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: 8th October 2021
The Pond is drained from time to time during the winter months (late September-January inclusive) to help get rid of any silt, enable up-stream valves to be serviced, and allow inspection of the sluice and gates. It is also a good opportunity to pick litter and carry out any repairs (eg to boxing round the west bank 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.The tidal gates were last opened 11th-18th January - while the Pond was drained, we are took the opportunity to inspect the new Sluice Gate and the heavy wooden beam that sits above the tidal gates.
The Tidal Gates and Sluice Gate were previously opened on 12th November for a month, in order to facilitate the repair works to the small sluice gate. The work was carried out by Nick Gates from Gates & Co based at Emsworth Marina.
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.
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 have our first full work party for a long time planned for Saturday 9th October. Tasks will include bank clearing after the recent strim, litter picking and wood preservative painting of the footbridge timber. Refreshments are 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.
Last winter we cut back two sections of the common reeds at the north of Slipper Road, as part of our strategy to reduce their spread. We have also 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 some more dog rose and sea buckthorn and are continuing to develop a 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 next event is the AGM which is planned for Friday 29th October at 7.30pm at the new location of the Community Centre (behind the Museum).
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.
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.