Chippenham's Allotment History

My allotment entrance gate

Our local paper has a weekly From the Files feature and it's always interesting to see a snapshot of local life from 25, 50 and 100 years ago.

A Chippenham snippet from 1917 particularly caught my eye as it refers to the town's allotments:

"The Town Council are sparing no effort to provide allotments for all who require them. The total of applicants is about 120: of these 27 in the London Road district have already been provided with land and a portion of Harden's Farm has been secured for the remaining 27 applicants.

To meet the requirements of those in the Hawthorn and Tugela Road district, and those who had chosen land at the back of Marshfield Road, negotiations are practically completed for a portion of the arable land of Cocklebury Farm and Miss Dickson has consented to give her pasture field behind Hawthorn Road."

This has set up all kinds of questions in my brain...

  • Were these the first allotments in Chippenham? 
  • Who cultivated them? Who was Miss Dickson?
  • What and how did they grow? How does that differ to today?
  • Was the demand due to the food shortages of WW1?*
  • Which of the named sites actually happened, are they still there? The London Road site referred to might be Crickett's Lane? The Cocklebury Farm site might be Deansway? There's no allotment site near Hawthorn Road today
  • Where does my allotment site fit into the story?
  • What's the current waiting list like? Answer: 40
  • What are Harden's and Cocklebury Farms like today? 
  • Where does Chippenham's allotment story fit with England's first allotment site at nearby Great Somerford?
  • And more... there is a whole rabbit hole of possibilities

I feel a trip to our local history centre coming on...

* = which ties in neatly with a book I'm reading which Happy Mouffetard kindly sent me recently: How the Pershore plum won the Great War which details the social history of one community in Worcestershire during WW1. You can read her review here. NB it wasn't just WWII where rationing was introduced, it also happened in 1918.

Flowers on my allotment
Looking forward to much more of this to come later this year as I start my Flowers for Mum project


  1. I love reading about the history of allotment sites. Ours is quite well documented, they were given to people who needed land hundreds of years ago by a wealthy local landowner. Originally just as one big plot, then split into two, then ending up as over a hundred plots. I like to think of people working the land for all of that time to feed themselves.

    1. That's interesting CJ. The allotments at Great Somerford are over 200 years old and were created when the land was enclosed so that the poor of the parish could continue to feed themselves. They're also open for the NGS :)

  2. Interesting. Dome of our plot holders had plots when out site opened about 40/50 years ago but no photos I'm afraid.

    1. I wonder what I'll find in the archives Sue - I hope there are some photos!

  3. I just came across your blog, and have been enjoying reading your posts ... I've lost myself in it, really, spending quite a bit of time with my coffee cup and my lap blanket and my laptop and your blog. :-) Have added you to my daily blog reading list and look forward to seeing more. Thanks for your wonderful blog!

    If you're interested in an American suburban gardener's tales, feel free to join me at


    1. What a lovely thing to say, thanks Jenny :)

  4. Oh there's much to ponder over there VP. No doubt you will unearth some intriguing facts and probably end up with more unanswered questions :) Our site is relatively new - a child of the '70s I think. It was previously used as a tree nursery by the development corporation as the town expanded during that decade. I've no idea what the land was used for before then so may well do some digging myself.

    1. I'm fully expecting each question to morph into several others as I uncover more information Anna! I look forward to seeing what you unearth from your digging.


Post a Comment

I love hearing from you and welcome thoughtful conversations :)

Comments aiming to link back and give credence to commercial websites will be composted!

Your essential reads

Review: Riverford Recipe Box with guest chef Sarah Raven

How not to look after your Pilea peperomioides

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: 'Just Add Cream'

How to make a show judge's life harder

Dessert Apple Jelly: Seasonal Recipe

Salad Days: Mastering Lettuce

Review: Stihl Compact Cordless Blower BGA 56

Postcard from Texas

Snow Time