The Beck

Photograph of nesting coots after treatment

Nesting Coots after treatment

Welbourn Village pond has been a feature of the village for at least the past seven hundred years and, being spring fed, was the likely water source for the Castle that was built on the adjacent site around 1200 AD.

The pond (known as the Beck), according to village history, once contained fish. The pond was cleaned out by Italian Prisoners of War about 1944 and four times in the past 40 years, in 1974 by hand, and in 1985,1993 and 2011 mechanically.

Photograph of the pond at welbourn showing algae

Pond showing algae


Since 1993 filamentous algae gradually took over the pond completely, suppressing other plant species and turning the surface into a solid green, evil smelling eyesore each summer and the impression was of a deteriorating situation.

Causes for this deterioration might have included:

  • Climatic Change (higher temperatures = greater Algal growth)
  • Agricultural changes (intensified cropping = more nitrogen applications and consequent runoff)
  • Water pollution (runoff from highway)
  • Fauna and flora changes brought about by a combination of the above factors and increasing building density and traffic volumes.

In 1999 the Parish Council decided to rehabilitate the pond and restock fish. Comprehensive advice and assistance was sought from the Environment Agency; further water samples were taken and a rehabilitation project proposal was prepared.

As Welbourn village lies 1.5 miles North West of the Leadenham Waste Recycling site a grant was successfully applied for from Waste Recycling Environmental Limited (WREN) and work on the reclamation project commenced in March 2001.

Photograph of barley straw treatment on welbourn pond

Barley straw treatment

Barley straw treatment of the Filamentous Algae (Blanket Weed) was started by the Parish Council in February 2000, following detailed recommendations issued by the Centre for Aquatic Plant Management, Sonning, Reading, Berks.

Results were encouraging, with little new algal growth apparent and existing infestations dying off slowly.

The Project work programme was carried out by a working group formed for the purpose by Welbourn village residents.

The intention was to undertake the rehabilitation in phases over three years 2000-2003.  Spreading the development over three years should have enabled the balanced development of the food chain to occur before fish stocks were introduced:

  1. To reduce and eradicate the Filamentous Algae (Blanket Weed) by manual methods disturbing the pond bottom as little as possible (from a boat).  To sympathetically remove surplus bankside vegetation and prune certain overhanging tree branches in order to allow a balance of light and shade to the water surface. The existing water outlet was modified to raise the water level and to create a self cleaning sluice, draining excess water from the pond to the Castle Hill moat drain.
  2. To introduce suitable plant species to the banks and into the pond water to encourage the introduction of invertebrates, to provide shelter and food for fish and to produce seed for wildlife, together with suitable oxygenating plants to improve the water quality for the fish stocking.
  3. To establish a reed bed filter system at the eastern edge of the pond where the springs supply the Beck.