Links for Heaton Community Allotment Project
Heaton Allotment Association
A History of Heaton Allotments
When the Earl of Rosse disposed of his Heaton and Shipley estates in 1911-1912, he presented Heaton Hill recreation ground to Bradford Corporation for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, and allowed them to buy Heaton Woods with all their valuable timber for a very reasonable price. .
The deal included the two fields immediately north of the Hill, known as Lane End Close (i.e., at the end of Nog Lane) and Round Hill Field, which were destined for use as allotment gardens. Not that allotments were new in the area; when Heaton Low Moor was enclosed in 1781, part of the enclosure (the site of present -day Abbotswood) was 'allotted' to the residents of Garden Terrace for the purposes of domestic horticulture. In late Victorian times Garden Street looked out upon real gardens (and a pigsty), and a hundred years ago the site of a filled-in quarry (between Rossefield Road and the present-day St Barnabas School) served as allotments, with the full complement of cold-frames and greenhouses.
Heaton Allotments have therefore been a feature of our local life for almost 90 years, and have given pleasure and fulfilment to generations of local families. During the Second World War most schools had their own allotments where basic crops such as potatoes and cabbages were grown, and it must have been memories of countless hours spent with spade, fork and hoe that inspired me as a 15-year old schoolboy to rent a plot on Heaton Allotments.
I cannot remember what I intended to plant, but whatever I had in mind, my plans were swept aside by an unexpected burst of family enthusiasm. My parents, sister and grandfather all 'wanted a slice of the action', and I found myself paying not one rent but two. Both plots were painstakingly dug over ('one spit deep'), and thoroughly fertilised with well rotted manure brought on a horse-drawn cart.
A crop of potatoes served to break up the soil, followed by broad beans, cabbages, Brussel sprouts, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and well-trenched celery. Celery, of course, needs plenty of water (and plenty of exercise!), a duty which invariably fell on me. Insects and other creatures were firmly repelled with derris powder and slug pellets. Larger intruders such as cattle and hares were less easy to deal with, and the damage which they caused was random and frustrating, but a well-aimed 'whiff of grapeshot' converted at least one of the hares into the contents of a pie.
Family enthusiasm reached its height with the erection of The Greenhouse, designed by my father and built by the local joiner in concrete, brick, wood and glass. Even two or three years after the end of the War, building materials were scarce, and we had to apply for a license to buy them. Clear glass was a luxury denied to mere greenhouses, and we had to 'make do' with the semi-translucent variety. Chrysanthemums and tomatoes soon flourished in abundance with the encouragement of dried blood (animal, not human, I hasten to add!) and sheep droppings gathered on Baildon Moor (under protest) and steeped in water to produce a potent liquor.
The work was hard and the products plentiful. Fresh air, exercise and motivation - you can't beat it
At that period (1947-1950) the plots were in great demand, and only half a dozen of them were unoccupied. Not all the tenants were local
I remember a man and wife who walked every day from their home in Salt Street, Manning ham, to cultivate their allotment, and eventually removed to Quarry Street to be closer to it. Many friendships and acquaintanceships were formed, many of which lasted for a lifetime.
Over the years public enthusiasm for allotments has waned, as television and the joys of motoring have opened up new horizons for 'ordinary folk'. The original Heaton Allotment Society disbanded about 1975, but happily a new generation of green fingered gardeners has arisen in our midst, and wheelbarrows laden with implements
are once more seen in Heaton streets. One of the most unusual memories of my term as Lord Mayor (2000-2001) is of being invited to launch the Association's Compost Heap - and a happy occasion it was! May the revived Association and all its good works continue to flourish for may years to come.
J S King
This page has been visited times.