Mill Pond and Ravensbourne restoration

Weir, Mill Pond
View of Mill Pond from Glassmill Lane

The River Ravensbourne and its associated Mill Pond are greatly valued. Since it was first recorded, in the Domesday Book, it has taken several different forms, ending up as a mill for polishing glass mirrors hence the road being named Glassmill Lane . However over many years the Mill Pond has become heavily silted up, with Bromley council having stopped removing in the early 1980’s. Additionally occasional pollution incidents have occurred, some of them serious. The Environment Agency and Thames Water have taken the appropriate actions in response to such incidents, but underlying causes including domestic waste water misconnections remain. In March 2022 have started to investigate potential sources of pollution at some 44 separate infalls upstream from the pond

Despite many frustrating years of limited good news, we continued to work with various organisations, seeking to renovate the mill pond and so to enhance its potential biodiversity & heritage assets. We have been doing this in partnership with the following organizations:-

Earlier in 2015 Thames21 outlined draft proposals at a public meeting, and this resulted in an engineering proposal (see below). In brief this envisions a rejuvenated river channel on the western side, allowing fish, etc to migrate upstream. A large pond area would be created on the eastern side. The reconfigured island would be raised by reusing the silt excavated on site.

Sadly subsequently nothing much happened, until in January 2020, when we attended a meeting of a rejuvenated Ravensbourne Catchment Improvement Group, . Here we gave a presentation highlighting the issues and urging a progress on this project. This was received very favourably by attendees representing many of the above listed organisations.

A copy of this powerpoint presentation can be viewed HERE. See our Home page for the very latest news.

In early 2021 limited funding from the Environment Agency enabled further planning and necessary statutory permissions to be undertaken, prior to seeking full funding for the implementation of this project. This included the taking a number of silt samples and their subsequent testing. Unfortunately this confirmed some contaminated silt was present, which seriously impacts the viability of the project. As of March 2022 more silt samples are to be tested, especially for metallic contaminants. If results of these tests are favourable then approval will be requested from EA to proceed.

In the meantime regular work parties have commenced in order to maintain the site to a reasonable standard, until the main project to rejuvenate the Mill Pond is able to commence. We are seeking support among the council, local residents and groups. If you are interested please contact us for further information.

In the longer term we would like to restore the course of the River Ravensbourne through adjacent Queens Mead to a more natural state. When completed this would both slow down the river at high flow as well improve the biodiversity of the park. Over the last few decades there have been several draft proposals for this, from the Environment Agency in 2008, and an earlier one by its predecessor the National Rivers Authority, but so far none have got beyond the initial planning stage.

Old view of River Ravensbourne.
Former natural river through Queens Mead
River Ravensbourne now in concrete channel in Queens Mead.
Current river in concrete channel

We are very conscious of the concerns of local householders about the potential for flooding of their properties. Any scheme would be designed to eliminate the risk of flooding of any houses. In both 1995 (NRA) and 2005 (EA/Ove Arup) plans for this area were not funded. The NRA scheme shown below gives an indication fo what could be achieved.

Failed National Rivers Authority (predecessors to Environment Agency) plan in 1994

Besides the naturalisation of the river the wider objectives could be to –

  • Conserve and improve the ecology of slopes of Martins Hill.
  • Improve access for local people and groups for educational uses.
  • Employ this undulating area for better healthy lifestyle activities.
  • Enhance the sports provision on Queens Mead.
  • Improve links with other green spaces in the area

A good example of the improvements we are seeking can be found on Chinbrook Meadows, adjacent to Grove Park Station. Here the Quaggy Waterways Action Group (QWAG) and other organisations have transformed a stretch of the River Quaggy that was previously in a concrete channel like ours (see below). Go along and see what we could achieve.

Quaggy at Chinbrook Meadows.
Quaggy at Chinbrook Meadows