Fujitsu Volunteers Lend A Hand At The Pond

January 28, 2014

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The Fujitsu team at Fleet Pond

Rachel Jones, Hart Countryside Ranger, writes:

“A group of Fujitsu employees came out for their annual team day to Fleet Pond on Monday 20 January. They helped us clear pine saplings off the heath, an important part of the conservation work there.

Wood Lane heath is a ‘wet heath’ that was designated a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation because of its heathland vegetation and it’s notable species.

Lowland heathland is classed as a priority habitat under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). Fleet Pond Local Nature Reserve/SSSI has small areas of this habitat that has nationally suffered great decline in the last 200 years.

As well as a specific grazing regime, work by volunteers is needed to keep control of the pine tree saplings that threaten to take over the heath from the surrounding woodland.

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A beautifully clear start to the day (if a little cold)

The photographs show the start of the morning which was beautiful but cold! Before everyone headed off for lunch, enormous progress was made clearing the majority of the saplings.

Thank you to the team, and their leader Carol Dunford, for all the good work carried out. Most of the volunteers had not been to the area before and travelled from London and Ealing, oh and Kings Road, Fleet!”


Sunday 12 January – Clearing Up For The Viewpoint

January 24, 2014

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Clearing out the scrub, with the pond in the background

David Pottinger writes:

Here are some photos from the very popular volunteer event that took place on Sunday 12 January, over 35 volunteers were present!

As explained in a previous post, Natural England has approved the construction of the new viewing platform on the eastern side of Fleet Pond and the task for Sunday was to clear scrub and saplings from the construction site and any that would interfere with the view over the reeds.

As you can imagine, with such a large team an enormous amount of work can get done in a relatively short period of time (one morning). So these conservation tasks really do make a big impact on the general upkeep of the Pond. The following photos show some typical activities:

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The larger items of wood were gathered together to form a habitat for insects

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Felling trees, hard hats required!

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Hopefully these photos give a good feel for the sort of work carried out in our regular Sunday volunteer sessions. A collection of photos from a wide variety of volunteer events in 2013 can also be found here.

If you would like to join us in our conservation activities, please contact Rachel Jones for further information and booking – contact details here.

Photo credits: the top two and bottom photos are courtesy of Kim Byrne, with the others kindly provided by Rachel Jones and Colin Gray.


A Welcome To Our Corporate Members

January 22, 2014

The following organisations give valuable support to Fleet Pond and the work of Fleet Pond Society by their Corporate Membership:

Dimension Data United Kingdom

2 Waterfront Business Park,
Fleet Road, Fleet, Hampshire,
GU51 3QT, United Kingdom.

Founded in 1983, Dimension Data plc is an ICT services and solutions provider that uses its technology expertise, global service delivery capability, and entrepreneurial spirit to accelerate the business ambitions of its clients. Dimension Data is a member of the NTT Group.

www.dimensiondata.com

The Logic Group Holdings Ltd.

Logic House
Waterfront Business Park
Fleet, Hampshire
GU51 3SB, United Kingdom.

The Logic Group

Top brands in consumer focused industries rely on The Logic Group to help them deliver enhanced customer interactions experiences for their customers. With over 25 years’ experience, we are a trusted partner to card acquirers and schemes, alternative payments services, mobile network operators, systems integrators, regulatory industry bodies and many prominent high-street brands.

With over 50% of the UK’s top retailers, telecommunications companies and insurance groups benefiting from The Logic Group solutions, we process in excess of 35% of the UK’s card transactions and manage over 20 million loyalty scheme members for our clients.

At The Logic Group we are committed to taking responsibility for our position within the community and managing our business to provide a positive impact on society – read more about our Corporate Social Responsibility.

www.the-logic-group.com


Fascinating Photos From A Hundred Years Ago

January 19, 2014

AB1910s View NW3

In a previous post, we described some of the surprising history linked to the eastern side of Fleet Pond. Here are some interesting postcard images of this area taken during the same period. In the above picture, you can see a large jetty, which has obviously deteriorated as it is in two parts.

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A second picture of the jetty (dated 1904)

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Another view of the eastern side

Colin Gray, who provided the pictures above and the map below, writes:

“Below is a map of the pond dated 1909.

You can just make out Kenilworth and Westover Roads leading down to the pond and showing the extent of the open water in that direction. It also shows The Flash which was infilled in 1976 for the building of the industrial estate, now the Waterfront Business Park.

The pond level was lowered by 33cm in 1969 to ensure the industrial estate did not flood. It was also in response to an incident when the outflow through the Flow Arch was blocked, causing back-up of water which threatened to flood neighbouring roads.

The then owner of the small pond had installed a netting grill across his end of the culvert so he could stock the small pond with Bream. This gathered a lot of debris, blocking the culvert. The netting was removed by council order and the Bream moved in to the main pond.”

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A map of Fleet Pond (dated 1909)

It’s interesting to compare the above map with an aerial view of the Pond taken from Google Maps (which also shows the new islands) – see here.

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Fleet Pond from the air (taken from Google Maps)

Credits: the pictures from the early 1900s are scans of postcards kindly loaned to FPS by Mr J Boulter of Fleet.


Volunteer Event This Sunday – 12 Jan 2014

January 10, 2014

Colin Gray, Chairman of FPS, writes:

“Rachel Jones and I made a quick tour of the Pond earlier this week to look at the numerous impacts of the recent gales and excess of rain and decide on this Sunday’s task.

Natural England has approved the construction of the new viewing platform on the eastern side of Fleet Pond. Our task will be to clear scrub and saplings from the construction site and any that would interfere with the view over the reeds.

