Foster Road Allotments and the Trumpington Allotment Society

Howard Slatter
April 2011

When the Estate was built in the 1940s, the plans incorporated an area of allotments. This history of the Foster Road allotments and those near Alpha Terrace is based on a contribution given at the On the Street Where You Live meeting of the Local History Group on 31 March 2011. See also the introduction to The Estate .

Trumpington Allotments in 2010. Photo: Howard Slatter.

The original plans for the estate referred not only to “housing for the working classes”, but also to “allotments and allotment gardens”. On the early plan of the layout of the whole estate, the area for “proposed allotments” is clearly marked. It includes not only the present site with its 50 plots, but also another 60 or so plots at the edge of the field to the north-east of the current chicken plots. These were on Cambridge Borough (later City) Council land that is currently (2011) being prepared for building as part of the Clay Farm development. An aerial view from 1960 or 1961 shows most of the site, with the Royal Show in full swing.

The Conveyance of the land from the Pemberton Trustees to the Council, January 1940: Second Schedule. Source: Antony Pemberton.

Trumpington Allotments in 2010. Photo: Howard Slatter.
Trumpington Allotments in 2010. Photo: Howard Slatter.
The Conveyance of the land from the Pemberton Trustees to the Council, January 1940: Second Schedule. Source: Antony Pemberton.
The Conveyance of the land from the Pemberton Trustees to the Council, January 1940: Second Schedule. Source: Antony Pemberton.
The Trumpington Allotments plan. Source: Cambridge Council.
The Trumpington Allotments plan. Source: Cambridge Council.

The Trumpington Allotments plan. Source: Cambridge Council.

Aerial view of the Royal Show and Trumpington Allotments, 1960 or 1961. Source: Antony Pemberton.
Aerial view of the Royal Show and Trumpington Allotments, 1960 or 1961. Source: Antony Pemberton.

Aerial view of the Royal Show and Trumpington Allotments, 1960 or 1961. Source: Antony Pemberton.

The first page of the original Minutes Book of the Trumpington Allotment and Garden Society Ltd (TAGS) records the inaugural meeting in April 1947, when building of the estate was still in full swing. Early pages from the first plot rentals book, dating from May 1947, show that allotment tenants, as now, came from right across the village, not just from the estate. Note plot 38, S.A. Jones, Brenda Bass’s father.
The Trumpington Allotments minute book, 1947. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.
The Trumpington Allotments minute book, 1947. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.
The Trumpington Allotments minute book, 1947. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.

The Trumpington Allotments minute book, 1947. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.

Extract from the Trumpington Allotments plot rent book. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.
Extract from the Trumpington Allotments plot rent book. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.

Extract from the Trumpington Allotments plot rent book. Source: Trumpington Allotment Society.

In an aerial view taken in 1955 or 1956, the Foster Road allotments are visible top-left, but also the allotments behind Alpha Terrace in the right foreground. These pre-dated the “new” allotments, and their management was taken on by TAGS in 1947.
Aerial view of Trumpington from the north, late 1950s. Mr W. Stanion: included in Trumpington Past & Present, p. 65.
Aerial view of Trumpington from the north, late 1950s. Mr W. Stanion: included in Trumpington Past & Present, p. 65.

Aerial view of Trumpington from the north, late 1950s. Mr W. Stanion: included in Trumpington Past & Present , p. 65.

As the estate filled up, demand grew in the immediate post-war years of rationing and austerity. Chicken plots were established on 1.7 acres of the site deemed to be “unsuitable for allotments”.

A second-hand trading hut was bought from the Ministry of Works in Brooklands Avenue, dismantled and re-erected by members of the Society. It was replaced with railway wagons in 1976, then with a permanent trading hut in about 1990.

By 1956 demand for allotments was at its peak and a further 10 plots were taken from an option along the top edge of the field. Then the popularity of allotment gardening started to decline: those extra 10 plots were handed back in 1959; 40 more were returned to the Council in 1961 and a further 16 in 1971. Only 68 then remained.

In 1973, the Monkswell houses were built on two-thirds of the Alpha Terrace allotment land – there were no problems accommodating those who wanted to continue on the Foster Road site. Then the rest of the Alpha Terrace allotments were taken for housing in 1982 with the building of Ely Place and Salisbury Place.

The 21st century has seen a resurgence of interest in allotment gardening. A “standard” plot has always been 10 poles, i.e. about 250 square metres, intended to support a family of four people. Until recently most tenants in Trumpington had at least one plot, but latterly the standard allocation for someone starting up has become only a quarter plot. Even so the current (2011) waiting list has 15 people on it. New allotment land will be a feature of the latest housing developments in Trumpington, but almost certainly demand will exceed supply as people increasingly value growing food for themselves.

Finally a mystery photo. This is somehow connected with the Trumpington allotments, but how? Sidney Jones is standing third from the right, but who are the other men? When and where was this taken? And who was Charlie?

Relaxing at Trumpington Allotments. Source: Brenda Bass.
Relaxing at Trumpington Allotments. Source: Brenda Bass.

Relaxing at Trumpington Allotments. Source: Brenda Bass.