Friday, 30 July 2010

Birkdale Allotment anniversary?

I was talking with a fellow plot holder at the Birkdale Irrigation Allotment site and our conversation turned to when the site was established. More that ten years ago I spent a happy few hours reading the back minutes of the old Birkdale Urban District Council and the Southport Guardian to track down that information. As is the way with my filing system I cannot find my notes now but I recall the outlines. (Health warning my memory is not as good as it once was and I think the temporary Library has the minute books in storage)

The 1906 Liberal Government was determined to bring in legislation to improve the provision of allotments and small holdings. This was a key plank of several elections  especially the first County Council election that were held in the late 1880s. Indeed a previous Tory government fell as a result of loosing a vote on Allotments (there was some speculation just how much Gladstone knew about Allotments or the amendment).

Anyway back to Birkdale, after the 1907 Allotment legislation:

The Smallholding and Allotment Act 1907
Imposed responsibilities on parish, urban district and borough councils to provide allotments and further legislation in 1908 consolidated previous acts and resolved various anomalies.

In Birkdale the agitation for a site began. Reading the minutes it was clear that the Council were none to interested but eventually a site was established on Shaftesbury Avenue but it was only a temporary one. Supposedly the council was seeking a site but not with any great enthusiasm. They had not reckoned on one Ebenezer Baxendale. He petitioned the council and kept reminding them of their new legal responsibilities and would not take NO for an answer. This was batted back and forward for sometime until the council finally bowed to inevitable and found a site which was let from the owners of Scarisbrick Hall. In those days it was all Lancashire so the fact that it lay outside of the parish boundary was probably unimportant. Today the site is in West Lancs .
What became of Ebenezer? Well there is a Baxendale on the War Memorial at St John's church would died in the 1st World War. I have the memory that this was Ebenezer's son who had emigrated to Canada. The church has done research into all those whose name appear on the memorial and there is a folder in the church so I can check up on that detail.

All this leads me to think we are close to the 100 anniversary of the site.

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