FPS Volunteers Help Out At Horsell Common

September 16, 2017

Heather Farm Wetland and Cafe at Horsell Common

On 1st September, a team of volunteers from Fleet Pond Society (FPS) visited Horsell Common, near Woking in Surrey, to carry out a volunteer task.

The FPS team sitting on the (wooden) alligator (see picture above)

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, explains the interesting history of Horsell Common as well as the reasons for the visit from FPS:

Originally Horsell Common was part of Windsor Great Park and was known as King’s Waste, until, like most of the Park, it eventually passed into local ownership. The owner was the Lord of the Manor of Pyrford, the Earl of Onslow, who allowed it to be used by the local residents for grazing, firewood collection and open recreation, while making an income from the sandpit and forestry. An early 18th century map shows the Commons as “Hoswell Heath” and a later map as “Horsehill Heath”.

The 1806 Enclosures Act refers to enclosures of lands in the Manor of Pyrford… “Commons and Wastelands within the manor…shall not divide let out, allot or enclosed, or in any manner interfere with the several commons and wastelands within the Parish of Horsell…but that the same shall be and remain in the same state and condition as if this act was not passed.”

In 1904 the Lord of the Manor was finding it difficult to stop despoliation of the Commons under his ownership. An attempt to get the Horsell populace to vote in a referendum, on “whether our Commons shall be preserved and protected”, or whether they “shall be left as now, to be the sport of Incendiaries, the Common receptacle of all kinds of refuse… and a camping ground for Gypsies”, was inconclusive.

This failure and letters in the Times and other papers instigated a scheme to “invest with the necessary authority some person or persons resident near each of my commons” and in 1910 the Horsell Common Preservation Committee held its first meeting.

Lord Onslow suggested he hand over the common entirely to the committee as early as 1920 but no action was taken. Years later the question of acquiring the Common by the Committee was again raised, and the lease of the common from Lord Onslow was signed in 1947, and in 1959, the Society gained charitable status. The Society finally purchased the freehold of the Common in 1966 for £1,634.

Since then, 24 acres of riverside meadows at Bourne Fields have been added, and a further 50 acres of farmland at Bonsey, previously known as Mizen’s Farm, have been taken into management.

In total the Society owns and manages over 830 acres and is the largest landowner in the Borough.

In 2017, Rachel Jones joined the management team for Horsell Common. Rachel had been a very popular ranger at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve, liked and respected by the many volunteers at the Reserve. She loved our pond and did volunteer work with Fleet Pond Society in addition to her Hart Ranger role. FPS ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ volunteers decided it would be an excellent idea to spend a day working with Rachel at Horsell.

On 1st September nine of us went to Horsell and spent a fun time getting very muddy clearing willow and reedmace from a small pond built as a pond dipping area for children. Rachel was delighted to welcome old friends from Fleet Pond and grateful for our help reopening the pond for visiting children to use.

Another picture of the FPS team (plus Rachel, lower row middle)

Read more about Horsell Common Preservation Society at www.horsellcommon.org.uk

Ed. A part of Horsell Common (known as the Sandpit) is well-known internationally for quite another reason (see here):

Local author H G Wells who lived in Maybury used the Sandpit as the landing site for Martian space craft in his novel “War of the Worlds”. Today it is still a site of pilgrimage for many science fiction fans that travel from all over the world.

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Sunday Volunteer Events 2017-18

September 4, 2017

Now that autumn is approaching, you may be thinking of starting some new activities and getting some fresh air and exercise at the same time? If so, why not consider joining us on our Sunday volunteering events at Fleet Pond?

We’re a very friendly bunch and there’s even free coffee/tea/chocolate and munchies at a mid-morning break 🙂 Sometimes there are even hot potatoes as a special treat!

Typically events start at c 9:30 and last to c 12:30. No skills or prior knowledge is required and you’ll also be making a great contribution to the local environment. If interested, please contact the Hart Rangers as described in the poster above.

Here are the details of the tasks up to the end of the year (see map below for locations):

  • September 10th: Fugelmere Marsh – digging out Alder saplings/scrub. No bonfire.
  • October 8th: Coldstream Marsh – scrub bash willow/alder scrub with a bonfire.
  • November 5th: Dry Heath – scrub clearance with a bonfire
  • December 10th: Wood Lane Heath – expand wildlife corridor between the heath and Bog Myrtle Glade with a bonfire

Map of Fleet Pond

Here are some photos from previous events:

The mid-morning break and time for a chat and catchup

Hot potatoes are sometimes a special treat

 


Capturing the Spirit of Fleet Pond

August 11, 2017

The Fleet Pond Society Photographic Competition is underway, why not think of submitting one or two entries? The theme is:

‘Beauty and the not so…’

This year’s theme is a “warts and all” celebration of all aspects of Fleet Pond Nature Reserve from the beautiful to the still eye-catching but not so cute. This interesting theme leaves a lot to your imagination and interpretation!

For general inspiration, here are some great photos of different aspects of Fleet Pond that have been posted on Twitter over the last six months (see the FPS Twitter feed here for these and many other interesting photos):

Credit: Colin Stock

Credit: MummyBarrow

Credit: Chris Marney

Credit: Mark Bishop

Credit: Richard Handyside


‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award for Colin Gray

August 10, 2017

Paul Todd of Green Flag with Colin Gray of FPS

There was a big surprise for Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society (FPS), at the recent Elvetham Heath Countryside Day. He was presented with the Green Flag Volunteer of the Year Award by Paul Todd, Scheme Manager of the Green Flag Award (see above).

This award recognises the dedication shown by volunteers working alongside professionals in improving parks and green spaces across the UK. Apparently he won it by a mile! His leadership of the project to create the new Avondale Pond system in Brookly Wood (at Fleet Pond) was cited by Hart Countryside Services as being typical of the dedication Colin has shown. This is to balance out any unexpected overflows from the Thames Water pumping station.

Group photo featuring Green Flag, FPS and Hart Countryside Services

Colin was for once speechless when he was called forward to accept the award. However Paul Todd said “Colin is a shining example to all volunteers who are involved with creating and maintaining green spaces for the public, particularly those that qualify for a Green Flag Award.”

Fleet Pond nature reserve has yet again been awarded the Green Flag Award for 2017 along with the one at Elvetham Heath and Hartley Wintney Central Commons which has also has achieved green heritage accreditation for the first time. Colin did have something to say about this! “Hart Countryside Services deserve major congratulations on gaining Green Flags for these wonderful sites.”

You can read about Green Flag Awards here.

“The Green Flag Award® scheme recognises and rewards well managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for the management of recreational outdoor spaces across the United Kingdom and around the world.”


Church Crookham & Fleet Men’s Shed

August 8, 2017

Making nesting boxes for Tawny Owls

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

Men’s Shed for Church Crookham and Fleet was set up only recently and as yet do not have a home of their own. They are very keen to take on tasks for their members and, where possible, raise funds towards building a shed of their own. Fleet Pond Society committee had decided that we would like to provide more nesting boxes for Tawny Owls at the nature reserve. Men’s Shed seemed a very good option and we approached Allan Walker with the plans. They produced two boxes for us which I collected on 19 July (see above).

The following is an extract from the Men’s Shed website (see here) which explains their aims and objectives under the general banner of:

Bringing people together to make or mend in a friendly and safe environment.

“What is a men’s shed?

A men’s shed is a larger version of the typical man’s shed in the garden – a place where he feels at home and pursues practical interests with a high degree of autonomy. A men’s shed offers this to a group of such men where members share the tools and resources they need to work on projects of their own choosing at their own pace and in a safe, friendly and inclusive venue. They are places of skill-sharing and informal learning, of individual pursuits and community projects, of purpose, achievement and social interaction. A place of leisure where men (and women) come together to work.

​A shed’s activities usually involve making or mending in wood (eg carpentry, joinery, turning, carving, whittling, marquetry, furniture renovation) but may include metalworking (milling, sheet metal, welding etc), bike repair, gardening, electronics, tool renovation, boat renovation, model engineering (model railways, planes) and even building a car! Reclamation, reuse and restoration will feature strongly – and some say that is true of the men too! Although sheds mostly attract older men, some have included men of any age, women and young people. Whichever activities are pursued the essence of a shed is not a building, which some don’t have, but the network of relationships between the members.​

Our Shed:

Our shed is currently located at Calthorpe Park School. They have kindly allowed us to use their design technology room and tools until we have our own shed up and running. Their tools include wood and metalwork lathes, pillar drills, band saws etc and they have many workbenches. We are gradually collecting together our own collection of tools to take with us to our shed when it is ready. We are busy working on our own projects and jointly working on various community projects.”


Why Not Join The Big Butterfly Count For 2017?

July 14, 2017

Why not join in the Big Butterfly Count, either locally or perhaps as a fun activity at Fleet Pond? It runs from the 14th July to the 6th August.

Here are some links to articles on butterflies that can be found at Fleet Pond Nature Reserve:

Butterflies Around The Pond – Have You Seen Any?

Butterflies At The Pond


Fleet Pond Society at Fleet Carnival 2017

July 6, 2017

A group shot of FPS procession volunteers, in a variety of dress!

Here are some photos from the Grand Procession at Fleet Carnival 2017, which took place on Saturday 1st July. The procession theme was ‘Under the Sea’ and you can see that this was imaginatively interpreted by FPS using a Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ (album from 1969) motif.

Travelling down the main street in Fleet, collecting funds

Oswald the Octopus, normally a retiring fellow, decided to hitch a ride on the submarine

Tuning up and just about to burst into song…

A mermaid together with King Neptune

The ever popular meerkats made an appearance…this time as mermaids!