Start of St Mary’s Allotment Association

When was our present site first used for allotments, and when was St Mary’s Allotment Association formed?

We don’t yet have an answer to the first question, but we do for the second. Towards the end of the 19th Century the Leamington Courier reported Flower and Horticultural shows in minute detail, listing all classes and prizewinners. In August 1894 St Mary’s Parish held its first show, the “St Mary’s Cottagers and General Horticultural and Industrial Show” , and among the many classes listed was one for the “… best cultivated and cropped garden in the Radford Road Allotments.”

The Courier reported annual shows thereafter, and it becomes clear from the reports that allotment holders on our site rented their gardens from a Mr A.White. This continued until in 1909 the following item appeared in the ‘Local News’ section of the newspaper:

Leamington Spa Courier Friday 19 February 1909 (page 4 column 3)

St. Mary’s Allotments

A largely attended meeting of allotment holders of glebe land on the Radford Road was held at the Oak Inn last (Thursday) evening. The object was the formation of an association for the taking over and working the allotments. Mr J. Staite was unanimously elected as Chairman. Rules were submitted, and after considerable discussion were passed. The name of the association is to be “The St. Mary’s Allotments Association,” and all holders of ground must be members of the Association. The following officers were elected: Trustees, Mr. J.M Molesworth, Mr. J. Staite, Mr. J. Stiles, Mr. S. Blunt, and Mr. R.French; Chairman, Mr. J. Staite; Vice-Chairmen, Mr Spencer and Mr Wiggins; Treasurer, Mr Satchwell; Secretary, Mr. A.Potter; Committee ( elected by allotment holders), Messrs. Cooper, Saul, Fisher, Dee, Rathbone, Warwick, and Harris. A vote of thanks to the Chairman concluded a very successful meeting. “

When we read the report of the horticultural show of the same year, we find that Mr White is not mentioned, but that the prizes are now awarded “For the best cultivated and cropped vegetable garden in the Radford Road allotments, for cottagers renting under St Mary’s Allotment Association.”

Among the prizewinners listed for 1909 was the grandfather of one of our current members!

So, it looks as though our Association dates from that meeting in the Oak Inn.