New Works At Brookly

March 2, 2017


Click to Enlarge

Colin Gray writes:

“The timescale for the final part of the above works is to complete by 31st March 2017. This could slip due the current wet weather but it is still the plan. This will include the cleaning out of the four stew ponds in Brookly Wood.”

For an interesting article on this part of Fleet Pond, see Hotspots and Hidden Gems – The Stew Ponds by Michelle Salter.



Time Team at the Pond

February 8, 2017


Cathy Holden writes:

“The ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ volunteer team morphed into the Time Team last Friday as we excavated a WWII site at the Pond. These concrete slabs were placed in situ when the land was owned and used by the military.

From the shape of them, our thoughts are that they were supports for large fuel tanks.

If anyone knows, please share with us.

Unfortunately, we didn’t unearth any interesting artifacts except possibly the remains of their china loo!”

Further fascinating history about Fleet Pond can be found here.



Some Fascinating Fleet Pond Facts

November 20, 2016


Michelle Salter, Secretary of Fleet Pond Society, writes:

How old is the pond? The first clear reference to the pond was in the 14th century, when “the great fishery (of) Fleet Ponds” is referred to in the Rolls of Account of Crondall Manor. By this time, there seems to have been a thriving fishery of considerable importance and two ponds.

Do any museums house records of the pond? Many Victorian naturalists visited Fleet Pond and references to its flora frequently appeared in natural history journals from this era, with herbarium sheets located at the Natural History Museum in Kensington and also at Reading and Oxford.

When was the pond used as an ice rink? In the 1840’s, the South Western Railway ran special excursions to Fleet Pond, including a “Skating Specials” in the Winter.

When was the pond, not a pond? In 1940, the MOD completely drained the pond to stop hostile bombers from using it as a landmark to find the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough (see photo above).

What title did the pond receive in 1951? The pond was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1951 and was one of the first sites in Hampshire to receive this distinction, due to the importance of the lake to waterfowl and the rich aquatic and heathland flora.

Ed. This article is a repost, it was originally published in October 2008.

Local History Group Celebrates 30 Years

June 7, 2016

Old Map Fleet Pond

A map of the Pondtail area of Fleet in the 1880s donated to Fleet and Crookham Local History Group (see link below)

From Get Hampshire:

Fleet and Crookham Local History Group is 30 years old, having been set up in 1986 following a wish from within the Fleet and Crookham Civic Society to have a museum in Hart.

The archive catalogue lists more than 8,800 items and the scans of material donated or loaned now numbers more than 58,000.

The group is now looking for a secure room in which to store archive material, with additional space for volunteers to work on cataloguing and scanning, and to carry out research and answer enquiries.

In 2007, the group was given a National Lottery award of £3,880 to increase public access.

This included purchase of display stands and providing copies of local history material, such as directories, census returns and topics relating to businesses, sport and graveyard memorials, in a set of red binders on open shelves in Fleet Library.

To widen contact with the public, the group invites enquiries and offers of information at its Meet the Local History Detectives sessions, held in Fleet Library.

The History Group’s web site can be found here.

You can find detailed information on the history of Fleet Pond on the FPS website here.

Building the Chestnut Grove Jetty: 40th Celebrations

April 28, 2016

This year sees the celebration of the 40th birthday of Fleet Pond Society. As part of this we are are having an Exhibition in the Hart Shopping Centre as well as producing occasional articles that illustrate some of the major pieces of work carried out by the Society over this period. A previous article described the creation of the circular route round the pond (see here) and this one describes the building of the familiar and very popular Chestnut Grove jetty.

Cathy Holden writes:

“Along with the circular path, one of the first major tasks undertaken by the volunteers of the new society was the construction of a concrete jetty at Chestnut Grove.

Up to that point there had only been a small jetty created from railway sleepers.

B76 Chest Grove jetty 1

The jetty was constructed using pre-mixed concrete and on the first run 200 sacks were filled by hand from the pile dumped in the road by the mixer.

C77 chestnut 2

The sacks were then lowered into position in the freezing water by Bill Wain and Peter Martin, the only people who owned waders.

C77 chestnut 4

However, by the time the mixer came round with the second load a much more labour efficient system was in place. The sacks were filled with the cement as it came down the shute and the volunteers formed a production line to get them out to Bill and Peter.

C77 chestnut 7

Further concrete was poured into the middle and then levelled out.

C77 chestnut 5

This jetty has been altered over the years to include an extension out to the right. It is still a favourite spot for visitors to feed the swans and other water birds, or just to look out over the Pond.

Chestnut now

With thanks to Peter Martin for the use of his book ‘Fleet Pond Society 1976 – 2006’ for reference. This interesting book is still available from the Society.”

Photos courtesy of the FPS Archives.

