Pond Restoration History from 2006 – 2014
Where is Eaglesfield Park Pond ?
The Eaglesfield Park and pond nestle behind the Water Tower at at the top of Shooters Hill. So it is easy to find !
Shooters Hill is the highest point in South London at 132 metres (432 feet), and it offers some fantastic views. It is understood that the views from Shooters Hill and Eaglesfield Park are indeed protected by law. The road through the area would have been dangerous for travellers – highwaymen took advantage of the dark woods for ambush! The name “Shooters Hill” (recorded in 1226) may have come from these criminal activities. It was also a place of burial. A burial ground of possibly bronze age lies on the northern side of the summit.
In the 18th century the area began to be developed, with fine houses on both slopes of the hill. Until 1875 the area behind the Water Tower was known as Woodcot which included surrounding gardens and a large pond (150ft x 90ft) fed from a local spring. A large house, built before 1745, was demolished in 1875 and two cottages were built close to the Water Tower.
Later much of the woodland on Shooters Hill was threatened by development, most of the grand houses had been demolished and the London County Council acquired areas that could be preserved for the public, including Castle Wood, Jack Wood and Oxleas Wood. In 1906 the pond was filled in. In 1908 Woolwich MBC bought Eaglesfield and opened as Eaglesfield Park.
FOEP seeks restoration of the pond
The pond had originally been designed as a Lily Pond and surrounded by well tended plants but over the years became so overgrown few people knew that a pond had existed. The once beautiful lily pond had become an eyesore and an ideal “dumping ground” for all manner of rubbish, including shopping trolleys and attracted anti-social behaviour. Thus restoration of the pond became the focus of the local community and FOEP’s initial project.
A Consortium of Friends of Eaglesfield Park (FOEP), The Royal Borough of Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces, UK Environmental Wildlife Charities, Groundwork UK and Froglife was formed. FOEP secured £50,000 from the Community Spaces Programme (part of the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces initiative), plus additional funding from The Royal Borough of Greenwich to restore the old Lily Pond and make other improvements to Eaglesfield Park. Following five years of discussion, planning and advice, construction of the pond was completed December 2011. The surrounding wildflower meadow was planted in Spring 2012. In addition the RBG repaired pathways, steps and installed new railings around the pond.
The following details restoration as it progressed ….
March 2011 – Overgrown – Rubbish – no Water
March 2011 – Clearing begins
November 2011 – The Pond Takes Shape
November 2011 – The Pond Dipping Platform is constructed
November 2011 – The Pond Liner is added
November 2011 – Pond Liner installed (topped with soil) and Pond Dipping Platform completed
November/December 2011 – Planting around the edge of Pond and adding the water
March/April 2012 – Preparing and Planting the Pond Meadow
FOEP and volunteers prepare the meadow and plant wildflower seed mix. Weather-wise it was perfect and the number of people arriving was fantastic
April/May 2012 – What Difference!
The Mulberry Tree – Many park visitors may remember there was a Mulberry Tree in the fenced off area of the pond (in the corner, near the new dipping platform). Sadly it was damaged and was removed, but it has been replaced and is growing well. It will receive our TLC !
June 15th 2012 – Time to Celebrate
On Friday 15th June Friends of Eaglesfield Park wanted to share and celebrate with our local community that the once lost and forgotten pond has been restored into a wonderful wildlife pond with a dipping platform that hopefully would become a focal point for visitors to the park.
To Commemorate the opening The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich officially “cut the tape” and opened the gate to the dipping platform. We certainly won’t forget which year the restored pond was opened – 2012 (we became the Royal Borough of Greenwich, The London Olympics and The Royal Diamond Jubilee!). The day will also hold a further significance for several children who tried out our pond dipping platform. They received a unique certificate to commemorate they were part of the opening ceremony and among the first people (children or adult !) to use the pond dipping platform.
Although our large marquees would have provided shelter, we were indeed lucky to have good (well reasonable) weather and our planned celebrations opened in true carnival spirit with the children of Plumcroft and Christ Church primary schools in vibrant costume and displaying their considerable drumming and dancing talents.
We would like to thank TARU Arts, a local Woolwich based community Arts Project, for the great job they did working with the local schools in the lead up to this event and at the Grand Opening Of course we would also very much like to thank the Staff and children from Plumcroft and Christ Church Schools for taking part with such enthusiasm.
Throughout the day TARU provided drumming and hat making workshop opportunities and face painting for the children. Add to this a vibrant Brazilian Jazz Band and Zumba dancing and the aroma of delicious spicy food provided by Guarida Community Cafe, we indeed enjoyed a festive celebration. Who needs sunshine anyway!
The wildlife pond area looked wonderful and we would like to thank the “diggers and gardeners” for their time and enthusiasm (and tools!) for helping to create the wildlife meadow surrounding the pond.
The pond is already attracting tadpoles, small frogs, water skaters, leech, newts and, as yet, unidentified “bugs” and visits from two mallard ducks. The wildlife flower seeds have been sown and we await the results!
But this is not the end of “the restoration” …..
It is on-going and always will be ! It is vital to ensure the pond and surrounding meadow are regularly maintained to provide a habitat which will benefit and attract wildlife and of course the pond does provide enjoyment for park visitor.
and also ….Pond Railings and Pathways
The old railigs surrounding the pond were in a bad condition and in need of replacement to restrict dangerous access and improve security.
The pathways around the pond area were also repaired. The Royal Borough of Greenwich Parks and Open Spaces Department were able to provide funding for this work, and also repairs/renewal of other paths and park entrance steps.
FOEP will continue to organise regular tidy up/weeding sessions to control invasive plants We very much hope volunteers (and their basic tools !) will join us.