1918: Cultivation of the Canal

Fromthe Swindon Advertiser, 5th July 1918

The Canal Committee reported that they had received a petition from the tenants of Nos 66. to 86. Cheltenham Street, asking to be allowed to cultivate that portion of the canal which has been filled in, adjoining the gardens at the rear of their respective premises, and also asking for a fence to be erected along the canal towing path to enclose the land.

It was resolved:

(1) That the land be let to the occupiers of the respective houses for cultivation at a rent of 2s per plot per annum, the land to be let rent free up to March 25th next.

(2) That it be an instruction to the Borough Surveyor to erect a fence at an estimated cost of £6 to enclose the land, leaving sufficient land to make the canal towing path 10ft wide at that point.

Councillor Burson: You are not only going to let them have this land for nothing, but you intend to fence it for them. Is it right that the ratepayers should be called upon to find this money? I move that this go back for re-consideration and for a more business-like proposal. It is very unjust.

Councillor Gilbert seconded. He preferred keeping it as an open space. Open spaces were very much needed in this vicinity and would be a great improvement.

Councillor Powell said that when they went in for their housing and planning scheme they would largely have to subsidise. If these people were going to cultivate that land they would be rendering a service to the community.

Councillor R. George supported Councillor Burson's amendment, and on the lines laid down by the ex-Mayor. They had a chance now of saving for the town land right in the centre, and land that could be made of some good to the town. What better could they have than a beauty spot there? In every way that ground might be utilised for the benefit of the town. If they did as they proposed to do another generation would condemn them. Once they allowed these people to get upon that land they would want to be recompensed for the labour and improvement they put into it, and it would only be a matter of right to. They had now a chance right in the centre of Bridge Street, Milton Street, and Fleet Street of beautifying the town. They would never regret an effort to save that land for the people. He pleaded with them to stand by the town, and they would never regret giving to Swindon a beauty spot that would save her from the ridiculous position in which the jerry builder had placed her in the past.

Councillor Evens supported the Committee.

The amendment was defeated and the recommendation of the Committee adopted.