FLEET POND LOCAL NATURE RESERVE. The early days of Fleet Pond .
The early days of Fleet Pond.
A selection of old photographs. Those from the 19th and early years of 20th Century from Percy Vickery’s huge collection of postcards and photographs of Fleet and Church Crookham. The later 20th Century ones, prior to the formation of Fleet Pond Society in 1976, are from a large collection of prints and slides donated by Kay Woodward. Fleet Pond Society is grateful to Kay and Percy for permission to use these fascinating glimpses into the past.
Added for your further amusement and enlightenment are some maps and a cartoon or two.
Fleet Pond was constructed at the instruction of the Bishop or Winchester in the 10th or 11th Century to provide a source of food for local farms and villages within the Crondall Hundred. The Crondall Hundred was a gift to the Bishopric by King Edgar as gratitude for their support in making him King of all England AD973. The tenant farmer of Fleet Farm, whose land included the Pond, paid his annual rental to Winchester with 100 fishes “delivered fresh to Winchester”.
This map of 1791 clearly shows Fleet Pond and Fleet Mill but note Fleet does not exist even as a village. Fleet began to develop much later when the railway line was constructed in 1836-1847.
An engraving of Fleet Mill dated 1817. By this time Fleet Pond was well established as the head of water which fed the mill stream and mill pond.
Fleet Mill in 1940 when it last milled flour. The mill closed in 1940 and has since been demolished and replaced with a modern office block.
The first station, called Fleet Pond Halt, was built in 1847. This served the Pond as a weekend retreat for Victorian Londoners escaping the noise and smells of the city. The clean air and the opportunities for picnics and boating that the Pond offered lead to many new, large houses being built along Fleet Road. Fleet town began.
The early 1900s.Percy Vickery’s collection includes a lot of postcards and photographs which have no date. They are likely to have been taken in the early part of the 20th Century. The next few pictures are of the time when Fleet Pond was much larger than it is today.
From the founding of the Aldershot Military Garrison in 1854 until 1972, Fleet Pond formed part of the military training lands. The Army built many constructions on and over the pond. At one time a steel bridge spanned the whole pond. This jetty was built to give access to Army boats
Float plane trials at Fleet Pond were conducted by Geoffrey de Haviland. Colonel Cody preferred to use the Basingstoke Canal which was nearer to his base at Laffans Plain
Failed float plane designs had interesting side benefits. Two local gentlemen rescued an abandoned float and converted it into an ice boat.
In the second World War Fleet Pond was drained to ensure it could not be used as a landmark for enemy bombers seeking to attack Farnborough Royal Aircraft Establishment.
incident during World War II
while the Pond was drained.
A view of Fleet Pond from the southeast. The supports of the old military jetty are still visible but none of the upper structure remains. This undated photograph is therefore possibly taken in the 1920s or 1930s.
A view along the east side of the Pond. The large, open MoD field can be seen between the trees in the background. Note that the sand banks are covered in heather and gorse. The view today is obscured by expansive tree growth and trees have colonised the lower area since the Pond level was lowered.
This view looks towards the railway embankment from somewhere near Chestnut Grove. The picture has no date but the lack of reedbed edge and trees would indicate pre World War II.
A view from the northwest corner pre WW II. Percy Vickery said that boats could be hired from the club on the small or club pond and rowers would often use the outflow tunnel to gain access to the main pond.
A picture which shows that water lilies flourished in the Pond before it was drained. Many returned (or were replaced) after the war but very few survive today.