Monday, November 12, 2012

Allotments in Nairn 1769 - a call for land - just like demand for plots today?

One of our regular readers spotted the following on pages 591/2 of George Bain's History of Nairnshire. The book is available for free download here. 

An experiment in land cultivation in connection with the  Burgh of Nairn is interesting from its economic results. A  movement originated amongst the townspeople about the year 1769 for allotments of land. A Trades Society was  formed and an application was made to the Council for a  long lease of " the uncultivated moorish ground belonging to  the community lying to the west of the Auldton Burn or  strype that runs down from the Moss of Nairn."
A few years later the Council granted a lease of about 141 Scots
acres for a term of five nineteen years at an annual rent of £5  sterling for the first nineteen years, £10 for the second  nineteen, £15 for the third, £20 for the fourth, and £25 for  the fifth and last nineteen years. The experiment was only  a very partial success. The lands were brought under  cultivation, but, with one or two exceptions, the houses  erected (which fell to the town on expiry of the lease) were  miserably poor. The land was starved towards the close of  the lease. The Trades Society had virtually become defunct,
but its treasurer managed to gather the amount of rent from  sub-tenants. In 1889 the lease expired, and the Town  Council resumed possession of its property. A new scheme  was started. The lands were disposed of, along with such  houses as existed, as perpetual feus, to the highest bidder at  a public sale on the ground, the purchaser having the option  of redeeming one-half the capitalised feu-duty, or of erecting  sufficient buildings in security. The former course generally  was adopted. The effect has been most satisfactory. The
best land was taken up, comfortable cottages erected, the land  is well laboured, and an industrious community has settled  upon it. The average feu-duty was about £4 an acre, half  of which was commuted by capital payment. Not a single  feuar has failed, although there have been a good many  changes amongst the tenants who rented the ground not feued. Market gardening and the letting of the cottages as  summer quarters has no doubt aided the experiment, but  so far as it has gone it has demonstrated the superiority of
feuing over leasing.

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