Hampden Pond was enlarged in the 18th century to provide water for the canal system and is thought to have been the two village ponds shown to exist in 1302. Parish Council minutes dating back to 1894 record the water levels rising and falling with the water table time and time again. Despite calling in experts over the years there was little that could be done. In 1944 it dried out and did not return to a sustainable level. By 1946 Wendover Fishing Club decided Hampden Pond was not suitable for angling and ceased to use. In 1949 the pond was still dry, and the fishing club removed their boat
The pond is approximately 6047 m² including an island of 222 m², giving a total area of open water of 5825 m². The depth is variable and in 2013 a specialist pond company considered the pond has an average depth of 1.4 metres and a maximum depth of 2.2 metres with the deepest area being that to the west of the island.
The pond sits on a chalk bed and due to the porous nature of chalk there are considerable differences in the water level within the pond. Whilst there is anecdotal evidence of leakage, it is believed that the pond simply tracks the level of the water table and whilst there is certainly the ability for water to discharge into the pond this not a reliable source and is simply surface water drainage. There is, also anecdotal evidence of recharge of water from a spring close to the pond but it is believed this was diverted as part of the construction of the Wendover by-pass meaning there is no constant recharge for the pond.
The pond consists of two distinct pools, the larger is orientated in line with Church Lane and bordered by the Heron Path, the smaller is bordered by South Street. The two pools are separated by a small island of trees and shrubs.
September 2019 Update:
In late 2017 the pond water levels were again very low. The fish were removed from the pond due to the low water table and fishing was suspended following advice from the Environmental Agency. The fish were unfortunately diseased, and due to parasites were only permitted to be moved if an empty pond was found. Thankfully Weston Turville Golf Club had such a pond, and the fish went to a new home.
Two years later, September 2019 the water table is again very low, and we have had reason to reach out to the Environmental Agency again. On their advice another sweep of the pond will be done and any fish caught will be removed. It is hoped that once again they can be moved to Weston Turville Gold Club Pond. Fishing at the Pond is therefore no longer permitted and signage to this affect has been positioned around the pond.
Over the years it has been widely presented to the Parish Council that the pond has a leak, but in fact the pond is simply a hollow in porous ground that fills with water when the ground water rises. Chalk is an exceptionally poor material to create a pond with and the existence of a pond at all is a minor miracle, made possible only by the relatively ease of travel of the ground water through porous strata when groundwater is available.
It would be theoretically possible to line the pond although the expense of this would be considerable. The difficulty is that the water comes from the same source as it leaves and by lining the pond there would be very limited access to recharge other than what would flow in during the rare occasions when flood water is diverted through the pond. In such ponds, an intricate irrigation system would need to be created under any liner to allow water (and more importantly air) to escape the pond without lifting the liner. Given the vagrancies of the recharge, it is unlikely that either a clay or artificial liner would have a great lifespan, meaning that a budget would need to be found for either replacement or repairs of the liner on a 5 – 15 years basis. The initial works would cost £125K-£150K, we would then need to budget for repairs/replacements every 5 years.
A further future potential risk to the water levels at Hampden Pond is the engineering works associated with HS2. It is not understood what, if any, impact this will have to the pond and it may be that, given the drainage works shown on the official HS2 Limited map , that there will be an improvement in recharge but this is far from assured and it may just as easily have a detrimental effect on water levels in the future.
Investment of tax payers money to improve the pond, not knowing the impact of HS2 would be an unwise decision. Until more is known, WPC will continue to monitor and instruct our pond contractor to conduct yearly maintenance works.
October 2019 Update:
Due to the rainfall the levels in the pond have been up and down over the last 2 weeks, however, overall the levels remain very low and a contractor removed the fish on Friday the 18th October 2019 to a local fishery. You can read the full report HERE.
Our pond maintenance schedule will resume next week (21st October 2019), and another contractor will be on site at the pond to complete maintenance duties including the removal of the lilies.
The pond is checked daily and the Council will be considering future improvements for this lovely community asset.