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Allotment Gardens for the Unemployed


During the 1930s, allotments were provided for the unemployed and the scheme was described as ‘one of the most important social services which have been placed in the hands of local authorities.’

By Lesley Acton
Feb 9, 2013


By 1928, there were 300,000 unemployed miners (almost half from South Wales), of whom 200,000 – 250,000 had little or no hope of finding work in the pits again. In the winter of that year, several collieries in the area shut down and soon there were, reported The Times, ‘1,000,000 souls facing starvation.’ The miners, through no fault of their own, were victims of a failing economic and political system and allotments were seen as a way to help them. Unlike the nineteenth century, however, it was not the landed classes, the church or the government that stepped in, instead, it was the Society of Friends (SOF) (the Quakers) who set up the Coalfields Distress Committee to help and encourage men to grow-their-own food.

The Friend’s scheme was an immediate success and within a short time, there were 203 allotment societies in South Wales. By 1929, some 1,600 tons of seed potatoes were distributed to allotment holders, along with 12.5 tons of peas, 8 tons of beans and over a million packets of seeds. By 1930, there were 15,000 allotments holders in Sheffield, where a plot could be rented for 2d. per week, with nothing to pay for the first six months. One ten rod plot in Sheffield was said to have produced 700 pounds of potatoes, 30 cauliflower, 40 cabbages, 60 pounds of peas, 30 pounds of beans, 20 pounds of beets and 30 – 40 yards of flowers. The average yield from a plot was calculated at £5 to £7 worth of produce per year.

Read the complete article here.