These two areas are good examples of re-greening initiatives, and attempts to improve biodiversity, within cities.

Trap Grounds Allotments

As with many other allotments, the site was used as a municipal refuse tip prior to the 1914-1918 war, and part of the site was still used for this purpose in the 1950s. Garden soil was then brought in horse-drawn carts from various places in Oxford to cap the tip, but the ground still contains scraps of debris and associated pollutants typical of urban soils.

There are currently around 180 plots and half-plots on the site. A standard plot traditionally being 11 ‘poles’, a unit of length of exactly ​5 12 yards. There is no mains water on the site but there are a number of 2-3m deep wells.

Burgess Field

Burgess Field was the City Council open landfill site until the early 1980s, which explains why it stands higher than the neighbouring Trap Grounds allotments and Port Meadow itself. When it was closed, a clay cap was put in place and the area was roughly landscaped and partially planted with trees and hedges in the 1990s. The trees were carefully chosen to encourage wildlife, have since flourished, and now form the tall hedges that in 2019 have begun to be “lain down” ( ) by volunteers to provide better cover for nesting birds.


The High Speed train line heading north out of Oxford passes beside the Trap Grounds Allotments and Burgess Field Nature Reserve. Until the line was upgraded, pedestrians wanting to access these (and Port Meadow adjacent to them) had to cross the line using a wooden sleeper based crossing. When someone narrowly escaped death, the authorities got on with the creation of a large pedestrian bridge across the lines with a substantial perpendicular bridge exclusively for the use of the allotment users.

All told, the two developments are good illustrations of re-greening of a city even before climate change and adaptation were spoken of. They make a substantial contribution to the green lungs of the city.