21 Aug 2009

People Need Roots…

"Kiddies" digging in the VegPatch, circa 1960

The urge to grow veg (and flowers) resurrects a fine, historical trend within our community.

When the flats were built in the late 1930s, it was specified that there should be plenty of space for social living and gardening: allotments, raised brick beds, window boxes on each balcony, gardens between - and flower beds surrounding - the houses. The land for the flats was provided by the London Midland and Scottish Railway. It was a triangle of orchard farmland, leftover after the railway line had been run next to it, and had therefore never been poisoned by industrial use.

Irene Barclay*, writing in her book ‘People Need Roots’ (1976), considered that
'the finest achievements are at York Rise, where we had much more space for both communal and private gardens, and for children’s gardens, where the kiddies learnt not to kill worms, and how to wait for seeds to germinate.'  
And, to prove it, here they are, gardening their little socks off in the early 1960s. (The real point of interest here is the garden… that's our VegPatch in its previous incarnation.)

The early York Rise tenants - mainly railwaymen rehoused from the Euston area - had a love of gardening, and Mrs Barclay writes that ‘York Rise’ became famous for its flower and vegetable gardens.

Oh. Great. … so, no pressure there then.
*Irene Barclay was an architect whose work was instrumental in the early days of the St. Pancras Housing Improvement Society (as our landlord was then known).


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