It's dry time for some water

WITH improvements to Ipswich's Christchurch Park nearly complete, there is just one problem today - an empty pond.

WITH improvements to Ipswich's Christchurch Park nearly complete, there is just one problem today - an empty pond.

The park's ranger Sam Pollard estimates it could take a year for the Round Pond to refill with rain water alone which would leave visitors wanting to see the park's attraction high and dry.

But instead of waiting for rainfall, the park managers are set to pump water from the park's other lake, the Wilderness Pond.

A dry season has meant plans have had to be altered as there is little water left in the Round Pond since it was drained last year as part of the park's restoration project.

As the Wilderness Pond is filled via natural springs, the water will easily be replaced.

Mr Pollard said: “We left filling up the pond to Mother Nature but that hasn't seemed to have worked so we are trying something else. I think it would take more than a year if we waited.

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“We could turn a tap on to fill it up or the more environmentally friendly way of doing it is to pump the water from the other pond.

“There are some ducks around but we need to fill the lake to its capacity.”

The process of pumping the water from one pond to the other should be done in the next couple of weeks by the park's contractors.

Despite some concern over the transference of blue-green algae from the wilderness pond to the round pond, Mr Pollard feels there is no other feasible option.

He said: “We considered the blue-green algae issue heavily as it could be a problem. We are pretty sure that it will be transferred naturally anyway so decided to go ahead with our plans but we do have methods in place to control this.”

The rest of the improvements are coming along well, with the railings around the pond already up. The footpath surfacing is also nearly complete and work to build an office space in the new education centre has been finished.

The lottery-funded project, which began in 2006, is expected to finish by March this year, although the grand opening is likely to be in May.

Mr Pollard said: “The work has been going splendidly. We have had a lot of hiccups which has meant the work has been extended but we are nearly there. It's going to be really lovely in the summer.”

In June this year The Evening Star reported that as the round pond was being drained, hundreds of historical objects dating back to the 1600s were found in the mud and silt.

N How do you think the park is looking? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

Christchurch Mansion sits on the site of the Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity, which was founded in the 12th century. The Round pond and Wilderness pond are fed by natural springs and they supplied the monks with carp, tench, roach and gudgeon.

N Christchurch Park round pond was originally dug in the middle ages to keep fish for the priory which stood on the site of the mansion.

N The pond was turned into an ornamental feature during Victorian times.

N Before last year, the pond had last been fully dredged in the 1920s - although it had been partially cleaned in the 1980s.

N Dredging and cleaning the wilderness and round ponds is a key element of the restoration of the park, largely paid for by National Lottery money.