Heath Ponds History 1 - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

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Heath Ponds History 1

An act of the 35th year of Henry V111 authorized Hampstead Ponds (1589 - 90).

The Vale Of Health Pond dates from 1777.

There were formally ponds at Red Lion Hill, Frognal, The Grove, Branch Hill and South End Green but these were used for domestic storage purposes.

(see City of London's map to locate ALL the Heath Ponds)

Although there have always been many springs, there were no large ponds on The Heath until the end of the 17th century.

Nothing was done under the Act of 1543 for London's water until the lord mayoralty of Sir John Hart, 1589-90, whom Gerard accompanied to view the springs and who 'attempted' some unspecified works.

In 1692, the City Corporation leased the springs on Hampstead Heath to a William Paterson and partners, who formed the Hampstead Water Company.

The company gradually made the string of reservoirs known as the Hampstead Ponds; a survey of the manor in 1703-4 shows two ponds and two more were made later.

The lowest pond lay at the foot of Keats Grove until 1892, when it was filled in.

Another series of six reservoirs, the Highgate Ponds.

These were made by damming the eastern stream on the other side of Parliament Hill.

The Ponds were made by damming Hampstead brook, one of the sources of the Fleet, just as Highgate ponds were made from a more easterly source in St. Pancras.

There were two ponds on Lower Heath by 1703 and in 1745, three by 1786, and four by 1810.

The New River Co.'s rights in the smallest and southernmost one, whose drainage was sought by the residents of South Hill Park, were acquired in 1892 by the L.C.C., which filled it in, to provide a grassy approach to the heath from the nearby railway station.

At the Vale Of Health, was a malarial swamp with frogs and mosquitoes in early 18th century.

The only inhabitant was a Samuel Hatch, harness-maker with a cottage and workshop…hence the area was known as Hatches or Hatchett's Bottom.

The swamp drained in 1777 by Hampstead Water Company and thence Vale Of Health Pond.

Leg of Mutton pond on West Heath was probably dammed as part of a plan, reported in 1816, to employ the poor.

The nearby Sandy Road was sometimes known as Hankins's folly, after further relief work was carried out under Thomas Hankins, surveyor of the highways 1823- 4.

The pond was marked simply as a reservoir in 1891, although already known by its modern name.

The  Viaduct pond, crossed by a viaduct begun in 1844 and finished in 1847, was on Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson's freehold and created as part of his abortive preparations to build there.

Whitestone pond was originally a small dew pond, called the horse pond and later after a milestone; in 1875 it was enlarged and lined by the vestry and by 1890 artificially supplied with water.

The major ponds were mainly manmade and, unless dug into impervious clay, they had to be lined or "puddled".

Clay is laid and trodden in, often by livestock driven onto the area.

The ponds of Sandy Heath, once known as the Iron Pan Ponds, are the result of digging up sand.

They are not fed or drained, but retain their waters due to an impervious layer of sandstone, assisted by the iron oxide found in this Bagshot Sand.

The Seven Sisters Ponds were dug by unemployed labourers, between 1908 and 1909.

Similarly, The Leg Of Mutton Pond was created by the poor in the years following the Napoleonic Wars.

The waters of The Heath vary.

Some are pure, soft and lime-free; others contain iron carbonates, oxides and sulphates.

These are known as "chalybeate" and were thought of as medicinal.

Such waters feed Kenwood's Wood Pond and The Goodison Fountain.

Some small ponds on the edge of the heath near the town disappeared after the building of the covered reservoir near Whitestone pond in 1856. Branch Hill pond was filled in c. 1889.

CURRENTLY, many of Hampstead Heath's PONDS are undergoing the project for raising some of the banks in order to conform with the Government's National anti-flood legislation.

You can read more about this on The City Of London's Website

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