Lavender Pond & Open Garden Squares Weekend

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve was created round one of the holding docks for timber in the former Surrey Commercial Docks and every year the small Reserve develops under the care of its single manager, with the help of volunteers.  The Pumphouse is a striking feature in the Reserve, standing over the short channel which leads to the river Thames on one side, and a lock (now in some disrepair) which leads into Lavender Pond on the other.

Woollon House

Docklands north of the Thames, Open Garden Squares Weekend

Tower Hamlets and Docklands may sound unlikely areas for beautiful gardens, but take a chance and journey east to explore the sites in the Docklands Area which are open during Open Garden Squares Weekend, 17 & 18 June! You won’t be disappointed – just check the Guidebook or the website to be sure which gardens are open on your chosen day.

Docklands south of the Thames in Open Garden Squares Weekend

The Docklands south of the Thames aren’t derelict! This historically important part of the Thames is home to some very imaginative conservation and regeneration projects – do venture south and east of the river and visit during Open Garden Squares Weekend.  There are some fascinating sites south of the Thames, in the former Surrey Commercial Docks and near Tower Bridge and they will be open during this weekend, 17 & 18 June! Check the Guidebook (if you already have a ticket) or the website to be sure which gardens are open on your chosen day.

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve

I visited Lavender Pond last year and posted on the historical origins of this interesting small nature reserve fashioned out of the remains of part of the Surrey Commercial Docks. The Pond was originally much bigger and used for floating logs to keep them from splitting. ‘In 1928 the entrance to the pond was blocked when the Port of London Authority built the Pumphouse on the site to control the water levels in Surrey Docks. In 1970 the Docks were closed. The area became neglected and the pond was filled in, but in 1981 the pond was re-created as part of a nature reserve.‘ As you can see from the map below the ‘pond’ was an enormous area. Do visit this excellent blog for detailed history of the docks.

Surrey Commercial Docks, 1908 (www.mapco.net)
Surrey Commercial Docks, 1908 (www.mapco.net)
Timber handling in the Surrey Commercial Docks (http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-commercial-dock-company-history-of.html)
Timber handling in the Surrey Commercial Docks (http://russiadock.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/the-commercial-dock-company-history-of.html)

The Pumphouse stands at the head of the Pond and the remains of the lock gate are still in place, and still functioning. The channel into the Thames is clear and from the mouth, at river, Canary Wharf is just a stone’s throw away. Traffic up and down the river is slightly different  these days and it is startling to realise how quickly the changes have come.

The entrance to Lavender Pond
The entrance to Lavender Pond
The Pumphouse at Lavender Pond
The Pumphouse at Lavender Pond

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The large pond in front of the Pumphouse is enjoyed by the birds, and the local residents throughout the year – you can sit on the benches and enjoy the flowers and wildlife in complete peace and quiet.

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Benches at Lavender Pond

Flowers at Lavender Pond

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And then there is the ‘secret pond’ behind the rushes, with an area of woodland which will develop into a magical place as the years pass.

Lavender Pond

Further information
An interesting paper on the history of the Surrey Commercial Docks
The Docklands History Group
A walk around the Surrey Docks

Lavender Pond Nature Reserve, SE16 5DZ

‘…Lavender Pond Nature Park was created in 1981 by LB Southwark in conjunction with the Trust for Urban Ecology and Landuse Consultants Ltd. It was once in the northern part of the Surrey Commercial Docks established in 1864 [and] finally closed in 1969. Nearby are remnants of the earlier industrial use, the Lavender Lock built in 1863 to serve a timber pond that belonged to the Surrey Docks, and the Pump House, built by Port of London Authority in 1928/9 over the channel through to the Thames…’. (London Gardens Online