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 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 Interest' and home to many special species.
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 nearly 7 acres 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
Next date: September
The gates were last opened in mid January using the last opportunity to drain the pond before the forthcoming breeding season.
In the coming Autumn we will be opening them again during Spring Tides as part of the pond management routine to help to flush out accumulated silt in particular.
The Pond is drained from time to time during the winter months to help get rid of any silt, enable up-stream valves to be serviced, and allow inspection of the sluice and gates.
The Annual Dinner held at the Brookfield Hotel at the end of November was a big success. The food was excellent and we hope that you enjoyed the new format of entertainment.
Thankyou to all of those who joined us and helped raise over £650 in funds for the Pond.
We hope to see lots of you again next year - the date is Friday 20th November 2020.
More details on future events and dates can be found on our events page.
Our latest (May 2019) newsletter is now available here.
Other Newsletters are available on our newsletters page.
In addition we have wildlife books, notelets and postcards available to purchase here.
Sadly the SMPPA Sponsored Broomfield Schools Photographic Competition will not take place this year as the Emsworth Arts Trail has been cancelled.
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.
The footbridge at the South end of Slipper Mill Pond was strengthened and a timber balustrade installed in 1993 but recently it has needed many repairs. After the urgent replacement of one of the sections of the top rail last summer it was decided that action needed to be taken before the spring.
Following discussions with the West Sussex Rights of Way team and others, a complete redesign of the bridge proved too costly and would have caused much delay. As the uprights on the bridge are considered to have some ten years of life in them, it was decided to replace all the horizontal members only.
The work was done using our own volunteers who had suitable experience. Materials and fixings were chosen carefully bearing in mind that the end product was expected to last as long as the posts. In the end we spent about £1,000 on materials as against professional offers in excess of £4,000, a considerable saving.
Work took around 5 sessions, starting at the end of February. The bridge was not closed as at all times we posted a watchman to warn the team to allow free passage for users of the public footpath. In reality it provided welcome opportunities for a breather and relaxation, a chat with passing friends, interaction with assorted dogs and an admiration of babies in prams as they crossed the bridge.
The refurbished footbridge - with grateful thanks to our volunteers as ever
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In mid-January we were at the mercy of two storms with high winds, a tidal surge of about 90cm and two flood warnings for the River Ems. There were no problems – the extreme tides covered the banks and fortunately were not high enough to flood upstream properties and the River Ems coped with the additional flows.
On the other hand the central bird raft split and doughty volunteers took to the water to repair it.
As an initial stage of the Sluice gate refurbishment project Nick Gates from Emsworth Marina has now fitted canvas on the upstream side to reduce leakage this summer (see photo).