Early in the last century there was a farm in the Dell, downhill from the field which now has the Orchard. You can see the remains of the old flint and brick buildings which were destroyed by fire before the last war. There was no natural water for the animals, so a pond was created next to the farmyard, and its water supply was through a flint lined ditch, the leat, which took surface water from the parkland around the house. Ten years ago, the leat was restored, running from Lady Ela Drive and round Dell Mound; after rain there is a satisfying rush of water down the leat into the pond.
But after the farm was abandoned, the leat became overgrown and the pond silted up. The concrete rim cracked, and in dry weather the water drained away leaving an unappealing mess of sludge. Over the years, the Friends working party tried to introduce marshland plants, including irises which do so well in the Common ponds. But with an inconsistent water supply and dense shade from the surrounding trees, nothing grew.
In 2013, the Council decided to fell some of the trees, and with the help of the Common Rangers, who scooped out 30 tons of sludge from the pond, the Friends began to tidy up the area. We have repaired the walls, and rim of the pond and the century-old valve which opened up the sluice to empty it.
The rejuvenated pond
The irises we planted are at the end where the leat enters the pond and should start growing in the spring. They will filter out the sediment from the water enetring the pond, and provide shelter for dragonflies and other pond dwellers to lay their eggs.
Vixen and cub – examples of the chainsaw carvings around Dell Pond.