This paper documents how archives were used to write a history of the twentieth century urban allotment movement in England. Beginning with a case study of allotments in Ilford (now London Borough of Redbridge), it describes how 100 years of council minutes were used as a foundation to study a previously unresearched subject. Local Ilford Allotment Society archives were then examined, so that a more balanced perspective could be presented. In order to broaden the scope of this history, research then branched out to include legislation relating to allotments, and allotment holdings in the London Metropolitan and the Quaker archive, amongst others. The demographics of the plot holders in Ilford/Redbridge was profiled and showed that contrary to the established narrative, plot holders were not necessarily drawn from the poor and working classes but instead were reflective of the communities in which they lived. This paper further discusses the physical condition of archives in the possession of allotment societies and reflects on the difficulty of the conservation and security of those collections. It also questions the ethics of separating allotment society archives from their owners in order to safeguard them.