Archives and collections that document the history of the LSA are housed at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, UK.
The Land Settlement Association (“the LSA”), a government-supported initiative, was founded in 1934 at the height of the depression under the auspices of the Society of Friends and the Carnegie Trust. It was established “to carry out an experimental scheme, with financial assistance from the Government, for the provision of rural small-holdings for unemployed persons from the industrialised cities”.
The initial programme was for provision of some 2000 smallholdings throughout England and Wales. The holdings ranged from 5 to 10 acres, the small ones for horticulture and the larger ones for livestock, particularly pigs. By 1938 it had 25 estates of which 20 had been developed containing 1031 let holdings in total. A further 75 were retained for propagating. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the policy changed to accommodate the need for intensive food production and only tenants with agricultural experience were taken on. Thus, by the end of the War the LSA had become more of a co-operative with co-ordinated skilled production and marketing.
In 1947 the Association came under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and, following various reports on the viability of the Association, it was decided that the scheme should be concentrated on horticulture; pig production was phased out. A further review in the early 1970s concluded that it should concentrate on intensive horticultural production, mainly of salad crops for the large supermarkets.
In the early 1980s, following yet another review, the smallholdings were privatised and the LSA’s residual centralised assets were sold, the proceeds being appointed to the LSA Charitable Trust as it is today.
LSA settlements were established at:
- Abbotts Ann
- The Abingtons
- Fen Drayton
- Low Fulney
- Wyboston, Chawton and Colesden