Allotments and VE Day 2020
There have been allotments of one sort or another for hundreds of years, but the system that we now think of as allotments developed in the 19 th century as a means of allowing the poor to grow their own food.
The Ordnance Survey map of 1881 shows the land where Molewood Road and Wellington Street are now, were then used as allotment gardens. By 1897, the allotments had disappeared as the land was built on.
At the end of the First World War, land was made available for allotments as a means of helping returning service men. The Allotments Act, 1925, which is still in force today, gave allotment holders certain rights and prevented local authorities from selling allotment land, except in certain circumstances.
Dig for Victory
With the coming of the Second World War, there was again pressure for local authorities to provide allotments. The Cultivation of Lands (Allotments) Order, 1939 gave local authorities the power to provide land for allotments with the object of increasing food supplies of the country. This was part of the Government’s “Grow More Food” campaign, probably better known as “Dig for Victory”.
Over the next couple of years, the Borough Council provided a number of
allotments sites that are still in existence today, including West Street, Hertingfordbury and Cromwell Road. The existing North Road Allotment site was established in 1941. There was also an allotment site where Sandy Close is now.
By April 1941, the Hertford Borough Council had provided over 1,000 allotment sites in the Borough. Bearing in mind that the population of the Borough at that time was less than 14,000, the take up was high. After the War, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries encouraged local authorities to make the temporary allotments permanent and land previously leased was purchased to make permanent allotments. Allotments were an important source of food during the war, particularly bearing in mind that rationing was in force. The amount of the weekly ration is shown below:
There was plenty of advice available on what and how to grow:
There was plenty of advice on how to cook under rationing:
Allotments provided an important means of supplementing peoples’ diets in
addition to the food available under rationing. Apart from helping to reduce hunger, the vegetables grown on allotments provided vitamins and nutrients that would be missing from the basic ration. This helped reduce diseases such as rickets, which were otherwise prevalent at the time. The exercise also helped people to maintain a healthier lifestyle, which, it has been suggested, meant that people in wartime Britain were probably healthier than many are today.