During WW1 it was the role of the County War Agricultural Committee to ensure that all farming land was being fully utilised for food production. At the time members of the Committee visited Oaklands Farm, the tenant farmer, Mr William Moores, was also responsible for Beaumonts Farm. The committee noted that one field at Beaumonts had been left as pasture and with no evidence that it was being grazed. It requested that Mr Moores plough it for a wheat crop.
Mr Moores was puzzled because the 8-acre field in question and named as Fleetville Meadow was not part of his farm. However, Mr Moores did admit that one of his fields, also of 8 acres and numbered 821 (on the 1898 OS map), is also a meadow. He had been trying to plough this meadow for the past four years, but "the people of Fleetville have made it a regular playground."
|Home Meadow was to the left of this picture of|
The other fascinating piece of information lies in Mr Moore's reply. "The people of Fleetville have made it a regular playground." The Fleetville Recreation Ground had been donated to the city in 1913 by Mr Charles Woollam, but inevitably nothing was done to improve this stub of a field straight away. Indeed, one or two residents proposed that the council plough it up for residents to tend as allotments. Before the war, and possibly for some time after, part of 12-acre field, opposite Nicholson's in Sutton Road, was used as a football field. A pasture, Home Meadow, right on the edge of the built-up area, was inevitably going to be an attractive playground for local children and families. Clearly it was popular if Mr Moores regularly found himself unable to plough it – and he doesn't appear to be making an excuse.
Home Meadow therefore is revealed as a previously unrecorded public open space for the inhabitants of the eastern districts on both sides of Hatfield Road. A fact which has only come to light because of a mistake made by a committee, and which required a written response from the accused farmer – and, of course, the diligence of a researcher in passing on what had been discovered.