The Small Holdings

Forest Town

By Pauline Marples

100 Years

Photo:Small Holding taken 1969

Small Holding taken 1969

A & J Gascoyne

This year 2012 it will be 100 years since the Small Holdings were built in Forest Town, yet many people will be totally oblivious of them or there origin.

First we should be aware of a brief history of Small Holdings going back to early allotments and the Enclosure Act's in the 1800's -one of the web sites this can be found on is ›Articles.

We may also ask what the definition of a Small Holding is and one suggestion is that it is ' an area of land bigger than a garden and smaller than a farm, used for productive agriculture or forestry.' see

Act of1908

In the early days of Forest Town (which until 1936 came the Parish of Mansfield Woodhouse)  the Small Holding and Allotment Act was being considered. In 1908 the Small Holdings and Allotments Acts imposed responsibilities on parish, urban district and borough councils to provide allotments. › Articles.

Photo:Sandersons Map 1835 - 25 Miles round Mansfield

Sandersons Map 1835 - 25 Miles round Mansfield


One of the earliest mentions of the Small Holdings is newspaper report of the Mansfield Woodhouse Council Meeting in November 1911, when plans were submitted for 'Eight cottages proposed to be built on Old Mill Lane, Mansfield Woodhouse for the Mansfield Woodhouse Small Holdings Society. It was resolved the plans be approved.'


Documents in the Portland Papers held at Nottingham University relating to the conveyance  of land for the Small Holdings quote the fuller title and address as Mansfield Woodhouse Co-operative Small Holdings Society and Allotments Society Ltd of 159 Sherwood Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire.   

Sale not rental

It appears that often the use of land for Small Holdings was normally done on a rental basis but to quote from

'The Mansfield Woodhouse (Notts) Small Holdings Society has gone still further than land renting, having bought from the Duke of Portland 40 acres of land for division among eight of its members, each of whom gets five acres and a house, the payments to extend over a period of 35 years.

The members in question are at present mostly engaged in mining, and their idea is to cultivate their holdings with assistance in their leisure time, raising potatoes, barley, oats, parsnips and market garden produce generally, together with poultry and pigs, for sale among the Duke's tenants' and eventually depending altogether on their holdings for a livelihood.'

Oral History

Who built the eight Small Holdings is so far unknown but it has been suggested that Mr Cantrill was instrumental in the design of them. The first occupiers were recalled by Ernie Morris who I interviewed on 27th May 1988. Ernie moved with his parents to the Small Holdings when he was a few months old in 1912. He was one of at least 8 children.

Photo:Oral History transcript

Oral History transcript


It is noted that Old Mill Lane, despite being this on very early maps is remembered as Sheepwash Lane, indeed it is given as Sheepwash Lane on the conveyance documents. It was also refered to as Woodhouse Lane.

Land Tax - circa 1913

The Land Tax describes each of the Small Holdings as a Brick & Slate house with a scullery hot and cold water on sink, living room, parlour, larder, 2 bedrooms, cellar, small bedroom, bathroom. Out side there was a W.C. and a range of wooden buildings such as pig sties and loose box. Each had 5 acres of land.


Mr Gibson (in 1995) recalled that implements provided for the small holders consisted of a two wheeled heavy working cart, a four wheeled dray, harrows, and a plough with double and single shear. Fruit trees were also given.

Early Photo

The earliest known picture of the Small Holdings was taken by Shadrach Osler, Postmaster at Forest Town. Taken around 1915 near the top of Old Mill Lane as we know it today, we get a feel of life when for most people, cycling, walking or horses were the mode of transport. 'Hos muck' can be seen on the road. 

Photo:Woodhouse Lane (Old Mill Lane - showing two of the Small Holdings. From post card posted 1915

Woodhouse Lane (Old Mill Lane - showing two of the Small Holdings. From post card posted 1915

In the early years there would have been extensive open views all around these properties. A hint of this can be seen from these photographs taken around 1969 from the highest small holding in this area.

Photo:Small holding land circa 1969

Small holding land circa 1969

A & J Gascoyne

Photo:View from Small Holding circa 1969

View from Small Holding circa 1969

A & J Gascoyne

When the origional tenants of the small holdings died, such as John Morrris in 1933 the ownership was handed down to eight decendants and the land was divided between them. This could have changed the use of the land.

It was possibly around the late 1960's when the biggest changes came and housing developments sprang up on land along Old Mill Lane in the area of the Small Holdings. I believe Barratts were the first with the 'Forest Barn Estate' and then 'The Chestnuts' the latter being on land which was once part of the Small Holding owned by Mr King, then Mr J Sellors. Three streets were built on 'The Chestnuts', Elmhurst Road, Sandycliffe Road and Oakridge Close.

