DIG Article for Hughenden News Spring issue

HVRA Drainage Improvement Group

The Dew Pond

Along the footpath between Valley Road and Boss Lane, in the field on the right is a concrete lined pond shaded by a pretty Weeping Ash (albeit leafless at present). Locals will know this as the Dew Pond, put there for the watering of livestock.

The origins of dew ponds lie in pre-history, but are generally regarded as shallow depressions in grazing areas traditionally lined with puddling clay or chalk and allowed to fill themselves from moisture in the air. In practice it is generally considered that traditional dew ponds are just as likely to be filled by water runoff from the fields and, of course, rainfall. Essentially, a dew pond is an artificial rather than a natural feature. Most have largely disappeared and replaced by piped water supply.

The pond on Boss Lane Farm is a concrete construct, a relatively modern method introduced in the early 1900’s, but clearly used on many farms and this one fits the standard profile. The pond is not filled these days and the original tree (see both pictures) is possibly suffering from old age and Ash die back.

In the early days it seems likely that being adjacent to the Hughenden Winterbourne Stream, when the stream flowed it would feed the pond as it still does today. At some point a water supply was laid to enable water to be pumped from two wells on the farm to fill the pond.

As it happens, the pond is just on a hundred years old, built by a former owner of Boss Lane Farm somewhere between 1918 and 1922. Two photos accompany this article, one recently taken and the other, grainy picture is believed to be from the early 1930’s.

So, is this a proper dew pond? Well, yes, it would certainly seem so despite being later updated to a pumped water supply. And it may be that the pond we see was created where an earlier dew pond sat. To make a feature of the pond it would require restoration involving re-lining and a new water supply, possibly from a borehole, which would be an expensive process.

Long may it live as a rather nice village feature.

Thanks to Matt Hopkins for his help in putting this together.

DIG Activities

The winter has been relatively kind to us this year – it has been generally mild, not too wet and while the Hughenden Stream continues to flow merrily through the park, it is dry in its upper reaches.

The DIG will meet in March to discuss plans by the utility companies affecting the Valley and to plan our activities for the year. Typical work we are looking to get done this year include:

  • Fixing of puddling at the foot of Trees Road by TfB (In the budget, we understand)
  • Surveying and clearance of culverts & drains at the pumping station site by Affinity (promised last year…)
  • Continued work on monitoring and further lining of the Hughenden Sewer to prevent surface water ingress by Thames Water. (Apparently 139 metres along Warrendene Rd were lined last year).

Paul Woodford