Pond History - Overview
First records (1640) show the Slipper Mill Pond site as Norton Common, belonging to the Manor of Stansted and being an open space with the River Ems in the middle.
The "Lord's Mill", in the vicinity of the pond, was the first of the Emsworth mills to be operational, drawing its power by diverting the Ems with a leat (channel supplying a mill) starting at "Constant Springs" just below Lumley Mill. It was widened for its last 400 metres above the mill to form a linear pond. Its outfall continued on to the sea, probably to the West of the present course of Dolphin Creek.
This could be the reason for the original County Boundary being located on land rather than using the bed of an existing water course. [This boundary was repositioned at the request of the residents of King's Quay in the 1980's as part of their resolution of title issues.]
East Bank - 1920s
The first Slipper Mill was built in the 1760's by Thomas Hendy as part of his industrial developments at the mouth of the River Ems. Norton Common was enclosed to form the pond; it is possible that construction was made easier by avoiding diverting the Ems from its track along the then county boundary until the end of the works. It is probable that excavation of the current bed of the Ems provided much of the fill needed for the quay and slips and the bank for the pond at the same time.
The main Chichester to Portsmouth road used to cross the pond by a tide wade-way marked by stakes with a bridge to cross the stream bed. No doubt those gave rise to the name "Stakes Pond" and "Stakes Bridge".
By the mid-19th Century the tide-driven Slipper Mill together with the Quay tide mill was part of a complex of four working mills in Emsworth. Later, the area north of Hendy's Quay (now occupied by the Kings Quay housing estate) was the site of a sawmill, boatyard and slipway, where JD Foster built the famous Emsworth Oyster fishing fleet.
In 1867 a fifth mill, New Slipper Mill, was built to the South, but the tidal millrace, located by the gap in the marina's north wall, never worked effectively so a steam engine was planned. In 1886 this mill was destroyed by fire before it became operational and its pond, (known locally as Big Bunny, now where Emsworth Marina is) was used for seasoning timber for Foster's Yard.
Norton Common - 1640
Note the Ems flowing from top to bottom and the road to Chichester from left to right.
(thanks to Chichester Records Office)
1879 - Note Stakes Bridge at the North end of the Pond
(Image produced from the
service with permission of Landmark Information Group Ltd
& Ordnance Survey)
(thanks to Tony Yoward)
Slipper Mill ceased functioning in 1936 and the mill and pond were later sold.
In the late 1960s the pond was dredged and the steam engine's chimney removed during the construction of the marina. The Kings Quay housing estate was built on the now disused industrial land.
In the 1970s and 80s the residents and the developer of Roundhouse Meadow created the paved Slipper Road as we know it today from the East shore of the pond and in the 1990s the old garage and workshops on Chequer's Quay were redeveloped.
In 1988 the Emsworth Inner By-pass was opened and through traffic no longer used Queen Street and the centre of the village.
The pond now forms part of the East branch of the River Ems and is classified by the Environment Agency as a "Main River", as is the West branch.
A detailed timeline can be found here.
1930s Aerial photo showing the south end of the pond, Slipper Mill and the industrial area on King's Quay
1946 Aerial Photo
1965 Aerial Photo - showing Big Bunny before it became Emsworth Marina
"The Hermitage and the Slipper" - David J. Rudkin - First printed - 1974
"Chichester Harbour - A History" - John Reger - Phillimore & Co.Ltd. - ISBN 1 86077 019 3
Archaeology Framework produced for the Chichester Harbour Conservancy
Tony Yoward - personal notes
Slipper Mill Pond Preservation Association - papers and minutes