Friday, February 10, 2012

Historic pond rediscovered in Highbury Park, Moseley

A long hidden pond at Highbury Park has been re-discovered as part of a £170,000 investment in the park. For more details on this programme of works, see my blog entry at

The pond that has been re-discovered is the Oak Tree Pond, immediately to the north of the Italian Gardens. I attach a map of the park, showing the location of the pond, plus photos of the pond itself.

The pond has been completely hidden from view by vegetation for at least 30 years. The existence of this pond only came to light in a recent historic survey of the park. The survey can be seen at The pond was originally part of the ornate gardens of Joseph Chamberlain’s Highbury Hall. It is called the Oak Tree Pond after the prominent 200 year oak that existed next to it and is now just a large dead tree trunk.

As part of the £170,000 investment, all the laurel bushes around this pond have been cut back to reveal the original size of the pond, which in area is equal to half a tennis court. Edging features and an overflow drain can now be seen, which show the original level of the pond. At the moment the pond is three feet below it s original level and we hope this is due to the excessively dry weather over the last twelve months.

I attach photos of the revealed pond, that I took this afternoon. More trimming back will take place next week to further reveal parts of the pond, including an island. We are also interested in any groups of volunteers – especially companies looking for projects – who would like to de-silt this pond.

Also we’ve cut back laurel bushes around the edge of the main pond in Highbury Park. This has opened up the pond, revealing the southern edge of the pond.

The laurels have killed all life in the main pond, since the rotting leaves of these laurels create hydrogen cyanide, which in water becomes prussic acid. The resulting high acid level means no fish or anything can live in this pond. This lack of life also explains why the pond is so crystal clear, since there are no creatures to disturb the pond silt. With the complete lack of pond life, the only ducks that habit the pond are mallards, which are dabbling ducks (ie they live off floating vegetation or invertebrates that fall into the pond).

By cutting back the laurels, we are hoping to significantly reduce the acidity of the pond and re-introduce fish into the pond. This in turn will attract a greater variety of birds, including great crested grebes.








At 3:43 PM, Blogger MPA said...

What has been done around the pond(s) and pathways has already made a dramatic, positive difference and it is really exciting to see real, meaningful things being done.


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