In the late 1970s East Blatchington was designated as a Conservation Area and it was felt by many local people that this was a good time to make a positive contribution by restoring the pond at the bottom of Blatchington Hill. As the site is owned by the local Council, they were asked to investigate the possibility of restoration, but after consideration they reported that the job could not be done without considerable expenditure and the employment of specialist labour and was not, therefore, a feasible proposition.

The pond looking very small and dried out prior to the restoration

Undaunted, the residents held a public meeting to canvass support for a ‘do-it-yourself’ project. Such was the enthusiastic response that during the following summer, £2,000 was raised for the work and a committee was formed to carry it out under the inspirational Chairmanship of the late Mrs Madge Lewis.

Digging out the pond and laying the liner – see more photos below

Work began in the winter of 1980 and the initial task was to stick together three rolls of heavy duty polythene to form the lining, which was done in a barn at the Seven Sisters Country Park centre. Using the farm seemed like a good idea at the time but the combined weight of the rolls was some 150 kilograms and lifting it all into a trailer for transporting to the site and out again without damaging it was no mean feat! An excavator was hired to remove the accumulated silt of many years and also the original clay lining which was banked up around the site, forming a mound 6 metres high. The daunting task of laying the polythene and covering it with turf began, with extra sheets being joined in situ. In all, an area of 64 x 28 metres had to be covered, so it was an enormous job, particularly as no more than ten people were involved. As soon as the turf had been laid, the final 45 centimetres of clay was backfilled by the machine. An island was formed at one end made of large pipes (kindly donated by the Forestry Commission) which were stood on end and surrounded by wire netting, the structure being covered with soil. By the end of the project, about 1,000 tonnes of soil had been moved and 215 square metres of polythene laid, involving about 75 man days of work.

Building the foundations of the island
Cedric at work in the enormous hole!
Liner with the island in construction behind
Creating the pond margin and wall near to the current path (above and below)
Work on the bank nearest Sutton Drove, next to the sluice with newly installed rails
Work nearly finished!

%d bloggers like this: