The Race-Around Pond

Not many users of the Heath know that we have two ponds on the Heath.

The most obvious one is near the main car park that was dug out and restored in 1985. Volunteers still refer to that pond as Birkin pond after the Birkin family, owners of the Manor House Farm for many years, who used to water their cows in the 1930s.

The 2nd pond has the unusual name of the Race-Around Pond. Centuries ago, the Heath was used by gypsies when selling their ponies. This pony sale became the Heath fair. Appartently to show the strength of the ponies, races were introduced along a racetrack along the large open space beyond the Birkin pond.
In those days there was a pond at the end of the space which, you can guess, the racetrack went around and back again.

The pond was dug out in 1984/5 by volunteers, and then de-silted it in 1990, in 1999 and again in 2003. Since 2001, Pam and Peter Wilson, 2 pond experts from Colchester, have carried out surveys there once or twice a year. From the surveys, a number of Red Data (rare) organisms have been discovered, and the pond is a confirmed wildlife haven.

race-around_oldHowever, the pond readily clogs up with the surrounding vegetation - birch trees and reeds. BTCV cut back the reeds each year for us, but it is rampant when they return. In 2009 the survey showed a significant drop of the Red Data species, and we became concerned about the state of the water.





Normal volunteer activity doesnt give us enough time to clear the vegetation... but recently we were offered the help of the army in Colchester. Four soldiers and their sergeant came along in late 2009, expecting a week's work to open up the clearing of the pond, and to help protect its boundaries. After a day of slashing and sawing showed an amazing difference. As soon as the pond was opened to the air and light, it seemed to breathe again.

race-around_new race-around_new With their wonderfull efforts, work was completed in two and half days, and we can now see the outline of the pond. The pond is about a third of its original size.






Having seen the cleared area and the state of the pond, it was decided that it should be enlarged to about twice its surface area to improve the habitat for the creatures and plants that live there.
To minimise disruption to the wildlife, the work was started on 19th February 2010. The excavation created a considerable amount of spoil, which was used to close off the nearby area that had been traditionally used as a Car Park.
Closing this should help reduce pollution caused by lorries that parked there.


We only have the general history of the pond - please contact us if you have more or different details.