Harder Times

Though unknown at the time the patterns of life that had sustained the allotments through six decades were slowly disappearing. Shopping in supermarkets and buying ready meals were commonplace and leisure ambitions were more ambitious. The model of the working man being head of house and provider in chief was being challenged by both the post‐war boom which offered new opportunities for women and the incipient second wave of feminism. Also, the older skills and industries were to be replaced in decades to come with new skills, now based on I.T. plus service and retail work. An institution such as St Mary’s devised for and run by, in essence, working men, was being faced with the need to change.

Alongside this, by the 1970s, demand for plots had fallen and by 1975 it was quite easy to pick up a plot (covered in couch grass) that had quite possibly been a prize winner in the 1930s. National demand reflects the local trend. Department of the Environment figures show that from a high point of 1,0392,33 plots across the country, only 532,964 remained by 1970 with 21% of these vacant. (Ref. 8) Ironically, at the same time there was a new cohort of would be gardeners who had been trying to gain access locally but were being refused. Behind this lay the migration to England from the 1950s of people from many countries including Scotland, Ireland, India and Jamaica as well as Spain and Italy.