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Looking back: A need to be green with busy allotments
The notion of the allotment in Brighton has its beginnings at the time of increasing industrialisation and a population shift to urban environments.
This arose both from a desire to enable the urban working classes to feed themselves cheaply, and to keep the ‘poor’ from more sociallydestructive activities.
In 1916, The Cultivation of Land Orders Act was passed giving local councils legal obligation and powers to take over waste land and create allotments.
Throughout the years the city has seen more interest in allotments due to increasing concerns about diet, health and the environment.
It seems the upsurge in interest is limited by capacity though.
This lack of space for allotments has led to protests over the years. In 2000 more than 100 people blocked a road to protest against plans to build homes on a railway allotment site.
They then formed a human chain along the fence of the threatened site in Highcroft Villas.
The protesters presented a petition with 1,134 names to Brighton Pavilion MP David Lepper.
In 2009 The Argus documented an eco-warriors battle to live on a hilltop allotment and use a meditation cave built there.
Hilaire Purbrick, 45, was evicted from the grow-your-own land in June after a judge granted the council a possession order from the site at Whitehawk Hill.
He was also banned indefinitely from returning to the allotments, where he had lived for 16 years.
The court was told how Mr Purbrick dug a two metre wide cave on one of the 12 plots he occupied with other commune members who live in sheds and caravans on the site.
They used the cave, at the bottom of a 20 foot shaft, as a meditation chamber until the council won an injunction banning them because the cave had no fire exit.
Judge Jonathan Simpkiss said: “The council considers that this was a danger to life.
“They have a responsibility to the public and particularly to children who might have had a serious accident or have been killed if they entered this cave.
“It does not take much imagination to see the public outcry that would have arisen had the council not taken these steps and children had subsequently been trapped or buried in this cave had it collapsed.”
Mr Purbrick gave away many of the plants and vegetables he grew over the years and put some of the commune’s possessions on eBay.
He said: “Some of the handmade geometrical shapes have gone on eBay today and there will be other things including caravans to come.”
The waiting lists indicate that people are still keen to be green, so hopefully land will become free for budding green-fingered residents as soon as possible.
ON THIS DAY
1913: Completion of the Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary.
1954: The first issue of Sports Illustrated is published.
1989: A solar flare from the Sun creates a geomagnetic storm that affects microchips, leading to a halt of all trading on Toronto's stock market.
2008: The Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago is topped off at 1,389 feet (423 m), at the time becoming the world's highest residence above ground level.
1819: Peterloo Massacre: Seventeen people die and over 600 are injured in cavalry charges at a public meeting at St. Peter's Field, Manchester, England.
1960: Cyprus gains its independence from the United Kingdom.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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