RESIDENTS, allotment holders and parish councillors will this weekend (August 5/6) celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cross Hills and District Allotments Association.

A celebratory plaque commemorating the buying of land for the allotments in January, 1923, by the Town End Close Allotments Association, will be unveiled, there will be guided tours of the plots and gardening-related items and vegetables to buy.

The site was in use as allotments by the society while it accumulated the funds to make the purchase and has been in continuous use for more than a hundred years. It is now hoped the land will once again come back to community ownership after it was bought by the district council in the 1970s.

The weekend's celebration, which has been organised to coincide with the start of the National Allotments Week, will also include a number of competitions for allotment holders, including Royal- themed scarecrows made from up-cycled materials.

The plaque is being presented by Glusburn and Cross Hills Parish Council to the allotment association and will be unveiled on Saturday by parish council chair, Councillor Mike Ashdown.

There will also be an exhibition on the history of the allotments organised by Margaret Adams and put together by volunteers from the allotments with display items donated by members of the parish and also from Sutton-in -Craven. The exhibition is being hosted by Glusburn Institute during August and September.

Members of the allotments got together just before the Coronation of King Charles III to clear a small overgrown area at the allotments and have turned it into a nature garden.

The area, next to the beck between the allotments and Glusburn infant school is in the shade of the trees from the Millennium garden in Glusburn school. The beck is a natural wildlife corridor, so supplementing this with wildflower planting will increase the biodiversity in the area.

Later this year the 1st Kildwick and Farnhill Scouts Group will build a large bug house. It will follow an earlier visit from the beavers to the plot of Paul Higson where they took part in planting onions, peas, beetroot, sweet corn and cabbage.

They also planted an onion to take home, and learnt about safety with garden tools and what plants need to grow. By doing all this they achieved their gardening activity badge as well as working towards their safety activity badge and outdoor challenge badge.

Another group visited Christina Fletcher's plot, looking at where their food comes from, growing food, enjoying nature, how allotments provide a safe space outdoors, and discussing what makes a community.They also enjoyed planting seeds and spotting wildlife around the plot. The girls are working on their Community Badge.

Recently, the association has applied to North Yorkshire Council to have the site recognised as an asset of community value; if approved, it could give it the opportunity to raise funds to buy the land, if the council decides to sell it.

Ian Gibson, secretary of the Cross Hills and District Allotments Association, said: "The site has been serving the community for more than 100 years providing space to grow produce during the great depression of the 1930’s, the Second World War, and more recently through the Covid pandemic and the current financial difficulties.

"Families have found solace away from those challenges, aiding their mental health, sustaining physical well being and bringing the community together. The space has also been used for educational activities with Glusburn School and local groups. The allotment provides a wealth of biodiversity helping to sustain wildlife while providing produce to families with no air miles attached."

The land where the allotments are was owned by the Ackroyd family during the 1800’s and on the demise of all the members - John William Ackroyd, George Ackroyd and Richard Brigg Ackroyd - the land was offered for sale to the Town End Close Allotment Association Ltd and purchased in January 1923 for £ 1,875.

Mr Gibson said: "Clearly the Town End Close Allotment Association Ltd had been in existence for some time in order to have accumulated the funds to make the purchase. Whilst records haven’t been found, it is likely they leased the land prior to the purchase.

"In the early 1970s the then Craven District Council acquired the land which was now commonly known as Town End Allotments from the association. A lease granted by the council to the association in 1975 bears reference to the original association.

"Leases continued to be granted directly to the associations until 2007. After this point the legal structure under which the land was held, was changed from the Allotment Act to the Housing Act. This therefore required the lease to be offered to the parish council as all servicing requirements would be passed over at the same time. This current lease expires in 2027."

The council released several parts of the original land purchased by the association. The Town Nursing home and sheltered housing complex were built in the late 1970s and 80s.

In February 2023, administration of the land was passed over to North Yorkshire Council believed to be the only allotment site in Craven to be handed over by the district council, all other allotment sites in Craven District had previously been handed to the respective parishes and towns in accordance with the Act of 1972.

The North Yorkshire Council Charter supports the offering of allotments to parish councils and will be pursued by Glusburn and Cross Hills Parish Council.

The allotments will be open to the public to have guided tours from 10am until 2pm on Saturday and from 2pm until 4pm on Sunday. Visitors need to be aware, there is no parking at the allotments.