Our Pond - a Haven for Wildlife in Emsworth
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. The SMPPA was founded in 1966 and is made up of volunteers, Members and Friends of the SMPPA who 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; it has been recognised as a Local Wildlife Site and '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 proposed Strategic Wildlife Corridor from Hermitage to Westbourne. The tidal gates and sluice are listed on the Southbourne Neighbourhood Parish Plan as important "Heritage Assets".
The Pond 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 April 2022 the Pond was gifted to the SMPPA who now owns and continues to manage the Pond. The article in THE EMS newspaper explains the background in more detail.
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Tidal Gate Opening Dates - Pond Draining
The gates were last opened on 29th September 2023 for 2 weeks, in advance of our work party planned for Saturday 7th October. The Pond being drained facilitated litter picking and maintenance work around the Pond, as well as enable work upstream at Peter Pond.
In general, we chain back the tidal gates to drain the Pond for a few days over spring tides in the winter months (late 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 remove litter, and carry out any repairs or work that needs doing on the water's edge.
We try to avoid draining the Pond from late February through early September due to the need to protect the wildlife during the breeding season. We therefore only open the gates in the spring or summer when we consider it to be an "emergency" situation.
Unusually, we also chained them back for a couple of days in Augusst 2022 in order to drain the Pond. Shortly after, the gates were released again and the sluice gate was used instead to keep the Pond at a lower level at low tide (but not drain it fully). This decision was taken following a number of incidents, with damage caused to surrounding property, graffiti and extreme antisocial behaviour from a small number of young people gathering on the south bank by the footbridge, jumping from the footbridge and swimming in the Pond. The Trustees felt this course of action was the only way to reduce these disturbances and to protect the pond banks, our historic infrastructure and the health and safety of people using the footpath. While we want everyone, including young people, to enjoy our beautiful pond, this enjoyment comes with a responsiblity to respect the environment and all that lives in it.
How you can Help....... We are looking for..............
Individuals or organisations to do Wildlife monitoring / Studies. We are a Local Wildlife Site, Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) and part of the Chichester District Council Strategic Wildlife Corridor.
Spread the word! Join the SMPPA! New Members are always welcome.
Useful contact numbers for Police, Reporting Wildlife in Distress, Pollution etc can be found here
Some of the Jobs we do
As a designated Local Wildlife Site (LWS) and 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.
Our October work party tasks (latest date was 7th October 2023) include bank clearing (strimming takes place in the week leading up to the work party), litter picking, and any repairs required to the tidal gates, footbridge, gabions etc.
We continue to sow wildflower seeds on the Pond banks and plant indigenous trees and shrubs such as dog rose, rowan, downy birch and sea buckthorn.
We continue to monitor the Pond banks and carry out repairs and strengthening as required.
FISHING - we revised our fishing policy in July 2022 - details can be found on our Fish, Bats & Mammals page
The Annual Dinner, our main fundraising event, will be held on Thursday 30th November at Emsworth Sailing Club as the Brookfield Hotel has been sold and is being refurbished. We are very excited about the change of venue.
We had a super Summer Garden Party in July, that was very well attended by our members.
More details on future events and dates can be found on our events page.
Our latest (July 2023) newsletter is available here.
A link to The EMS newspaper article about the ownership transfer can be found here.
In addition we have wildlife books, notelets and postcards available to purchase here.
The 2023 Competition is now closed. We have had some terrific entries from the 6 local schools that participate in the SMPPA Sponsored Broomfield Schools Photographic Competition.
The prizewinning photos can be found here. All entrants received a mounted copy of their photographs.
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 over the first May Bank Holiday weekend, with the 8 winning photos on display 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.