At least two of the Small Holdings took on new ventures. Arbour Animal Accomodation catered for a wide variety of animals such as dogs, cats, rabbits, goats etc. This property was situated away from Old Mill Lane and was reached by a track/road.

Photo:Sign on Old Mill Lane for Arbour Animal Accomodation - one of the Small Holdings

Sign on Old Mill Lane for Arbour Animal Accomodation - one of the Small Holdings

A & J Gascoyne

Bordering on Old Mill Lane was the property that became Three Thorne Boarding Kennels and Cattery. Oral History decrees that Ron Moon who lived there, also at one time kept Mink, and then Rabbits. The property still had plenty of land then, this was eventually sold off and is now a large housing estate.

Photo:small Holding that became know as Threethorne Kennels & Cattery - March 1998

small Holding that became know as Threethorne Kennels & Cattery - March 1998

P Marples

With close observation some of the remaining Small Holding houses can be discovered today [2012], lived in and well looked after by theri tenants. How many of them realise what an important and interesting part of Forest Town's history these properties are?

However the property below has changed beyond recognition, luckily it was photographed in March 1998 and as such remains part of our local heritage.

Photo:Small Holding on Old Mill Lane, taken March 1989 no longer evident

Small Holding on Old Mill Lane, taken March 1989 no longer evident

P Marples


With acknowledgement to Jill Gascoyne for her interest in the Small Holdings, her loan of some photogrpahs and documents.


This page was added on 14/02/2012.
Comments about this page

Well, quite interesting indeed, the number of times I passed along Old Mill Lane in the late 60's / early 70's and never wondered about the uniform well spaced properties!

By Berisford Jones
On 17/02/2012

My friend when I was at Garibaldi School, lived at (going from memory) No 2 Smallholdings - their name was Fisher - Keith, Betty and Lynn - my friend. This was between 1960 - 64. At that time on the other side of the lane (no 1?) lived Alan Callaghan of The Bouquet Florist in Mansfield. He had large greenhouses in front of the property. I used to go down there to Lynn's and we would play in the field leading down to the rocks, where there was a cave to sit in.

By tedgrav
On 26/02/2012

My Great Aunt Alice Booth ran a chicken farm at a smallholding known as Hillcrest. I spent many happy hours in the school holidays there, while staying with my nana Webster and aunt Mary at Burns Ave.

By marguerite webster
On 24/03/2012

My mother, Joyce Morris (born 1920) used to talk about her grandfather collecting pig swill, when she was a child. I think his name was Tom Morris, but he had a brother John, who could be the resident of number 8. They were all miners. I think this site is amazing.

By Irene Cooper
On 24/03/2012

Mansfield Woodhouse UDC minutes, 1921. p.369 Mr Henry Booth of no.8 smallholding, Old Mill Lane cautioned for killing a pig on unlicensed premises, he later tried to obtain the necessary licence but was refused. Was this the same Mr Booth who was electrocuted on his pig farm in the 1950s?

By Tom Shead
On 20/05/2012

My Great Uncle Henry Booth was electrocuted in his pigstye. Dont know about the other business. My Great Aunt Alice, his widow carried on the smallholding with her daughter Phyllis.

By marguerite roberts
On 04/06/2012

I am sure my grandmother, Evelyn Morris lived on the small holdings before marrying my grandfather Edward Davidson. I would like to find out more if anybody has any information.

By Neil Davidson
On 03/04/2013

Was the 3rd picture down taken from where the housing estate is now, Heatherly Drive looking onto where ASDA is now? My mother and father live in a house that backs onto  big old White House, the old lady that lived in the house owned all the land where all the houses are built including the school and area where the kennels used too be.

By Tom Salmon
On 16/02/2016

Wanted any info relating to 'Mansfield Woodhouse Garden Holders Association

By Philip Cooper
On 21/09/2016

My great grandfather Francis Morgan, a coal miner, lived at 71 Sheepwash Lane, now Old Mill Lane, in 1911 with his wife and 6 children. They had previously lived at 1 Rose Lane.

By R Smith
On 02/10/2016

MR R SMITH, it seems were related, my great grandfather was Francis Morgan same address, 1901 census as 1 Rose Lane. My grandmother was Mary Ann Morgan married Albert Clark, found Sheep Wash Lane in records.  (1911 census).

By dorcas pawelski
On 17/02/2017