The Village Pond – or is it?

Moira McQuaide Hall’s history of Burpham

Some people may be aware of the pond between the top of New Inn Lane and Merrow Lane. Most of the time, if you’re driving past, it is shrouded in the foliage and almost impossible to see. In the winter it is a bit easier to find.

The pond appeared on old Ordnance Survey maps in the 19th century, so has clearly been there for a long time. But is it a village pond? If so, then it’s rather out of the way, on the extreme edge of the old village, and almost in Merrow – in fact, until the coming of the London Road railway line, it was actually in Merrow parish.

1895 OS map showing pond in woodland on New Inn Lane.

In 1975 the BCA started a project to free up the area and used the George Abbot boys’ school Conservation Society to help clear the pond. Then in 1986 the BCA reported on another conservation project to clean and restore the pond. The headlines in the newsletter read ‘The Village Pond – Burpham’s best kept secret’.

The plan was to introduce plants and fish into the pond, which was already a habitat for newts, frogs and dragonflies, along with occasional visits from mallard ducks and deer. In about 2004 the BCA again reported that the pond was to be restored, but nothing seems to have come of this as there were no further reports.

The ‘Village Pond’ in 2016 (Photo: T Bass).

To the romantics among us it is nice to think that this was a village pond. Indeed, some people remember that it was a good place for young people to meet up in the woods by the pond, known as Middle Oak. However, a rather more practical suggestion has been that it was probably a traction engine water replenishment pond. Not quite so romantic an idea. Traction engines started to appear in the UK around the 1850s, so given that we have no earlier maps showing the pond this might be the correct answer. To this day there are still occasional traction engines to be found on the roads, but I don’t think they would be filling up with water from the Burpham pond. Stopping on that narrow bit of road would create even more traffic gridlock than we have at present.

If you are willing to share your memories and/or photos to tell us more about Burpham then please contact Moira MacQuaide Hall, either by e-mail (moira.macquaide@gmail.com) or by phone or text (07963 756543). My two books (‘The History of Burpham Primary School’ and ‘Burpham – A Gateway to Guildford’) are still available from me for £10 (free delivery locally) or on Amazon.

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