This year 2012 it will be 100 years since the Small Holdings were built in Forest Town, yet many people will be totally oblivious of them or there origin.
First we should be aware of a brief history of Small Holdings going back to early allotments and the Enclosure Act’s in the 1800’s -one of the web sites this can be found on is www.allotment.org.uk ›Articles.
We may also ask what the definition of a Small Holding is and one suggestion is that it is ‘ an area of land bigger than a garden and smaller than a farm, used for productive agriculture or forestry.’ see www.lowimpact.org
In the early days of Forest Town (which until 1936 came the Parish of Mansfield Woodhouse) the Small Holding and Allotment Act was being considered. In 1908 the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts imposed responsibilities on parish, urban district and borough councils to provide allotments. www.allotment.org.uk › Articles.
One of the earliest mentions of the Small Holdings is newspaper report of the Mansfield Woodhouse Council Meeting in November 1911, when plans were submitted for ‘Eight cottages proposed to be built on Old Mill Lane, Mansfield Woodhouse for the Mansfield Woodhouse Small Holdings Society. It was resolved the plans be approved.’
Documents in the Portland Papers held at Nottingham University relating to the conveyance of land for the Small Holdings quote the fuller title and address as Mansfield Woodhouse Co-operative Small Holdings Society and Allotments Society Ltd of 159 Sherwood Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire.
Sale not rental
It appears that often the use of land for Small Holdings was normally done on a rental basis but to quote from www.ebooksread.com/…/page-21-agricultural-organisation-its-rise-pr
‘The Mansfield Woodhouse (Notts) Small Holdings Society has gone still further than land renting, having bought from the Duke of Portland 40 acres of land for division among eight of its members, each of whom gets five acres and a house, the payments to extend over a period of 35 years.
The members in question are at present mostly engaged in mining, and their idea is to cultivate their holdings with assistance in their leisure time, raising potatoes, barley, oats, parsnips and market garden produce generally, together with poultry and pigs, for sale among the Duke’s tenants’ and eventually depending altogether on their holdings for a livelihood.’
Who built the eight Small Holdings is so far unknown but it has been suggested that Mr Cantrill was instrumental in the design of them. The first occupiers were recalled by Ernie Morris who I interviewed on 27th May 1988. Ernie moved with his parents to the Small Holdings when he was a few months old in 1912. He was one of at least 8 children.
It is noted that Old Mill Lane, despite being this on very early maps is remembered as Sheepwash Lane, indeed it is given as Sheepwash Lane on the conveyance documents. It was also refered to as Woodhouse Lane.
Land Tax – circa 1913
The Land Tax describes each of the Small Holdings as a Brick & Slate house with a scullery hot and cold water on sink, living room, parlour, larder, 2 bedrooms, cellar, small bedroom, bathroom. Out side there was a W.C. and a range of wooden buildings such as pig sties and loose box. Each had 5 acres of land.
IMPLEMENTS & TREES
Mr Gibson (in 1995) recalled that implements provided for the small holders consisted of a two wheeled heavy working cart, a four wheeled dray, harrows, and a plough with double and single shear. Fruit trees were also given.
The earliest known picture of the Small Holdings was taken by Shadrach Osler, Postmaster at Forest Town. Taken around 1915 near the top of Old Mill Lane as we know it today, we get a feel of life when for most people, cycling, walking or horses were the mode of transport. ‘Hos muck’ can be seen on the road.
In the early years there would have been extensive open views all around these properties. A hint of this can be seen from these photographs taken around 1969 from the highest small holding in this area.
When the origional tenants of the small holdings died, such as John Morrris in 1933 the ownership was handed down to eight decendants and the land was divided between them. This could have changed the use of the land.
It was possibly around the late 1960’s when the biggest changes came and housing developments sprang up on land along Old Mill Lane in the area of the Small Holdings. I believe Barratts were the first with the ‘Forest Barn Estate’ and then ‘The Chestnuts’ the latter being on land which was once part of the Small Holding owned by Mr King, then Mr J Sellors. Three streets were built on ‘The Chestnuts’, Elmhurst Road, Sandycliffe Road and Oakridge Close.
At least two of the Small Holdings took on new ventures. Arbour Animal Accomodation catered for a wide variety of animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, goats etc. This property was situated away from Old Mill Lane and was reached by a track/road.
Bordering on Old Mill Lane was the property that became Three Thorne Boarding Kennels and Cattery. Oral History decrees that Ron Moon who lived there, also at one time kept Mink, and then Rabbits. The property still had plenty of land then, this was eventually sold off and is now a large housing estate.
With close observation some of the remaining Small Holding houses can be discovered today , lived in and well looked after by theri tenants. How many of them realise what an important and interesting part of Forest Town’s history these properties are?
However the property below has changed beyond recognition, luckily it was photographed in March 1998 and as such remains part of our local heritage.
With acknowledgement to Jill Gascoyne for her interest in the Small Holdings, her loan of some photogrpahs and documents.