The Fascinating History of Fleet Pond

March 27, 2016

RE Bridge 1885

An old photo of a (military) bridge at Fleet Pond acquired by FPS (see here)

Whilst walking around Fleet Pond, with its peace and calm, it’s easy to imagine that it’s always been that way. However the actual history of the Pond is quite varied: its origins and link to Winchester, its use for recreation for people living in hectic London at the turn of the century and well as its use by the military (Aldershot is nearby of course).

If you’d like to find out more whilst actually on a walk, there’s a history board at Boathouse Corner (see picture below and map for location).


If you’d like to delve deeper, try the Fleet Pond Society web site which goes into some fascinating details as well as providing a wide range of interesting pictures. As a taster, here are some historical photos:

bathers at pond small

army under canvas at pond small



Forty Years On: Circumnavigating the Pond

March 19, 2016

Cathy Holden writes:

Visitors to Fleet Pond regularly amble, power walk, jog or cycle the circular route skirting the perimeter of the water, probably without giving it a second thought. However, this circumnavigation was only made possible by the back-breaking work of a band of enthusiastic Society volunteers between 1976 and 1979, led by Society Chairman Terry Sims.

Current Society President, Peter Martin, documented the early work of the Society in his booklet ‘Fleet Pond Society 1976 – 2006: The First 30 Years’ (Martin, 2009) from which I have taken much of the information in this article.

A major challenge the team faced in completing the route was a lack of bridges.  Two would need to be installed; one across the Brookly Stream and the second at the point at which the large Pond flows through to the small one. Peter Martin relates how Hart District Councillor Peter Carr offered the services of his family firm to construct a bridge over the Brookly Stream, provided the Council ‘… would pay £200 for two lengths of steel’. (Martin, 2009) The firm would donate the cost of other materials and labour to the Society for free; a generous offer as the true cost of the bridge was £3,500. Ultimately £100 was raised through jumble sales held by the Society, and the Council donated the other £100, on top of the £1,500 they had already committed to works in the Reserve.

The bridge was constructed and delivered to the Kenilworth Road depot where volunteers painted it dark green. On 8th January 1977, with the concrete supports having been installed, a group of volunteers edged the bridge into position using brute strength, a trolley, and a block and tackle strategically placed in a tree. It remained in place until 2011 when the current wooden bridge was installed.

C77 Brookly Br9 - Photo 1 C77 Brookly Br11 - Photo 2

Work continued on the perimeter path, a hugely ambitious project for the group. Trees had to be removed by the industrial estate in order for the path work to begin. It was laid using broken breeze blocks and loose material. Peter commented that: ‘Laying the broken blocks was rather like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, with gaps then filled by the loose material’ (Martin, 2009).

C78 Nth footpath 1 - Photo 3

Work on the path reached the northern bank in the Spring of 1977 and railway sleepers were installed along the water’s edge. As the path progressed further along the bank the Council provided a pontoon onto which materials were loaded and then punted down to the work site. However, this could be a tricky manoeuvre as the weight of the load could cause the pontoon to list ‘…at almost forty-five degrees…’ (Martin, 2009) causing some volunteers to have an unexpected dip in the Pond!

C79 Carnival bld2 Photo 4 Photo 5

By 1979 the two halves of the perimeter path were joined by the installation of the second bridge. This spanned the channel along which water flowed into the small Pond. Again, it was the physical strength of the volunteers which impressed as they manhandled the two halves of the bridge so that they met. A ‘lucky volunteer’ then had to balance on the metal over the fast flowing deep channel to bolt the two sections together. Once that had been done, it was just a matter of laying the planks in position.

The bridge was named ‘Carnival Bridge’ as the Fleet Carnival Committee had donated £500 towards its cost. The bridge was opened by Kathleen Woodman whose husband Charles was a founder member and Vice-President of the Carnival Committee. This bridge was replaced in 2011, but the old bridge did not go to waste, it was renovated to create a new crossing at the Wood Lane entrance to the Reserve. The official opening was a very special occasion as the guests of honour were the family of Charles and Kathleen Woodman. This time it was their daughter, Beaulah Bower, who was thrilled to cut the ribbon.

C79 Carnival bld7b Photo 6 C1979 Carnival bridge install 1 - Photo 7 s

At the end of their hugely ambitious project, the volunteers of the 1970s received a letter of thanks from the Council ‘…for all their efforts in completing the perimeter access…’ (Martin, 2009). Today we too can offer a ‘thank you’ to these early Society volunteers who enabled us to enjoy a circumnavigation of the whole Pond.

C1979 path workers - Photo 8 s

Work on this circular walk never really stops. Another entry point was made possible by the addition of the bridge over The Flash alongside the railway station in 2011. Current volunteers and Countryside Rangers can regularly be seen maintaining the pathways; most recently on the eastern side of the Pond where a large section of the path was re-laid last year to make it more accessible to all visitors.

The photographs above are from the archive of the Fleet Pond Society.

Peter Martin’s book (mentioned above) is still available to buy from Fleet Pond Society. Please contact the current FPS Chairman, Colin Gray, for further information.