1920s – Every day life on the gardens

I`ve decided that going through the minutes meeting by meeting will be amazingly tedious, so I`m going to take it decade by decade, and pull out anything that seems interesting.  What I will say, related to the previous post, is that by the time of the AGM in February 1923, they had not got money from all the boys who damaged Fred Beech`s garden and the broken fence had not been mended.

They discussed draining, where to have the dump, ordering and storing timber, making new gates, repairing the fencing, ordering new locks for the gates – in 1923 they realised that many people had a key who had no garden and this was no good for security. There are several resolutions that the secretary write letters to the Estate offices in regard to fencing, and in 1926 the committee resolved “that we pay no rent until it is done.”  The committee considered complaints: John Moore`s “smoke nuisance,” his putting ashes on his garden, Wm Price`s elderberry trees being a hindrance to Hy Roden`s garden. There are references to unclean gardens, untrimmed fences and dirty paths and the offending plot holders were given notice to clean their gardens.

Existing plot holders often transferred between gardens and there were regular and lengthy discussions about who would swap with who and move were.  They also spent a lot of time on the letting of gardens to new applicants, about who should take preference or have first choice of available plots.  The way this was decided varied, sometimes they reached agreement, sometimes they voted, on other occasions they put names in a hat.  In 1929 a resolution was passed that gardens would be let in order of application.

Allotments were different sizes and people paid different amounts according to size.   Some plot holders had single gardens which, according to the 1926/27 accounts cost 7s 6d for the two years (3s 9d per annum).  Others had double gardens and paid 15s for the two years (7s 6d per annum). There were 45 gardeners listed and the rents varied from 5s to 16s 4d.  The amount charged for some allotments was disputed.  In 1923, at the request of certain members the question of reassessment of gardens was raised and after a long discussion it was allowed to drop.  In 1928 there was a discussion about rents and it was resolved that Faircloughs old garden be 4/3, Causeys garden be 4/6 and Broomheads be 7/6 as the other double gardens are (which fits with the figures listed in the accounts). Those whose gardens were also used as a dump were allowed them rent free or given a rent reduction.

Collecting rents was a continuing problem, and outstanding rents and what to do about them was discussed every year.  According to the earliest rulebook (1947) rents were due by 31st May.  However, in 1923 some gardeners had not paid their rent in December and it was resolved that the Secretary write to those members who had not paid their rent to inform them that their gardens be not re let to them until they are paid. Some had still not paid by January 1924 and it was resolved that the Secretary give them to understand if their rent is not paid in a week their gardens will be taken from them.  A week later the committee resolved that those who have not paid their rent be asked to pay at once or deliver up their key.   At the end of January 1924 they had still not paid up.  There was some discussion about this with amendments put forward that they should be given a fortnight to pay, or even allowed a whole year, but in the end the original proposal was accepted by 6 votes to 4.

I wonder why there should be any discussion about giving people time for paying the rent.  There is certainly no discussion at present and we are all expected to pay on time.  May be poverty was the reason.  There is an interesting minute from 1929 when the committee decided to allow Charles Gregson his garden rent free that year.  I wonder if this was an indication of economic hardship.  Maybe  the committee thought that he genuinely could not afford to pay his rent and let him keep his garden out of kindness.

A bit of context in support of the poverty theory – In 1926, between April to November, the first general strike was called in support of the miners, who were facing a pay cut.  The strike was unsuccesful and the miners returned to work on reduced wages.  One story says that the Wigan Miners returned to work first, eating “humble pie” – the origin of the term “pie eaters,”  although this is disputed.

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