Search

Hampstead Heath guardians to highlight past battles in first walk of 2018

PUBLISHED: 11:12 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:12 31 January 2018

The ponds.           Picture: Patrick McLennan

The ponds. Picture: Patrick McLennan

Archant

The fascinating history of the Heath is to be revealed with the Heath and Hampstead Society’s unsuccessful legal challenge forming part of the organisation’s first guided walk of 2018. Society member Thomas Radice offers a preview of what walkers can expect to find out.

Two streams run south on either side of the Heath from the ridge that connects Hampstead to Highgate.

Originally, they met in Kentish Town to form the Fleet River, piped underground in the 19th century.

In earlier times there is evidence the Fleet was navigable up the confluence of the streams, but it would have been pretty unpleasant. Ben Jonson (1572–1637) described how every stroke of the oar ‘belched forth an ayre as hot as the muster of all your night tubs’. In other words, the river had become an open sewer.

Upstream, however, the streams and associated springs fed watercress beds right up to late Victorian times, and to this day it is safe to drink from the Goodison Fountain, off the upper part of Millfield Lane.

A century before Jonson drinkable water for the growing population was running low. In 1544, under Henry VIII, the City Corporation (responsible for London’s water supplies since the 13th century) was authorised to tap the Fleet’s headwaters by laying pipes, digging pits and constructing conduits.

In 1692 the Corporation leased the Hampstead springs to the Hampstead Water Company, who over two centuries created chains of reservoirs, first on the Hampstead side and then on the Highgate side. The present ponds on the Heath are the legacy of these activities.

The three largest ponds (the model boating and men’s bathing ponds on the Highgate side and the Hampstead No 1 pond), although no longer used as reservoirs, still rank as statutory reservoirs (having a capacity of over 25,000 cubic metres each).

The City of London’s recently completed ponds project was undertaken on professional advice to comply with its duties as a reservoir owner under the 1975 Reservoirs Act.

On Sunday, February 4, Marc Hutchinson will tell the story of the Heath & Hampstead Society’s unsuccessful legal challenge to the ponds project and invite participants in the organisation’s first guided walk in 2018 to form their opinions of the visual impact on the Heath, now that the engineering works have nearly finished grassing over 
and are blending into the landscape.

Heath & Hampstead Society chairman, Marc Hutchinson, will lead the walk and trace the history of the ponds. The walk leaves Burgh House at 10.30am.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

18:04

If you’ve been enjoying Hampstead Heath this summer, you may have come across an unusual slab of concrete amongst the greenery.

15:05

A couple were violently assaulted, with one of them suffering a bleed on the brain, after challenging a man urinating in Fairfax Road in June,

14:17

Aaron Breslauer, 14, has combined his love of mountain climbing with raising £2,000.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Six year old Camden schoolgirl Lily Conlan has been shortlisted for a prestigious campaigning award for her work to promote deaf awareness.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Users of St John’s Wood Post Office have raised concerns about the proposed branch move to Charlbert Street.

Friday, August 17, 2018

It’s unlikely anyone testing the water at Hampstead Heath’s many ponds expected their checks for bugs like E.coli would ever become part of a performance art project.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Paddington Academy students are celebrating achieving the best A-level results in the school’s 11-year history.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hornsey Sixth Form College A-level results were ‘significantly above national average’, according to the headteacher of the Crouch End school.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now