It is very wet at and around the embankment on which the viewing platform will be built so wellington boots are essential if you possess a pair. We have only a limited supply to loan so if you possess wellies, please bring them along.

There is also quite a lot of bramble around so be prepared to trip over strands or tear clothing on the runners!

Rachel has insisted we supply baked potatoes (if we can get a good fire started) which should be an added incentive for you?

Please let Rachel know if you are going to join us (contact details here) so we can ensure there are enough potatoes to go round. If you come by car please park in Kenilworth Road as there is very limited space to park a car at the Workshop.

If all goes to plan we will  be installing the viewing platform in the week beginning 24th February and with the approach ramp will probably take about 3 days to build.

If you have spare hours during the working week that you could spare to help us in this task, please let me know.

With fingers crossed for a reasonably dry Sunday, I hope to see you there.”

Ed. Please see here and here for additional information.


The Storm And The Pond

January 9, 2014

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Fast flowing water upstream to the Gelvert Bridge (2 Jan 2014)

Ed. This post was written to cover some of the effects of the storm of 23/24 December 2013 on Fleet Pond with photos taken on 26 December and 2 January.

If you are unfamiliar with any of the locations mentioned, please see the map here (click it to enlarge).

Colin Gray writes:

A powerful storm and very heavy rain over the night of 23rd / 24th December was a significant test of the diversion channels installed, but not yet fully functional, in the Gelvert Stream at Fleet Pond. The aim of these channels was to divert up to two thirds of silt laden water away from the main stream and into the widened channel of Coldstream Ditch.

The extension of the Ditch by a long channel would carry the water along the eastern edge of the marshes complex where the water flow would be slowed, allowing silt to be deposited before it reaches the main pond. Deposited silt could then be removed by land-based machinery, which would avoid the high cost of heavy machinery floated on pontoons to dredge the main pond.

The planned control sluices have not yet been installed but the fact that water can be carried by the new channels was proved to dramatic effect at the northern channel, which was completely full on the morning after the storm.

The southern channel did accept a high flow but demonstrated that the gap built in the sluice structure was inadequate; water spilled over the channel bank overwhelming the narrow gap where the sluice would have been installed. The bridge over the Gelvert Stream still presents an obstacle to a free flow of water at high volumes. Water built up against the bridge supports, overflowed onto the adjacent footpaths and covered the bridge platform with about 8cm of water.

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The Coldstream Culvert (2 Jan)

The new, much wider, culvert of the Coldstream Ditch, where it passes under the footpath, coped very well. There was some overflow into the adjacent woodland and across the footpath at Coldstream Glade but not of significant depth.

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Sandy Bay on 26 December 2013

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Sandy Bay on 2 January 2014

At Sandy Bay the new line of islands along the eastern marsh edge (to the right of the Bay) were completely submerged. This is not necessarily a bad thing as eventually we plan to plant these with reeds and reed would not be averse to submersion in water. It does mean that diverting the Gelvert flow into the main pond at Sandy Bay along the rear of these islands would obviously not work at such high water volume input.

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Example of the Gelvert braiding (2 Jan)

The shallow channels cut into the reedbed to the west (left side) of the Gelvert at Sandy Bay, called “braiding”, took some of the flow, which would help to filter out some silt before the water reached the main pond.

Fleet fortunately did not suffer the disasters inflicted on other towns in Hampshire, for which we must be grateful.  As a test of our silt defence measures at Fleet Pond it was a useful if rather excessive test.


The Eastern Viewpoint – Past And Future

January 8, 2014

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A de Havilland hydroplane on Fleet Pond (approx. 1912)

Colin Gray, Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

Good news has just been received that Fleet Pond Society has permission from Natural England to proceed with the construction of a new viewpoint over on the eastern side of Fleet Pond.  The new viewpoint will be built on the old embankment laid down by the army in the 19th century as a base for a very large jetty which stretched out into the pond to launch boat-based training exercises.

Early in the 20th century the jetty was demolished and another military use was made of the embankment.

In his book “Fleet –Town of My Youth” Geoffrey Edwards includes the following account recalled from his childhood memories of Fleet Pond:

“a contingent of workers arrived from Farnborough Balloon Factory. The small steam locomotive was brought from the Factory together with several railway lines. A rail track was laid from near the railway to well into the pond using material from the old pier (jetty) as a base. This inclined railway, nearly half a mile long, was completed.”

The writer, as a small boy, watched the following events:

“the workers from the Factory assembled a strange machine with a fuselage, biplane wings, an engine and a driver’s seat and with two 10 foot floats beneath. The steam locomotive got up full steam. It pushed a flat railway bogie in front on which the strange object rested. The bottoms of the floats were greased. (With a pilot in the seat) the locomotive took off at high speed pushing in front the plane, engine and propeller. The engine abruptly stopped at the water’s edge and …. (the) plane flew for about 100 yards above the pond. The plane then struck the water, the floats were broken off and the plane nose-dived into the water.”

The pilot was unharmed and other trials were later conducted using various designs. Geoffrey Edwards believed the pilot was Samuel Cody but later records show that it was in fact Geoffrey de Havilland. Cody used Laffams Plain and the adjacent canal, not Fleet Pond, for his aircraft trials.

The cost of the construction of the viewing platform, the decking and the access ramp and path are to be very generously met by a grant from Fleet Lions. To recognise this it is proposed to place two marker posts boasting lions heads at the entrance to Lions Walk, a path and a long ramp, fully accessible by people with mobility aids, leading to the new viewpoint “De Havilland Viewpoint” in recognition of its historic link to the successful development of de Havilland aircraft that served us so well in WWII.

Ed. see also the related post here.

Picture credit: picture provided courtesy of Percy Vickery, from his large collection of postcards and photos of Fleet and Church Crookham.