In the Gardeners` Chronicle, September 18th 1880 (the year before NSHS allotment were made) p.357 , N.J.D wrote about a garden in Hazlehurst, near Worsley, not far from Wigan, belonging to a working collier called Tyledsley, which gave him great surprise and pleasure. He described colliers as a class of men of whom many speak disparagingly, because so few understand them, in the greater part rough and uncouth and much of their hard earned wages are spent foolishly. They are a puzzle to many and a difficulty to the philanthropist to know how to reach them. Tyldesley and his son were enthusiastic botanists with a sincere and ardent love of plants and, being teetotallers they did not spend their leisure time sotting about as too many do. He went on to describe their fine collection of ferns, alpines and rare plants which would not have disgraced a metropolitan show and would be the envy of many gardeners he knew.
N.J.D. gave the same argument Giles had done 8 years previously. He had mixed much among the working classes and wished he could persuade the landowners to set apart a few acres of land for workmen. He thought they would pay for it and it would save hundreds from the public house. “We may talk about morality and temperance till the crack of doom, and not make or persuade working men to become temperate till we give them some healthy pleasant recreation like a garden. Give me the man who loves his little garden like the Messers Tyldesley and I will show you the man who is not a drunkard. Unfortunately I have known many drunken gardeners and garden labourers, but a hard working artisan, who loved his garden and was a drunkard, I have never known.”
He believed that the landowner who would set apart land for gardens, would confer a great benefit on society – on the working man himself and his family, by creating a healthy recreation for the man himself, and a good preparation for the next day in the mill – a benefit to his family by supplying them with fresh vegetables and fruits, besides creating a love for the beautiful in the minds of many, and thus tending to create many a happy and cheerful, because sober home.
N.J.D`s view was endorsed in the September 25th issue, p.404 by H.G.W. who was certain that the master who gives his miners a piece of allotment ground near his house will ultimately reap the benefit of it by having better workmen, sober, steady, good men, who will stand by their employer in time of difficulty or of strike.
So – not only were allotments a means of moral and social improvement they were also a means of improving industrial relations and averting unrest !!