Our Pond - a Haven for Wildlife

Welcome to the Slipper Mill Pond Preservation Association.  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 Association 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 a 'Site of Nature Conservation Importance' and home to many special species.  It is inside the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is part of the 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.  The SMPPA Manages the Pond on behalf of the owners.

Tidal Gate Opening Dates - Pond Draining

Next date:  1st February 2022 (last dates 2 January, 4 December, 5 November & 8 October)

We open the tidal gates to drain the Pond, generally 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.

  • There have been problems with Cast Net Fishing this year.  The Rural Crime Squad and EA want to eradicate this type of fishing as it is a crime.  It should be reported by calling 999 quoting crime number 935 and the date, and stating that the call is for the Rural Crime Squad.  If you feel able and safe to do so, they have asked us to video the perpetrators while using the cast net.

  • The increased amount of line fishing this year has also resulted in fishing lines getting caught on the perches in the water. Peter Pond has sadly had a coot chick killed by fishing line and cygnet injured by a fishing hook.  More information on our Fishing page, which includes our Fishing Policy.

Disturbances and Youths Jumping from Footbridge

This continues to be a problem at high evening tides when the weather is warm.  The Police have requested that we call 101 if large groups gather on the bridge blocking the footpath or causing a disturbance.  If there is any abuse (verbal or physical) to call 999.  In this way they can build up a picture of the problem and get regular patrols to visit the area instead of just driving past Slipper Road.  If you do ring please quote PCSO Baylee Reed of Sussex Police for tracking purposes.

Dogs on Leads - 1st April - 31st August

When wildfowl are breeding around the edge of the Pond, we request that dog walkers keep their dogs on leads. This is for your dog's safety too as adult swans can get very aggressive during the breeding/ nesting season.

How you can Help....... We are looking for..............

Some of the Jobs we do

  • As advised by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, in early October a small team strimmed the east bank.  By this time of year all the wildflowers have dropped their seeds, and removing the arisings straight afterwards will reduce 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.

  • During the winter we 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.

  • We have cut back the north-east section of the common reeds at the north of Slipper Road, as part of our strategy to reduce their spread. We also cut back and removed many non-indigenous plants and garden "escapees" in 2021, in order to prioritise native species.

  • We have sown wildflower seeds on the Pond banks and planted some 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 various other maintenance works planned, including brick pointing on the walls near the tidal gates.

  • We are looking at options around repairing the sluice apron/outfall and are looking to build up a contingency fund for this.


The most recent event was the AGM which took place on Friday 29th October at 7.30pm at the new location of the Community Centre (behind the Museum).

We are hoping to hold a Spring Talk in late March/early April - details to be confirmed.

Our first  event since the pandemic started was the Summer Garden Party which took place on Sunday 15th August.  It was terrific to have around 50 members join us, in spite of the cool and windy weather.

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


Our latest (July 2021) 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.

The SMPPA Sponsored Broomfield Schools Photographic Competition did not take place in 2020 or 2021 as the Emsworth Arts Trail was cancelled.  The next Competition is now planned for Spring 2022.

The competition is usually launched during February/March with presentations to the six participating schools. The private prize giving ceremony is then held in the Community Centre and the winning photos displayed during Emsworth Arts Trail and afterwards at the Emsworth Co-op.  

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.