The Case of the Westover Turbary Allotments
in the County of Hampshire
(Transcribed from a pamphlet printed in February 1897)
In 1805, pursuant to an Inclosure Act passed in 1802 (42, Geo. III., c. 43), a large tract of waste land situate in the Parishes of Christchurch and Holdenhurst (now in the Parishes of Bournemouth, Winton, Holdenhurst, Pokesdown, and Southbourne) was directed to be inclosed, and was allotted.
Allotments were made for supplying gravel for the roads, in lieu of tithes, to the Lord of the Manor in respect of his interest in the soil, and five allotments, comprising about 450 acres, numbered respectively 58, 59, 60, 61 and 62, were allotted to the Lord of the Manor in trust, to permit the occupiers of certain premises named in the Schedule to the Award to cut turf for fuel in their houses, under certain restrictions, this being declared to be a provision for ever in lieu of their right, or pretended right, of cutting fuel on the great waste, and this was the only compensation made to the owners and occupiers of the cottages for the extinction of their rights. It was expressly forbidden to depasture or use the land otherwise than as a turf delph.
The lands thus allotted were of very small value at the time of the allotment, but in consequence of the rise of Bournemouth the value has enormously increased, but of course such value cannot be realized, inasmuch as the soil itself belongs to the Lord of the Manor, the Trustee, and all use of the surface to the occupiers of the scheduled premises. Some portions of the land have been sold for railway purposes.
By an Act of Parliament passed in the 52nd and 53rd year of Her present Majesty, called the Bournemouth Park Lands Act, 1889, Allotment No. 62 [Meyrick Park], containing 126a. 2r. l6p. has been appropriated, with the assistance of the Lord of the Manor (a chief owner of property at Bournemouth), to the purposes of a recreation ground for Bournemouth; and by the same Act, and one passed in the 54th and 55th year of Her present Majesty, called the Bournemouth East Cemetery Act, 1891, the greater part of the Allotment No. 59 [King's Park] (101a. 1r. 4p) has also been subjected to rights exercisable by the Bournemouth Town Council, and destructive of the uses for which the Allotments were originally made, and of the interests of the occupiers of the tenements in the schedule to the Act of 1802.
There remain 3 Allotments, one, No. 60 [Queen's Park], containing 147a. 2r. l0p., at Great Dean ; one, No. 61 [Redhill Common], containing 45a. 3r. 2p., at Redhill; and one, No. 58 [Seafield Gardens], containing 3a. 3r. 3p., at Southbourne.
A Bill is now before Parliament promoted, it is said, by the Lord of the Manor [Sir George Meyrick], to appropriating the whole residue of these Turbary Allotments, subject to some small provision for compensation to the tenement occupiers and also to some provision for recreation grounds.
The value of the 5 Allotments at the present time is believed to be not less than £400,000, and that the project for which it is now sought to obtain Parliamentary powers would give one half of this value to the Lord of the Manor (the Trustee) assign a large portion for public recreation grounds, and leave a small residue to be administered for the benefit of the objects of the Charity by the Bournemouth Town Council, a body which has no interest in the maintenance of the Charity.
It is submitted that the public and the Charity would be best served by the rejection of the bill, by the maintenance of the lands in a wild unenclosed state, open to the public for exercise and recreation, and to the raising of a moderate revenue to supply the fuel wants of the objects of the Charity.
The principle of valuation which has hitherto been adopted has been to assume that this land is valueless to the objects of the Charity, because their only mode of enjoyment is the removal of the surface turf, but it is submitted that the value of the Lord of the Manorís interest in it is simply the value of land, the surface of which he cannot touch, and that if, by an alteration of the conditions the land is made more valuable, a proportion of the increased value should accrue to the benefit of the objects of the Charity and not go entirely to the Trustee, who ought from the first to have cared for the interests and maintained the rights of the objects of the Charity.
It is therefore hoped that the Bill will be rejected.
Note: The Bill was indeed rejected, paving the way for the acquisition by Bournemouth Corporation of the remaining commons in 1900 under the Bournemouth Corporation Act 1900.
Stephen Gadd, July 2003