From mud and muck to fine fishery
A village pond has gone from being a muddy disappointment to a fishy paradise.
Mackie's Pit at Swineshead was in danger of completely disappearing as it silted up allowing impenetrable beds of rushes and reeds to encroach.
The weed creep was arrested last year when 5,000 tonnes of mud were pumped out.
And now 1,000 healthy young fish have been introduced by the Environment Agency (EA). Anglers will be able to catch crucian carp, tench, roach and perch. Some eels remain as part of the original population.
On Thursday (January 25) Jake Reeds, from the EA, introduced the latest batch of fish to their new home - bream, roach and perch and an addition to 500 crucian carp and tench which were put in last November. The project to save the pit was launched by Swineshead Enhancement Society and the parish council, and all the improvement work has been done at no cost to either.
A revolutionary machine not seen in this country before was used to pump mud from the pit, which was last dredged by steam engine. In places just a few inches of water remained, but Mud Pump Dredging restored the depth to as much as six or seven feet in the deepest areas. The job was finished off by Black Sluice IDB which did some traditional dredging work.
The company was looking for a demonstration site to show the capabilities of the Mud Pump and Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board engineers invited them to Swineshead to put it through its paces.
The Mud Pump was used in conjunction with a Silt Pusher - a sort of underwater bulldozer.
Cllr Michael Brookes, a borough and county councillor for the area and also a member of both the enhancement society and the parish council and a Black Sluice IDB board member, said: "We want to thank Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board, which organised the dredging work last year, Mud Pump Dredging and the Environment Agency for the gift of the fish. Also Swineshead Poor Charity for funding at short notice reed cutting and the cost of the Silt Pusher.
Cllr Brookes also thanked farmers, W Laird and Sons, for giving permission for access by the Mud Pump to the pond across their land and for permitting the discharged mud to be deposited there. It has been ploughed in.
"The pit really is returning to its former glory. If action hadn't been taken it would have disappeared and just become scrub land.
"Now it will return to being a village amenity, where parents can take their children to learn to fish, or just enjoy the wildlife which has been attracted."
He also thanked Bicker Wind Farm Trust for its donations of £4,950 to pay for fishing platforms for anglers, including one which affords access by anglers with a disability, and rock armour used to strengthen the banks, The Green Dragon Public House in the village for their donation and The Swineshead Poor Charities for funding the traditional dredging work done by Black Sluice Internal Drainage Board.
Anyone with an Environment Agency rod licence can fish the pit, see https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences
The pond is common land, so anyone can use it, but Swineshead Parish Council has care of the area.
Pictured at the release of the first batch of fish last November. From left: Roger Welberry, parish council and enhancement society, Carl Gibbard, enhancement society, Cllr Michael Brookes, fundraiser Sean Trafford, Jayne Newark, enhancement society, and Alan Hughes, parish council.