New wildlife hub opens to mark 100 year anniversary of Preston allotments

Green-fingered plot holders were finally able to mark the 100 year anniversary of a Preston allotment site at the weekend, after Covid postponed their 2020 centenary celebrations.

Gardeners from the Serpentine 3 allotments on Blackpool Road, celebrated on Saturday, September 11, with the official opening of a brand-new wildlife garden on a piece of derelict land close to the site entrance.

Serpentine 3 has around 78 allotment holders and following a meeting of the allotment association around five years ago, to discuss the piece of 'swamp' land, it was decided that a communal garden should be created to mark the site’s centenary in 2020.

But with Covid-19 and lockdown putting a stop to the 100-year anniversary celebrations, allotment holders rescheduled the opening of the wildlife garden, and it was officially commemorated on Saturday.

Steven Smith allotment officer at Preston City Council cutting the ribbon and officially opening the wildlife garden

Allotment officer at Preston City Council, Steven Smith, said: “About five or six years ago we had a meeting with the new allotment association at Serpentine 3, and since then this site has gone from strength to strength.

“This garden is an emblem of that change – it was a swamp before and was full of rubbish and just didn’t look like the sort thing you wanted to be greeted by when entering the site.

“The council has supported the group right through the project and over the last two or three years, the progress has been amazing.

“The history of this site goes back 100 years and I want to thank Steve Robson for digging back through the archives and creating a timeline of notable dates.

Plot holders and their families and friends at the official opening of the Serpentine 3 wildlife garden

“This couldn’t have been done without the efforts of all the plot holders and the association here at Serpentine 3 – and the mosaic sign, well, that’s just amazing and I wish all the allotment sites could have something like that.”

Serpentine 3 is one of four sites in the area (along with Serpentine 1, 2 and the Deepdale site), which has been used by gardeners for the last 100 years.

Originally located across the road on Moor Park, as part of the ‘dig for victory’ scheme during World War One, allotment holders were forced to move just after the war and have been at their current site since 1920.

One hundred years ago it cost just six shillings a year for a 250sq yd plot – about 30p in today’s money.

All the pieces of the new mosaic have come from the allotments and were found while planting or digging

Plot holder Carl Farnworth said: “After not being able to mark the official centenary last year, it feels great to finally be able to open the garden and commemorate 100 years of these allotments.

“I’m extremely impressed with what we’ve been able to achieve over the last few years - we’ve reconstructed the land that no-one could do anything with, and it looks incredible.

“A mosaic sign has been made using pieces of pottery found on site, and we think it demonstrates all the hard work each and every one of us has put into this project.”

More information about the allotments can be found on the community Facebook page.

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