Pond Project 2005-2006

The vision of a few people has become a reality as a result of a lot of hard work – and some financial support from outside sources. The main funding for the ponds came from the Northern Marches Leader + Programme, but other smaller amounts have been provided by Muller, Advantage West Midlands, the North Shropshire Countryside Service, and Berry ’s. Most importantly the ponds themselves are being gifted to the village by the Heywood-Lonsdale family and Trustees.

As many of you will know the ponds lie on either side of the Calverhall to Prees road. They had originally been clay pits used to supply clay for brick making but since this use ended they had become overgrown and in recent years they overflowed in winter partially flooding fields and the road damaging the surface. In warmer weather they could have a distinctive aroma! In this state they did not provide a good habitat for wildlife, or an enjoyable asset for the village.

I felt this could be changed and along with a small group of friends and neighbours we set about planning a programme of work which would see the waste vegetation cleared, the ponds restored to their original size, both areas fenced and planted around the perimeter with a variety of species. The ongoing maintenance will now be taken over by the Village Hall Management Committee.

This project was originally put forward as a Millennium project but proved to be more complex than originally thought and took several years to get underway. Low points included having to gain permission to re-route dirty water formerly draining into the pond across adjacent land. High points included revealing the causeway across the Smithy Pool which had originally been used to provide access to horse drawn carts across the pits and has been retained as a shallow section of the pool.

With the planning behind us the ‘hands on’ work began in October 2005 and has now been completed. A lot of people, including many children and youngsters put in a lot of hard work, showing real commitment - one day the temperature never rose above freezing! We all had a lot of fun and a sense of community spirit grew and grew. We even had ‘outsiders’ involved – visitors and friends who were roped in or wanted to come along and help.

The project has cost around £15,000 with £9000 coming from Leader + under their ‘Making best use of natural and cultural resources’, one of their main themes. Over £4000 has been provided as in kind support from volunteers who gave their time, machinery, equipment and plant material, a major part of our funding, and has helped us to carry out the necessary work of clearing, dredging, fencing and planting.

Far too many people have been involved to mention individually but they know who they are and without them we could never have achieved so much. There is one person I would like to mention who has supported me throughout and helped me with so many of the tasks that had to be done – that is Paul Dutton. Two heads were much better than one with some of the challenges and I am grateful for all his time and effort behind the scenes.

On June 10 th we will have an official opening and everyone is welcome to come along starting at the village hall at 12 noon.

We have had excellent feedback from many people as the project has progressed, which makes it all worthwhile. I know that the ponds will give endless pleasure to so many and will provide an attractive entrance to the village. It will also encourage wildlife and be pleasant place to walk down to and enjoy as it develops. My thanks again to everyone who has taken part – Well done!

Paul Griffiths

Update March 2007

Last March many of us spent hours planting hedging, generously donated by Shropshire County Council, from the ''Trees for a living landscape'' project run by Shaun Burkey and Clive Dean from the countryside project offices at Ellesmere. 1200 plants in total were gifted, consisting of severn different species - Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Guelder rose, Dog rose, Field Maple, Holly etc plus 4 types of trees - Oak, Ash, Beech and Silver Birch.

Of the 1200 we planted, around 200 hedging plants and 1 Beech tree succumed to the summer dought of 2006. Thankfuly these were replaced by the same countryside project at Ellesmere and by the kind support and help of Shaun Burkey again.

The replanting took place on the 24th of March 2007 by a group of 10 - 14 willing helpers and our pond project members. Also Peter Green and Sue Bower donated 2 new Beech trees - Many thanks to them.

So apart from a little annual maintenance the Ponds Project is finally completed. Well done to all of you that have been involved.

Paul Griffiths