Whitburn residents celebrate seeing historic pond returned to its former glory after being dredged by South Tyneside Council

Whitburn residents are celebrating the return of the village’s much loved pond to its former glory.

By Neil Fatkin
Friday, 29th October 2021, 3:04 pm

In September, a residents’ group contacted South Tyneside Council to save the pond after increased levels of deposited silt has caused drainage points to become partially blocked resulting in the pond resembling more of a swamp of mud and stagnant water than its previous water filled state.

The situation got so bad the group had resorted to fundraising to purchase tools and had begun work themselves trying to clear the pond.

Group spokesman and Rolls-Royce engineer Gary Johnston, 52, said: “The silt was about three feet high and had completely filled in the pond. It was a real eyesore and a lot of the wildlife had left. There was very little water left for the ducks to swim on and the aquatic life was gone.”

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Whitburn Pond looking resplendent in the autumn sunshine.

However, at the start of this month (October) South Tyneside Council responded to residents’ concerns by dredging the pond and clearing it of the build up of silt and algae.

After several days of rainfall, the pond is once again filled with water and wildlife has already started to return.

Gary added: “It’s brilliant to see the pond returned to its former state. On a sunny day you can once again see the reflection of the trees and buildings in the water.

"A lot of ducks have already returned and more families are coming down to visit the pond. The residents all seem really pleased and have thanked us for our efforts in helping to make this happen.

South Tyneside Council Leader, Cllr Tracey Dixon, at Whitburn Village Pond with Gary Johnston before the dredging took place.

"We will continue to work on the pond to help to keep it clear, but it should now just be a case of trying to keep on top of things.”

Rachel Owen Butler, 36, has recently moved into the house which overlooks the pond.

She said: “The outlook from my house is now far better. The pond is in a much better state than when I first moved in and the ducks certainly seem a lot happier. I counted there were 23 on the pond yesterday.

"More families are now coming down to feed them. I would like to thank Gary and the rest of the group for helping to make this happen.”

Residents Gary Johnston, 52, and Belinda Gibbs, 53, standing in Whitburn Pond before the dredging took place. Picture by FRANK REID

The Council’s leader, Tracey Dixon, felt compelled to act after having the situation drawn to her attention by residents.

She said: “Whitburn pond is a beautiful area of the village. It is also of great historical importance, having acted as a water source for villagers hundreds of years ago.

“The work carried out has helped to improve its condition, restoring the pond to the picturesque focal point it once was for the village, while supporting the ducks, frogs and other wildlife to thrive.

“We have some further minor work to do over the coming weeks to help improve the flow of water through the pond and reduce the build-up of silt in the future.

Gary Johnston standing in the recently dredged Whitburn Pond. Picture by FRANK REID

“We thank the volunteers for all their amazing work in helping to make this area an asset once again.”

There are concerns that, in time, the pond will once again see a build up of silt and mud but Gary said the Council had “agreed to dredge it twice each year”.

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Ducks have already started to return to the pond. Picture by FRANK REID
Council diggers removing the built up silt and mud.