fleet pond and fleet pond society fleet pond history part 4 the first decade of the society. fleet...

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Fleet Pond and Fleet Pond Society Fleet Pond History Part 4 The first decade of the Society. Fleet Pond Society was founded on 28 th February 1976 three years after the Pond was purchased from the Army in January 1973. The Society concentrated work in its first decade on improving the reserve for the benefit of the large number of local people who knew and loved Fleet Pond. The northern footpath was laid, Carnival and Brookly Bridges installed, a new timber bridge at Sandy Bay constructed, Chestnut Grove boat launch point and jetty was built and the concrete plinth overlooking Wellington Reedbed laid down. The latter had been intended as the base for a bird observation hide but volunteers were dismayed to find the hide demolished on two attempts to build it and eventually had to abandon that part of the project. In Part 4 we show some of the tasks to make Fleet Pond LNR a more accessible and attractive place for people. In doing so we must not forget to give full consideration for the wildlife for which the reserve has SSSI and LNR status. Our work for the wildlife will be shown in Part 5. The following selection of photographs, press articles, etc. have been provided by members and helpers of Fleet Pond Society including Bill and Chris Wain, Kay Woodward, Freddie Tuck, David Jones, Tony Mundell. Slide 2 The Hemelite Company operated on the infilled Flash making brieze blocks for the building industry. These photos by Tony Mundell show how the company expanded into the wet Flash area. April 1976. Slide 3 One of the first task was to install a new concrete jetty at Chestnut Grove for safer and easier launching of boats. Photograph by Bill Wain 1978. Slide 4 The Chestnut Grove jetty was built by creating a wall of concrete-filled sand bags, infilling with ballast and then topping of with a concrete scree. Photograph by Bill Wain 1978. Slide 5 The northern footpath - 1978. Until volunteers built the northern footpath along by the railway line the only way to reach the eastern side from Wellington Avenue was by way of the industrial estate and the railway car park. The Hemelite Company provided the broken blocks from which the path was made. Slide 6 Boats and an old metal pontoon barge were used to ferry materials to the work site as work progressed on the northern footpath. Peter Martin (in the yellow waterproof) relates how he once missed the boat and ended up to his neck in the pond, his waders full of water. Slide 7 Work on the northern footpath continued into 1979. Slide 8 Some of the happy band of volunteers on a completed section of the northern footpath. 1979. Slide 9 To complete the northern link a bridge had to be installed across the outflow. The supports were laid by volunteers. Peter Carrs company constructed the bridge, providing it at cost only, the Carnival Association donated a significant part of the cost (hence the name of the bridge) and volunteers manhandled the bridge and secured it in position. Slide 10 Volunteers manhandle the new bridge onto its supports. 1979. Slide 11 Carnival Bridge in place and being anchored to the concrete supports. 1979. Slide 12 . Official opening of the Carnival Bridge June 1979 Slide 13 Sandy Bay in the winter of 1979, showing the first timber bridge over the Gelvert Stream. Slide 14 Fleet Pond Society soon became involved in caring for the wildlife. Abandoned fishing line has long been a hazard and this incident in August 1978 is just one example. Slide 15 The cygnet, freed of the lethal fishing line, is returned to the pond. Slide 16 In 1978 another team of volunteers tried to protect the bird roosts on Fir Tree Island by manually removing sand from Sandy Bay. On this occasion they had the help of a dumper truck and driver to move the sand. Slide 17 This view by Kay Woodward in 1982 shows how rich the pond once was in water lilies. Slide 18 In 1982 there were still floating reedbeds in the pond. Slide 19 Pam and Maurice Day provided these evocative pictures of winter at Fleet Pond 1982. Slide 20 Over its history, Fleet Pond Society has benefited from a number of awards and financial grants in recognition of services to the community. One of the first was in 1982. Slide 21 Councillors joined volunteers for a major litter pick in 1982. Here they gather at Sandy Bay for a photo opportunity. Slide 22 A serious hazard of dry years was (and still is) the fire risk, particularly to the small, open heathland areas. Here careless or deliberate use of fire is devouring part of the Dry Heath near the reserve car park in 1983. Slide 23 The aftermath of a heathland fire in September 1983. The heather is destroyed and coarse grasses are taking over. This is Molinia or Purple Moor Grass. It recovers much faster than heather and unless controlled would dominate the heath and stop light reaching any new heather shoots. This would prevent any heather regeneration resulting in a complete change of habitat. Slide 24 Just some of the tasks undertaken by Fleet Pond Society in the first decade of activity. Slide 25 Dredger and pipework in place to dredge Brookly Bay in December 1984. Slide 26 Accumulated detritus silt was pumped out of Brookly Bay into the fenced area of Brookly Wood. Suction-pumped material is about 80% water and needs a long period to settle. Slide 27 Slide 28 The bird observation platform under construction December 1984. Note the blocks on top for the hide construction. Slide 29 The press reported the vandalism that wrecked the proposed bird hide in December 1985. Slide 30 1985. A team of volunteers meets at Sandy Bay to gather wheelbarrows of sand to fill potholes in the footpath from the Bay to Coldstream Glade. Here you see them hard at play. Slide 31 The volunteer troops assemble and prepare to face the strenuous task ahead. They need more discipline ! The positions of feet are all wrong for Present Spades. And yet strong hearts are all in the right place. Slide 32 This aerial photo is not dated. The industrial park is now fully covering the old Flash and Chestnut Grove jetty can be seen. This would indicate a late 1980s date; but floating reedbeds and water lily pads would indicate mid 1980s as many of these disappeared before 1985. Slide 33 This aerial photo is also not dated but from the same set as the previous one. Note the industrial park is fully operational and there is a lack of houses around the small pond by the Cove Road. Slide 34 Thames Water Authority removed Bream from the pond. It had become the dominant species and was believed to be partly responsible for the loss of much of the aquatic flora. Slide 35 A feature introduced in the 1980s was to include Fleet Pond in the tour of Council-owned sites for local councillors. This picture taken on the Carnival Bridge was of the summer 1986 walk. The names (not all confirmed) are, left to right: Alan Franklin (Star newspaper), Cllr Ron Forster, Mike Tyler (Chief Exec Hart DC), Peter Martin (FPS), Cllr Marius Cachia, David Jones (FPS), not known, Len Wilson, Pam Collett (ne Baldock), not known, Cllr Adrian Collett, Cllr John Stocks, Bob Rose, Cllr Peter Hutcheson, Cllr John Acres, Cllr Edward Dawson, Aubrey Dawson, Cecily Wollweber, Bryn Brassington. Slide 36 One popular use of the Chestnut Grove jetty was for birdwatching. This was taken by Derek Knight in 1986. Slide 37 The pictures in Part 4 show the work of the Fleet Pond Society towards improving the nature reserve for people,which formed a major part of the work in the first decade. In Part 5 you will see some of the work to protect and enhance the wildlife habitats that make Fleet Pond such a special place. First notified a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1954, this special status was confirmed in 1984 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 Wildlife surveys by experts were commissioned and a conservation volunteer force recruited. You will find out all about this in the next part of Fleet Ponds history.


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