Our Pond - a Haven for Wildlife in Emsworth

Donate with JustGiving.png

Welcome to the Slipper Mill Pond Preservation Association (SMPPA).  We are a registered charity which exists to preserve and protect the Slipper Mill Pond in east Emsworth.  Made up of volunteers, Members and Friends of the SMPPA are responsible for the Pond's day to day management and maintenance. 


The Pond is a saline lagoon, a very rare wildlife habitat, both in the UK and Europe. The combination of sea and fresh water provides a unique brackish water environment which has been recognised as Local Wildlife Site and 'Site of Nature Conservation Interest' and home to many special species.  It is inside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AoNB) and is part of the proposed Strategic Wildlife Corridor from Hermitage to Westbourne.

It supports a rich invertebrate fauna including two protected species - the Tentacled Lagoon Worm and Starlet Sea Anemone.  It also has an interesting species of tube worm, which leaves tube-like casts, along with over 40 bird and 160 plant species, and several fish, particularly the grey mullet, which can be present in large numbers.


The pond covers an area of around 7 acres (3 hectares) and was built in the 1760s to provide power to drive the Slipper Mill, one of four working mills in Emsworth supplying meal for the Navy in Portsmouth. The tidal gates are pushed open as the sea breaks over the gates, and close as the tide turns, holding back the sea water which, in the past, powered the Mill.

The mill was in constant use until the 1960s when it was sold.  The Pond itself was bought by 33 local residents in 1980 off the then owners Slipper House, in order to prevent the Pond from being developed.  In 2022 the Pond was gifted to the SMPPA so it now manages and owns the Pond.

Tidal Gate Opening Dates - Pond Draining

Next date:  September 2022 (last dates were 2 February and 2 January 2022, and 4 December, 5 November & 8 October 2021)

We left the gates open for a week in February to facilitate the repairs to the sluice apron. This is likely to be the last time of opening the gates this year until late September.

In general, we open the tidal gates to drain the Pond, for a few days over spring tides in the winter months (September-January inclusive).  This is to help get rid of any silt, enable up-stream valves to be serviced (eg on Peter Pond), and allow inspection of the sluice and gates.  It is also a good opportunity to pick litter, carry out any repairs and cut back reeds on the water's edge.

We try to avoid opening it in other months due to the need to protect the wildlife in and around the Pond during the breeding season.

How you can Help....... We are looking for..............
Some of the Jobs we do
  • As advised by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, we only strim the east bank in early October, leaving it to grow wild the rest of the year.  By autumn, all the wildflowers have dropped their seeds, and removing the arisings straight after cutting reduces the regrowth of grass.

  • We had our first full work party for a long time on Saturday 9th October.  We had a fantastic turnout with around 30 helpers.  Tasks included bank clearing after the recent strim, litter picking and wood preservative painting of the footbridge timber.  Delicious cakes and refreshments were provided.

  • We have removed the old warning signs from the water as they were becoming outdated and unsightly.  We have replaced them with perching poles for the birds.

  • We have refreshed the information board signs on Slipper Mill wall and by the A259 and installed a new noticeboard on Slipper Mill wall which gives up to date information on more current activities.

  • We have cut back and removed many non-indigenous plants and garden "escapees", in order to prioritise native species.

  • We have sown wildflower seeds on the Pond banks and planted more dog rose and sea buckthorn and are continuing to develop our planting plan.

  • We have cleared the south-east corner, including the removal of a large asbestos tank and lots of netting that was buried in the ground, and repaired the field drain there. 

  • We have repaired the sluice apron to the south of the sluice gate.

  • We continue to monitor the Pond banks and carry out repairs and strengthening as required.

We had a very interesting and informative talk by Sarah Hughes, the Chichester Strategic Wildlife Corridors Project Officer (Chichester District Council) at the end of March.  

If you missed the talk, we would highly recommend that you try to hear her speak sometime as she has so much knowledge of wildlife in the local area. 


She gave an overview of the seven proposed corridors with an in-depth look at the Hermitage to Westbourne corridor, which includes the Slipper Mill Pond, a vitally important link from Chichester Harbour through to the South Downs via the River Ems.

More details on future events and dates can be found on our events page.        

Our latest (January 2022) newsletter is available here.

Other Newsletters are available on our newsletters page, along with a summary prepared by Nick Madinaveitia outlining many of the highlights of his 15 years as Chairman.

In addition we have wildlife books, notelets and postcards available to purchase here.

We had a record number of entries this year from the 6 local schools that participate in the SMPPA Sponsored Broomfield Schools Photographic Competition.

The prizewinning photos can be found here.

The private prize giving ceremony was held at the end of April and all photographs entered were on display at the Community Centre as part of the Emsworth Arts Trail from 30th April-2nd May inclusive and the 8 winners afterwards at the Emsworth Co-op.

A link to this year's show can be found on the Emsworth Arts Trail website.

Volunteers and friends are always welcome....


If you would like to support the work done by the SMPPA in preserving the Slipper Mill Pond, why not become a Member?  Full Membership (for households close to the Pond) is £15 per annum, and Friends / Well wishers £8.


More information on our Membership page.