Allotmentitis: How Britain Dug for Victory

I love allotments

Heritage Calling

Nowadays we typically associate allotments with garden hobbyists, but they were born out of a national drive for self-sufficiency.

To mark National Gardening Week (10- 16 April), Jenifer White, National Landscape Adviser at Historic England, introduces the history of allotments and their significance to our historic landscape.

Women_at_work_during_the_First_World_War_Q108033 WIKI Women at Work during the first world war Q 108033 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

The U-boat blockages in the First World War created a food supply crisis, as the UK was still largely dependent on imports.   In February 1917 U-boats sunk 230 ships and the toll rose further.  By June, a shortage of potatoes led to hotels being instructed by the Government to only serve them on Tuesdays.

By the outbreak of the war, the number of allotments was estimated at just over 440,000. As well as councils, railway companies, private landowners and the Church of England also rented out…

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Fitzrovia community group heaps scorn on Westminster Council’s plans for taller and bulkier buildings

Fitzrovia News

A Fitzrovia community group has added its voice to criticism of Westminster Council’s proposals to increase the number of tall and denser buildings allowed to accommodate economic and population growth.

Map of the City of Westminster showing policy areas. Building Heights in Policy Context. Source: Westminster Council.

The Council before it revises its City Plan wants to hear the public’s views in an eight week consultation on how it should shape the city of the future.

“Delivering the numbers of jobs and homes growth will bring means we have to look at ways of making best use of the sites we have, including building higher and denser — and considering the scope for tall buildings, while protecting the places and spaces that make Westminster special,” says Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for planning and public realm at Westminster City Council.

However, Astaire’s strategy for growth is doomed to failure says a professional architect and town planner.

“Economic growth will not occur if Westminster…

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Labour launches Pimlico Clean Air Petition

I think we need an awareness raising campaign in Fitzrovia. I’m fed up with lorries, vans and cars illegally parked with their engines running.

labourwestminster

vincent-square-action-teamWestminster was recently named one of its worst three boroughs for killer pollution. And within Westminster, one of the worst air pollution blackspots is Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Local residents have been telling us how air pollution from this busy road is affecting their lives on an almost daily basis. Vauxhall Bridge Road has exceptional levels of traffic, as it’s part of the London ring road and a boundary to the congestion charge zone. It is also a high-density residential area where many vulnerable people live – including children and the elderly – and numerous schools are within half a mile of the road. Families live overlooking major areas of traffic congestion, while other local residents cross it regularly throughout the day to access shops, schools and local buses and Tubes.

We are calling on Mayor Sadiq Khan and Westminster City Council to put Vauxhall Bridge Road at the top…

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The First British Bungalow

Heritage Calling

Single story dwellings under the name Bungalow have been around since the mid-19th century. The bungalow became both a symbol of bohemianism and the building type of choice for the aspiring upper middle class seeking an affordable second home in which to enjoy the new concept of ‘the weekend’.

Dr Andy Brown, Planning Director at Historic England, takes us through the mysterious origins of the bungalow in Britain.

The first modern British bungalows were designed by little-known English architect,  John Taylor, (1818-1884), and built at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent 1869-70.

The term ‘bungalow’ originated in the Bengali region of India, meaning ‘house in the Bengal style’. But is this really where John Taylor’s design came from? Perhaps Taylor was merely designing cheap but weatherproof houses for working people, the culmination of a long-harboured aspiration  of a socially-responsible architect.

fair-outlook One of Taylor’s bungalows- ‘Fair Outlook’, formerly ‘The Hut’, completed by August 1874.

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Growing edible crops in small spaces

Fitzrovia News

Perhaps it is no wonder that St Valentine’s Day has become a celebration for lovers. In London it is the day when we finally have ten hours of daylight. Contrary to popular belief it is day length, and not temperature, that will trigger most plants into spring growth.

American land cress in box. American land cress needs loads of water, but will grow in low light levels. It has a spicy flavour like watercress, but unlike watercress it doesn’t need running water to thrive. Photo: Wendy Shillam, Rooftopvegplot.

We get very few frosts here in Fitzrovia. If you have a sunny windowsill, think Mediterranean – try red basil, rocket, even a few tomatoes (which can be started off this month inside). But if your space doesn’t get sunshine you can still grow leaves like lettuces, mint, American land cress and red mustard.

Don’t bother to buy special seed trays or pots. Your plants will soon…

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8 Historic London Shopfronts

Heritage Calling

London streets are lined with colourful shops, clamouring for our attention. Many are of considerable age, and have survived for our enjoyment only through careful maintenance by generations of shopkeepers.

Kathryn Morrison, Head of Historic Places Investigation, selects eight shopfronts that can be appreciated by anyone strolling along the pavements of London, and offer a glimpse into the city’s rich history as one of the world’s most exciting shopping centres. Presented chronologically, these shopfronts show how our shopping streets have changed over the centuries.

Raven Row, 56 Artillery Lane, London E1

cc73_02751.tif No.56 Artillery Lane in Spitalfields will be unknown to many seasoned London shoppers. It lies far from the West End, in a warren of small streets and passages that evoke Dickensian London despite the proximity of Liverpool Street Station. Now an art exhibition centre, this building was probably erected in the 1720s for a Huguenot silk merchant. Around 1756…

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