. However numbers continued to fall through the sixties.The decline in allotments slowed during the seventies but then regained pace, and has continued since. ( “The Good Life” was originally screened from 1975-78).
The number of allotment plots in Alnwick peaked around 370 between the two world wars. Today there are around 180 plots. This is the lowest number since 1850: less than half the number of allotments in Alnwick at the peak. In comparison, recent national data suggests that across England there is roughly one allotment for every 200 people (every 80 households). The provision of allotments in Northumberland is around twice, and in Alnwick roughly four times, as great as the national figure.
Cawledge View: Located at the rear of the Alnwick Cemetery just off the old Cornhill railway line, and originally part of the embankment. Managed by the Town Council since being transferred from the County in 2013. Cawledge View and St James Estate were built in 1995.
Clayport: Established by the Duke in 1849, with six acres. It appears on OS maps up to 1926 as “Allotment Gardens”, but replaced by the post-war housing of Barresdale (1947). The name lives on as Clayport Gardens.
Dispensary Street: Appears on OS maps up to 1948, behind the brewery. It does not appear in a list of Alnwick allotments of 1852, but is shown on the 1867 OS map as a garden with a fountain and 37 plots, averaging just over 1/10 acre. A new Slaughter House was built on part of the land in 1876, reducing the area from around 4.2 acres to 3.9 acres. Covered by Windsor Gardens (1953).
Duke’s School: Alnwick Library originally opened as a school in 1811. Unusually, small plots of garden were allotted to “meritorious scholars, to encourage industrial habits”… and … “by way of encouragement, prizes are given every year to those who can produce the best fruit and vegetables”. “it is truly delightful to witness the assiduity of the youths in trying to excel each other. Their plots are about four feet wide by nearly twenty long; and a two feet alley separates the contending parties”. This site appears as a garden in OS maps from 1867-1948, but is now overlayed by housing.
Hope House Farm / Dunterns: Established by the Duke in 1873. “The new allotment gardens on the south side of town have now been laid out by order of the Duke of Northumberland, in a field which forms part of Hope House Farm. A large part of the field has been devoted to the purpose, and the necessary preparations for rendering the plots of garden ground immediately available have been busily carried out for some time past” (Alnwick Mercury, 22 March 1873). Appears on 1897 OS maps with 47 plots. The Manse (now Summerhill) was constructed in 1874, effectively occupying one of the plots from the start. These allotments were initially referred to as being on Hope House Farm, but by 1912 they were referred to as the Dunterns Allotments. Some plots were lost to the construction of housing on the Dunterns (1939). The remainder are still managed by Northumberland Estates.
Leeks Field: Established in 1849 by the Duke, with around 8 acres (contemporary documents say 7 1⁄2 acres but measurement suggests it was over 8 acres even then). The OS Map from 1867 shows more than 80 plots, and it was shown on 1948 OS map as “Allotment gardens”. Remained in use until the construction of Alnwick Garden, when it partly disappeared under the coach park. No longer used as allotments.
Ratten Row: A site of around 7 acres, and 72 plots, which doesn’t appear to have changed in size since it was established by the Duke in 1849. It is now managed by the Town Council, under a short-term lease from Northumberland Estates.
St James’ / Wagonway: Located off Victoria Road, near to Willowburn. It has 46 plots. Acquired by Alnwick Town Council in 1974, and managed by the town council. There is no mention of this site in a report on Alnwick Allotments from 1852 and on the 1899 OS map the site is shown only as a field. The first mention we have found is on 13th July 1912, when it was referred to as one of the sites looked after by the Allotment Committee (along with Denwick Lane, Dunterns, Clayport and Dispensary Street). On the 1926 map it appears as “allotment gardens”. The 1948 OS map shows part of the allotment lost to what is now Augur Terrace (1946), but at the time was shown as proposed housing (to be named Sea View Terrace and Queen’s Rd).
St George’s: St George’s Crescent was built from 1922-4. The Town Council took this allotment over from Northumberland County Council in 2013. The site has 13 plots.
Rules and Regulations for the Allotment Gardens in the parish of Alnwick (1852)
- 1st The rent is 6s. 3d. for one-tenth of an acre; to be regularly paid.
- 2nd The tenant to be sober, industrious, and of good character.
- 3rd.The ground to be cultivated with the spade, and in no other manner; each tenant regularly manuring and cropping his allotment, observing to keep clean and in proper order the roads—their width to be two feet for ordinary paths, and three feet for the main roads.
- 4th Any tenant found destroying, trespassing, or otherwise injuring the property of another tenant, climbing over or damaging the fences, will forfeit his allotment.
- 5th The children of the tenants are not to be permitted to enter the allotments, unless under the charge of their parents, or other proper guardians, who will be held responsible for their conduct while there.
- 6th No tenant will be allowed to sub-let his allotment, or to barter his interest therein.
The above regulations will be strictly enforced.
N. B. Dogs are not allowed to be taken into the allotments.
Alnwick Market Gardens for Alnwick Map Project
Market Gardens were/are businesses not recreational gardens
Trade Directories quote an average of 8 Gardeners/Nurserymen between 1840-1940’s
They grew stock trees, fruit trees, seeds, potatoes and strawberries (from 1890’s Alnwick sent 6 ton of strawberries per day on the trains) Strawberries on the Moor were late cropping so benefitted as other areas were finishing. Planted tightly so “no inch of bare ground” provided shelter for the plants. Double digging gave 8 year cropping life. Hand picked from 3 30am, laid double in 3x2ft wooden tray and off to rail station destined for Newcastle. Still grown in 1954 then declining as older “Moorcocks” (inhabitants of Alnwick Moor) gave up, disease, competition elsewhere and station closing in 1968.
In Alnwick they include: – Clive Nurseries, Royal Oak Nurseries (once Grove Nurseries and last in town to close in 1975), Augur Flats Nursery, Spring Gardens (Blindwell Flats), Dove Cote Lane, Alnwick Moor (several families grew crops including strawberries), Blakelaw Cottage (had been Blackstone Cott and Tincott Hall) grew strawberries, Croft House (nurseries surrounded it), Allerburn Farm (smallholding) and Nursery Grounds (Belvedere Terrace).