THE HISTORY OF NORTHCHURCH PARISH COUNCIL ALLOTMENTS

The first mention of allotments for Northchurch Parish Council (who, incidentally were responsible for administration in the Sunnyside area of Berkhamsted) came in a note dated 3 October 1898 which indicated that the Parish Council was interested in acquiring 9 acres in George Street and district, 7 acres in Dudswell and 26 acres in Northchurch. In 1899, a Mr Benjamin Waite requested sufficient allotment land for his two donkeys!!

The next mention of allotments came in December 1913 when Messrs Graham Maple, William Batchelor, Fred Batchelor, Jess Hales, Fred Meager and Mrs Howes and her son each desired one acre of land for use as allotments. There is no indication as to whether they actually received it.

A further request for allotment land was noted in February 1918 when the suggested sites were the field at Orchard End, cottage garden allotments which adjoin Northchurch New Road, the upper field where the Council’s existing allotments are, Bell Orchard behind the old chapel and the bottom part of Durrants Lane adjoining the High Street between Box Cottage and Durrants Lodge. The last site was formally applied for for three acres but was not made available. We now believe that the two existing sites where the allotments are currently situated were, we believe, bought by the Parish Council in the mid 1920’s. My grandfather had a farm on the upper site where he kept pigs and chickens. In addition to these two plots, the Parish Council purchased an adjoining field which was the field below what used to be called Tommy Eggleton’s bungalow and what is now called Gorseside. This field is currently let by the Parish Council to Miss Claridge for farming.

In the 1980’s, the Local Government Ombudsman asked local authorities to examine their boundaries to let him know where improvements could be made. Northchurch Parish Council, who had responsibilities for some cottages in Nettleden as well as responsibilities for part of Hall Park in Berkhamsted and indeed some properties on the road between Ravens Lane and Potten End, agreed that they would give up all of those properties. Meanwhile, the then Berkhamsted Urban District Council suggested that Northchurch Parish Council, which was then extremely rural and had just 750 inhabitants, should be absorbed by Berkhamsted Town Council. Northchurch decided, in view of that, that it would seek to control the Parish administration for the village of Northchurch. Previously, the Parish Council had ceased to function south of the Green Belt line which ran from the High Street to the canal on the Northchurch side of the Recreation Ground. Incidentally, the Recreation Ground was also, at that stage, owned by Dacorum District Council, now Dacorum Borough Council. The competition for a result on this dispute was keenly fought with Northchurch turning out eventual winners by some 400 votes to 4. The Minister concerned made a decision, therefore, that Northchurch Parish Council should control the Northchurch part of what was then the Northchurch part of Berkhamsted as well as losing the outlying areas to more centrally-placed Council authorities. The only drawback to all of this (and I expect you are wondering when we would get back to the allotments) was that Berkhamsted Town Council was to remain in control of both sets of allotments and the “Eggleton” field. The basic reason for their enthusiasm to retain this was that the lower allotment site in particular was very valuable in terms of building land and, since Berkhamsted was entirely surrounded by Green Belts at that stage, it would be difficult to see where they could expand. The Parish Council wrote to the Local Government Ombudsman and explained that we thought this was a bizarre decision. Fortunately, he agreed with us and transferred the ownership of the allotments back to the control of Northchurch Parish Council so the wheel came a complete circle. The administration is now vested in an Allotment Committee which works very amicably with the Northchurch Allotment Association.

If you want an allotment on the upper or lower site you should talk to Mrs Denise Rouse on 875321 or get in touch with the Parish Clerk whose telephone number is 01442 876911.

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