Ordinance survey map circa 1938
The Story of Ash Road Allotments
The land on which the Allotments sit originally belonged to Kirkstall Abbey many centuries ago. Following the dissolution of the Monasteries and Abbeys by Henry VIII private families held the land. About 120 acres of land (including the current allotment site) was known as ‘Delph Hill’, with a former Monastic Grange as the main farm ‘house’. By the 19th Century this was re-named as Kirkstall Grange and occupied by the Beckett Family, a wealthy local banking family who became politicians and later had the title ‘Lord Grimthorpe’. The Grange house can still be seen today and is the ‘old palladian style house’ on the Beckett University campus. One of the ‘carriageways’ to Kirkstall Grange entered the estate through a lodge at the junction of Kirkstall Lane/St Ann’s Lane (where Queenswood Drive now cuts through) and passed through Batcliffe Wood (just to the west of the allotments).
By the early 20th Century the 2nd Baron Grimthorpe had lost most of the family wealth and Kirkstall Grange and the estate was sold in various stages to Leeds Corporation. In due course part of the estate became the campus of the Leeds Training College (what now has become the Headingley Campus of Beckett University) and part was used for housing, the last phase of which was the Queenswood Road housing estate from the 1950s onwards. A small portion of the land became Ash Road Allotments.
Legislation from Victorian times aimed to provide the urban poor with small plots of land to grow food, although it was not until 1908 that Councils were required to provide allotments. The first record of our site being used as allotments was in 1922, when part of the site was allocated by the City Council, with more added in 1927 (in compensation for the closure of the Banks Field Allotments in Burley) and the final section added in 1939. By this date the full nine acres (3.6 hectares) of the present site was completed. In that sense our allotments pre-date the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign that started on the outbreak of the Second World War and which almost doubled the number of allotments across the country. The site has remained in allotment use ever since. The land on which the allotments stand is owned by the City Council but since 1980 the site is self-administered and managed through the Ash Road Allotment Association.