Smitham Allotments Society is a self-managed site in Chipstead Valley in the south of the London Borough of Croydon. The land for the site was donated to the people of Coulsdon by the landowner in 1908 and so fruit and vegetables have now been grown on the 30 plots there for over a century.
It is a relatively small site, and therefore a friendly community of gardeners. It lies on a south facing slope between the houses on Chipstead Valley Road and the Tattenham Corner railway line. The soil is a sandy loam on chalk so drainage is good but the soil is hungry. We can grow almost anything, provided the soil is kept moist and is frequently manured. All root vegetables do well and asparagus absolutely loves it. Most fruits do well apart from those that require acid, such as blueberries and whitecurrants. The aspect enables us to grow the more tender sun-loving plants such as vines, artichokes, aubergines and peppers but we are in a notorious frost pocket and can experience frosts into the first week in June!
The site is managed by a committee consisting of five members elected at the Annual General Meeting:
Chairman: Ramon Farooki
Secretary: Andy Sparkes
Treasurer: Ann Shore
Website: Graham Lovegrove
Like most allotment societies today, there is a waiting list but the sooner you register the sooner you will be allocated a plot. The current letting fee is £40 per annum.
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Early in the 19th century, a local farmer, Mr Tucker, sold his land to Cane Hill Authorities so that the hospital could be built. This action displaced local people from the land where they had grown their own produce. Mr Tucker had two daughters, one of whom is described as a religious lady.
In 1908, she compensated the people of Coulsdon, by giving a plot of land now called “Smitham Allotment” to the Parish to be held in perpetuity. At this time other land was also given to local churches.
The Coulsdon & Purley Council arranged for the supply of water to the site. The First World War started and records show that a Miss Halls of the Vacant Land Society arranged for the allotment to be transferred to the Council. Subsequently in 1923 the land was registered under The Lloyd George Allotment Act 1920.
For the next 60 years the land continued to be worked as season followed season, until in 1982 an article was published by the Coulsdon & Purley Advertiser, “Allotments Fall Vacant as the Good Life Falls”. The article suggested that the site would be closed. Local people believed the Council would develop the land.
A fierce battle ensued, led by a plot holder, Mr Taylor. The Council were unable to find the original deeds relating to Miss Tucker’s wishes. However, Mr Taylor’s solicitor discovered the deeds in the Council archives, and the future of the allotments was secured.
In 1984 Smitham Allotment plot holders took out a lease with Croydon Council granting them the authority to manage the site.
South Croydon Allotment Society
Croydon Council Allotments