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The Projects - Coy Pond Gardens 2002-2004

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Bird's eye view of Coy Pond Gardens (click to enlarge)Coy Pond Gardens

Coy Pond Gardens are designated public open space and managed by the Borough of Poole.  They form the uppermost extent of the English Heritage Grade II* listed gardens, the majority of which are in Bournemouth. 

Weeping willow and some alder trees dominate the banks of the stream forming an almost continuous canopied corridor from Coy Pond GardensBranksome Wood Road to the railway embankment. 

On 3rd December 1935 the gardens were leased for 999 years from Robert Ives of Erpingham, Norfolk and Frederic Ray Eaton of Norwich.  Prior to this not much is written about the gardens.  In 1940 they were turned over, in part, to allotments, contributing to the war effort.  Permission was granted to return the remaining 18 plots to Pleasure Gardens in 1951.  Since then they have provided local people and visitors with a valuable sanctuary, laid mainly to grass and planted with weeping willow and alder.

Coy pond and gardens together cover a total area of 9 acres (3.65 hectares).  The stream here is largely unmodified, with vegetated banks and small meanders and riffles in its course. 

Bourne Pools 2002-2004

The most 'unattractive' area of Coy Pond Gardens was a stretch leading to the railway embankment in the upper reaches of the garden, where the stream was enclosed with deep & steep concrete block edges. 

This is also where very poor quality stream water emerges from a 2.5km culvert [more].  There was little sign of life on the stream bed, and no opportunity for it elsewhere.  Drainage of the surrounding grassland was very poor and the area had become barely visited.

With a view to making improvements to the stream and its surroundings at Coy Pond Gardens, the Partnership hosted a public consultation on Thursday 23rd, and Friday 24th May 2002 at St. John's Church, Surrey Road, Poole.  

Four options were presented [more], all intended to deal with the problem of diffuse water pollution and enhance wildlife habitat, limited by various services that run through the garden (i.e. electrical cabling, sewer and mains water pipes).  All options adhered to the principles of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SUDS).  

The final design included elements of Options 1 & 2 - the top choices of the public attending the consultation. 

The area has since been named Bourne Pools by local residents.

The Works - drainage, water quality, habitat & access improvements

Working at the uppermost end of the Gardens we have 'naturalised' the stream by removing the steep concrete channelling and widening the stream bed.  

The stream's banks have been lowered, the surrounding grassland terraced, and shallow ponds created at each end of this section of stream.  

The new stream course should develop as a water meadow, and act as a flood basin during times of heavy rainfall when flow increases dramatically.  The soft muddy banks will provide good habitat for wildlife.

The old footbridge was demolished and rebuilt, faced in Purbeck stone and designed with a new weir (or control structure) with a splash pool on the downstream side.  

A resurfaced, higher footpath follows the same course as the previous one. 

A new, wooden footbridge at the far end, at the base of the railway embankment adds a new element to public access and enjoyment of this area.

The banks and surrounding areas were planted with suitable wetland species in April 2004, following consultation with the Friends of Coy Pond.

The scheme was designed by Borough of Poole Leisure Services, and carried out by contractors J Corcoran Ltd.  Pollution prevention methods were agreed with the Environment Agency.

BEFORE works

AFTER works (January 2004)

Coy Pond Gardens May 2003

Bourne Pools January 2004

Below: looking greener and more accessible (May 2005)

Bourne Pools May 05

Below: looking even more verdant in June 2006

And this (below) is what can happen during very heavy rainfall!  

Bourne Pools Oct 04

[more flood pictures]

Since works were completed

April 2004 - Poole's Mayor, Cllr. Ray Smith, visited the site and accepted a cheque from the Friends group toward the cost of the planting.

Friends of Coy Pond (click to enlarge)August 2004 - the Friends of Coy Pond took a rotavator to the compacted and stony soil of the upper terrace, prepared the area and sowed ryegrass; this will eventually produce a wide grassy pathway for visitors to more easily access the far end of the system.

Water Vole (click to enlarge)March 2005 - Water Voles confirmed to have made a home of Bourne Pools and further downstream in the gardens.  Unfortunately it was the discovery of a corpse that led to the positive identification by Dorset Wildlife Trust, but other activity has been spotted since, in the stream and on the banks.

click to enlarge pictureJune 2006 - we found this fat & fluffy buzzard happily watching the goings on at Bourne Pools from a garden fence (click on image to enlarge it).

We believe that buzzards are nesting at Coy Pond Gardens and this may be a fledgling who has made perhaps its first flight and is seen here at lunchtime waiting for the parent's return from hunting. 

August 2006 - Wessex Water & the Environment Agency join Sarah at Bourne Pools to celebrate a cleaner stream [more]

Photo L-R: Larry Spiers, Wessex Water; Claire McClumpha, Environment Agency; Sarah Austin, Bourne Stream Partnership

  • A baseline ecological survey was carried out by Robert Aquilina in August 2003. 

  • In August 2005 we asked Robert back to carry out a follow-up ecological survey which illustrates the benefits of the project in terms of wildlife habitat quality.  Surveys open as small pdf files.

  • Regular monitoring of water quality up- and downstream of the works continues.


At a total cost of a little in excess of 50,000, the majority of the funding for this project was awarded by SITA Environmental Trust through the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme.  The Partnership met the balance.

Project timeline

May 02

Public consultation

Jun 02-Apr 03

Funding amounts and arrangements agreed with SITA Environmental Trust

Apr 03

Design and technical drawings

May 03

Design presented to residents and other visitors to an event organised by Friends of Coy Pond

Jun 03

Final consultation with the Environment Agency

Jun 03

Final consultation with Friends of Coy Pond group

Sep 03

Environment Agency consents received

Sep 03

Tendering process begins

Oct 03

Tender awarded

Nov 03

Works begin, completed 2nd week of December 2003

Dec 03

Site visits by the Environment Agency and a representative of SITA Environmental Trust (funding partner) - works approved

Apr 04

The Mayor of Poole, Cllr. Ray Smith, visits for the official opening

Aug 04

The Friends of Coy Pond officially name the works 'Bourne Pools'

Dec 04

The first Water Vole spotted at Bourne Pools, further sightings confirmed March 2005


SUDS - 4 Options • Ecological Surveys • Flooding Issues • Pollution Issues • Water Quality

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