1917 War Allotments

From the minutes of the Mitcham Urban District council
Volume III 1917 to 1918
19th June, 1917
Pages 51 to 53

—The following report of the War Allotments Sub-Committee was submitted :—

The Committee have since their report made to the Council on the 27th February last held eight meetings. and beg to report to the Council as follows :—

The number of applicants for the allotments have been 530. The number of applicants satisfied who have taken up the land and are in possession of their allotments is 349; the rents received in advance for the half-year to Michaelmas amount to £49 5s 1 1/2d. The land acquired provided 417 plots. With some few exceptions, each allotment consists of 10 rods. This included land offered by the Wandsworth Gas Company, on which 20 allotments were set out, but only 7 were found to be capable of cultivation to advantage ; and on the estate of Mr. Ollerhead, where 35 allotments were set out, only 14 were taken up on account of the indifferent condition of the land. The only land acquired and set out for allotments which is suitable but has not been taken up is in Tamworth Lane, on Mr. Wise’s Estate, where 24 plots were set out and only 13 have been taken up, and 1 on St. George’s Road (Mr. Jones’s Estate), notwithstanding the fact that special handbills were printed and distributed around the district inviting applications.

These allotments are distributed throughout the Council’s district as follows:-

In the North Ward

Gorringe Park 62
Tooting Junction 10
Links Estate 9

In the South Ward

Elmwood Estate 59
Ollerhead’s Estate 14
Francis’s Meadow 7
Gas Works Land 7
Simmons’ Land 13

In the East Ward

East Fields 20
Graham Road 9
St. George’s Road 28
Tamworth Lane 11
Mitcham Lodge 7

In the West Ward

Colliers Wood 9
Byegrove Estate 25
Fortescue, Courtney and Devonshire Roads 21
Christchurch Road 17
Phipps Bridge 21
Total 349

A considerable number of applicants for allotments declined to take their plots up for various reasons: some because they were not close enough to their abode, some because of their working hours have been increased by their employers, others on account of their own or son’s enlistment, others because they were afraid of work, some never troubled to reply at all to the reminders sent them, and personal applications had to be made in the evening and frequently on Sundays, the only time the applicants could be found at home.


The arrangements made by the Board of Agriculture for the supply of seed potatoes has been most unsatisfactory. Through the County Committee the applicants were requested to state the quantity they required, and a choice of three sorts in two qualities were offered them, and your Committee upon receipt of the applications made request for the supply of 12 tons, which more than covered the quantity applied for up to the given date, Feb. 10th. The seed potatoes were delivered in instalments, and no definite information could he obtained its to whether the total quantity applied for would be delivered or not, or on what date they would be received. The first delivery of 2 tons was received on March 31st, the next delivery of 7 1/2 tons on April 11th, and a third delivery of 2 1/2 tons on April 17th. In the meantime additional applications were received, and the Committee applied for a further 4 tons (which they were informed would not probably be supplied), and the 12 tons were distributed, priority being given to all allotment holders ; but eventually another 4 tons arrived on April 27th, entailing a second distribution and going over the same ground a second time.

This procedure complicated the distribution, as the seed potatoes did not correspond either with qualify, description or price with the applications ; and as some applicants had already paid, some money had to be returned, whilst from others additional amounts had to be collected, whilst many of the applicants were found to have obtained their supplies elsewhere, entailing very considerable number of letters of explanation and visits to the applicants.

The potato seed was distributed to 265 persona, the amount received being £240: 0 : 6.

The Committee organised a course of three lectures on Potato Culture and the Cultivation of Allotments, the lecturer (Mr. Burgess) being supplied by the Surrey County Council.

In compliance with the request of the Board of Agriculture (Food Production Department) the Committee have resolved to undertake the spraying of potato crops of allottees at a charge of 3d. per rod of the crops sprayed, and issued a notice inviting applications. In order to secure the supply of sprayers and chemicals the Committee found it necessary to apply at once to the Board of Agriculture and pay for the sprayers and chemicals without which there appeared to be no certainty of obtaining them in time, and accordingly they recommend, That the Clerk be reimbursed the sum of £25 : 4 : 0 advanced by him.

the sprayers have not yet come to hand, but the spraying will be commenced on receipt thereof.

W.J. Hill,

June 12th, 1917

Resolved, That the report be received and adopted.

Minutes of meetings held by the Mitcham Urban District Council are available on request from the Merton Heritage and Local Studies Centre at Morden Library.

1 thought on “1917 War Allotments

  1. Pingback: Mitcham 1917: The impact of total war on the home front. | Mitcham War Memorial

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