Brighton and Hove City Council own most if not all the farmland within
and adjacent to their borders.
Much is on lease to tenant farmers, who have to
pay a rent to the finance department, it might be thought that this arrangement
could be at variance to any desire for
conservation that the ratepayers may have.
All the council owned farmland is administered by the Estates Section of the
Performance and Resources Department of the City Council.
I was pleased to note that there is a Countryside Service, which has
been involved in a number of restorations of Dewponds, which lie on land owned by the
city, though not necessarily within it's administrative borders. They are also
responsible, among other duties, for the ongoing management of the ponds for
wildlife and amenity.
I am pleased to feature this contribution from one of their rangers :-
From David Larkin (Countryside Ranger) -
Having worked on the restoration of several dew ponds for Brighton & Hove
The modern method is:-
Re-profile the site (silt builds up in the centre more than the edges)
Remove large flints (to prevent liner being damaged)
Spread Teram over the area ( a tough protective "cloth")
Spread liner, we were using butyl but are now using heavy gauge, virtually tear proof
0.5mm PVC (which can be welded into 20x40m
strips in the factory) as it is a lot cheaper
Spread another layer of Terram
Spread a layer of clay about 1ft thick
A liner is necessary in most ponds now as we no longer have the patter of sheep's feet to
re-puddle the clay as the pond refills over
Straw was used to protect the liner and should not rot too quickly in anaerobic conditions but Terram is
stronger and should not rot at all. The clay can be quite a problem, quarry bottoms are cheapest, but the
wrong sort of clay slumps and exposes the liner.
Unfortunately this method is not very successful where there are cows present as they puncture the liner.
I have seen an example of a stone
pitched pond in the Chilterns (I think) but would be interested in any ideas on how to construct a cow proof dew pond.
Prior to restoration I have had some trial excavations done, there was no evidence of any clay in the pond
Bevendean. I assume this was
puddled chalk of which there are references in the literature (the base for new coast road at Black Rock was created by spraying and
rolling the chalk).
The pond on Hollingbury Hill shown on the 1970
map was originally built of local clay, then concreted over, before being backfilled with the remains of an adjacent barn to make a green
for the golf course in the 1930's. This subsequently went out of use and the whole area was
densely scrubbed over prior to restoration.
Hopefully the drawings from this excavation will get published eventually.
Images of restoration
I seem to recall Oxen were used for puddling, pulling a wide wheeled cart full of stones around, this would have been during relatively dry weather,
possibly laying a layer, wetting it, puddling it, then laying another layer, etc, I think this is how the chalk ponds were done. Quite different
from having them in the pond all year.
I remember reading of experiments with mica at the turn of the century into the heat effects around dew ponds, I think they
were inconclusive as vandals ended the experiment prematurely,
From memory Brighton Council/Brighton & Hove Council have restored the
following dew ponds
Ditchling Beacon (following clearance of munitions by army)
Lotts Pond, Stanmer Woods (concrete, 1980's MSC team)
Varncoombe Hill, Waterhall Farm
Sweet Hill, Waterhall Farm
Piddingworth, Stanmer Park
Rock Pond, Standean Farm
Tanners Pond, Standean Farm
Falmer Hill, Falmer Court Farm (Removal of silt)
and created dew ponds at
East Brighton Golf Course
© David Larkin 2001
Used with thanks
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