This area of Kempshott was created from 19th-century farmland just before the First World War, in 1910 -14. Originally part of Down Grange Farm for 120 years, the long agricultural depression of the last quarter of the 19th century made it increasingly attractive to convert land relatively close to small towns in northern Hampshire into homestead areas. The land was relatively cheap, urban services and employment were only a few miles away in Basingstoke and there were many people who dreamed of having their own smallholding to be at least partly self-sufficient, or to produce enough horticultural or farming produce for sale to semi-retire. This was part of the Homestead Movement.
Plots of land along Pack Lane were offered for sale – 50 feet wide and 400 feet long – on which a modest bungalow could be built and a semi-rural life could be enjoyed. There were no utilities available at that time – neither piped water, sewerage, fuel other than coal or wood, electricity or telephone in the area. Most of those setting up here planned to have a market garden, an orchard or raise poultry for eggs which would help to feed the family and could be sold locally in the Basingstoke area to supplement earnings from either employment in Basingstoke or a small pension. Those with an ambition to farm could also buy additional tracts of land beyond the 400 foot long plots to raise more poultry or tend more orchards.
The war halted growth for 5 years but by 1920 the number of smallholders in Kempshott was growing again – down Kempshott Lane and Homesteads Road. In the inter-war period, the egg production industry expanded hugely in Kempshott, such that when World War 2 broke out Kempshott would become a major egg production centre throughout the war. In the early 1950s fowl pest outbreaks hit local poultry farms badly and many smaller egg producers closed down as the owners reached retirement age and did not choose to restock and carry on. Between 1927 and 1960 all the normal urban utilities had reached Kempshott – piped water, electricity, telephone, sewerage and finally gas. In the late 1950s, the expansion of Basingstoke brought the edge of urban development nearer and nearer to Kempshott with the Berg Estate being developed in 1956-58.
The final transformation was the development of Basingstoke’s outer suburbs with the great housing estates of the 1960s and 1970s and a long period of infilling of smaller green spaces in the 1980s and 1990s until Kempshott became an integral part of the town as we know it now. The smallholdings and poultry farms were converted to Roads, Closes, and Drives surrounding the few original houses that remained. Here and there a small green patch was left – sometimes for no discernible reason – one such is the Old Orchard, Kendal Gardens. Surrounded on 3 sides by houses and facing the Kendal Gardens apartments, this small space is accessed from the footpath between Kendal Gardens and Derwent Road. The amenity grass is there for children to play on, but beyond the first line of mature oaks and cherry trees lies a hidden gem, walk-in and discover….a wildlife conservation area – The Old Orchard.