Sunday, 26 October 2008

Heartbreak Hill

Made a visit to the site of Heartbreak Hill, an allotment scheme created for unemployed ironstone miners just outside the village of Boosbeck. It was set up in the 1930s by Rolf Gardiner (see postings below) At this time, unemployment in this area was even higher than in other areas of the norht-east such as Jarrow Land was given for the allotments by Colonel William Wharton, owner of Skelton Castle. Students were brought in to help clear the land of roots and stones. This student element and the artistic / utopian ideals of Gardiner meant that there was also a strong artistic element including operas (one of the volunteer students was the composer Sir Michael Tippett), folk music and dancing. The allotments are still there; unlike many municipal allotments, the plots are clearly marked with fences and boundaries and many are still in use. Also plenty of livestock, including chickens, pigeons and a goat. Not clear how many, if any, of the sheds and pigeonlofts are original, though I spotted at least one re-used Anderson Shelter.

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