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The picturesque and popular Causeway Pond, situated opposite the Tudor Causeway Farm farmhouse, is one of the most visited of village features but in 1998 the Parish Council recognized a potentially hazardous situation on its West bank which, following consultation with the Environment Agency whereby wavelets created by the wind blowing off the adjacent golf course, coupled with water movement generated by the local duck and goose population had seriously eroded the underside of the bank which was beginning to collapse into the pond. As the bank was, in some places, 1.5m high, this presented a serious hazard to those visiting the area, particularly small children who enjoy feeding the resident wildfowl.
The landowner, Hart District Council was unable to fund the work necessary to address the matter and erected hazard tape and warning notices in the area but the Parish Council did not consider this a satisfactory response and having again consulted with the Environment Agency and obtained the consent of the landowner, implemented a project to eliminate the erosion problem.
The bank was re-graded to reduce its height to no more than 300mm at the water edge with a 900mm level area immediately behind leading to a 13% gradient to meet the original surrounding ground level. Treated timber stakes were then driven vertically into the front of the bank and 150mm deep timber fixed - ½ above, ½ below water level to protect the foot of the bank. Locally cut Hazel was then used to form a 300mm high woven front face to the bank, behind which hessian was attached to retain the compacted top soil used to complete the reconstruction of the pond edge; to allow wildfowl to continue to access the pond, two 'beaches' were created using a pea shingle surface to protect the soil. The completed site was then broadcast using a proprietary mixture of wildflower/grass seed.
The project cost, £2,000.00, was met from the Parish Council Environmental Maintenance budget and was completed within the five day programme by Mark Hazell and Derek Hughes with additional assistance from volunteer, Jim Reed.
The 1998 Country Towns Initiative improvements to Hartley Wintney High Street provided the Parish Council with an opportunity to carry out improvements to Hattons Pond, a central feature of the village. The narrowing of the A30 from twin to single carriageway created a new grassed area on the road (North) side of the pond but while this was a welcome element of the scheme, it meant that the public would have faced a 1.0m high drop into the pond if the revetment boards, installed by Hart District Council, all remained in place.
Apart from wishing to mitigate the safety hazard created by the High Street improvements, the Parish Council also wished to address other problems associated with the pond - reducing the oil based pollution resulting from it being fed primarily from road run-offs on the A30 and opening up the South side of the site to facilitate public access.
After seeking advice from the Environmental Agency, Hampshire Wildlife Trust and MMG Civil Engineering Systems a proposal was submitted to Hart District Council which, after protracted discussions, eventually consented to a proposal to a reduction in the height of the revetment and the initiation of a planting regime in the pond and its feeder ditches; it also agreed that a redundant ditch on the South side of the pond could be filled in, an overgrown area of Dogwood cut back to generate new, low growth to provide shelter for the ducks on the pond and access to the area improved by providing a bridge over the main feeder.
The work was carried out in Autumn 1998 by Mark Hazell, assisted by Phil Hart and within a few months, the use of coir planting around the pond perimeter had achieved its objective; for the first time in over 50 years the pond edges were covered by aquatic and marginal plants; it has proved so successful that consideration is being given to cutting back the plants. The planting in the feeder ditches has also been successful and the previously regular sight of oil based pollution on the water surface of the pond is no longer apparent.
Dilly Pond Restoration
Dilly Pond is probably the last remaining physical feature of the Medieval village which was focused around St. Mary's Church, half a mile from the centre of what is now the village of Hartley Wintney. Old pictures show it as a watering pond for cattle, a role it played for several centuries before the village moved North as improvements in road links between London and the West Country resulted in what is know the A30 becoming a major route for traffic.
Now fed primarily from road run-offs, the pond also served for many years as a useful receptacle for slurry washed down from the nearby farm; this, by its composition, controlled the growth of invasive flora in the pond but the farm's move from livestock to arable meant that plants such as Reed Mace were able to become well established and soon Dilly Pond was almost lost to view.
Several attempts were made in the seventies to clear the pond of its mass of Reed Mace and associated flora, as well as the accumulated silt and farm waste, but these were always unsuccessful because the entire area was never cleared and within a few weeks, invasive growth had again taken hold. As recently as 1998 partial clearance of Reed Mace was undertaken by an enthusiastic young professional Ranger employed by the Parish Council under a Service Level Agreement with Hart District Council but within three months he and his colleagues were obliged to return to the site to clear new growth and within six months water was barely visible through the Reed Mace.
In late 1998, the Parish Council made budget provision to completely dredge the pond to expose its clay base and following enquiries to four companies, the contract was let to Dave Miller (Plant) Ltd. of Sherfield on Loddon. In August 1999, the pond was drained and over a three day period in September, 200 cu.m of accumulated silt, slurry and invasive flora was removed. Heavy rain days later quickly refilled the pond and within a few weeks the water had settled and the site began to look finished.
The safety fence was repaired and re-painted as part of the project and the water supply to the pond improved when a number of nearby road drainage gullies feeding it were cleaned. In the autumn, over 200 wild flower plugs were planted on the pond edge, inside the fenced area which will remain un-cut, and today the pond, which is inspected weekly to monitor any re-appearance of invasive flora, provides Hartley Wintney with one of its most attractive features.