April 2008 marks the twentieth anniversary of Peatmoor Lagoon, or at least when Swindon Link magazine ran a long article describing the work by Thamesdown (now Swindon) Council to create the lake over the previous 12 months.
The low lying farm land to the north of Shaw hamlet already had two streams converging on it and these were utilised to feed a major storm water flood storage area identified in the West Swindon development master plan several years before house building started.
Council engineers, planners landscape architects and environmentalists were involved in the design. Landscape architect Paul Jolliffe said at the time that rather than leave a large marshy area prone to flooding every time it rained, it was an opportunity to create a leisure feature.
The lagoon has an estimated capacity of 10 million gallons, rising to 13 million after heavy rainfall. The average depth is about five feet, but after a 1 in 10 year storm this could rise by two and a half feet, and has the capacity to rise by 4 feet to cope with a 1 in 150 year rainfall.
A sluice gate is built into the dam at the eastern end so that the lagoon can be drained for maintenance. However the bed is sculptured with deep rescue hollows so that fish can take refuge.
In the late 1980s some 16,000 trees were planted on lagoon islands and on its banks, the houses at Peatmoor and Sparcells were occupied, the Pagoda Palace restaurant completed and the controversial Arclight building put up next to it.
Top, Peatmoor Lagoon, the lagoon soon after completion before the houses were buillt and before the trees and vegetation had covered the islands.
Right, the beach in 1989. Bottom, the scene in January 2008, with self seeded trees growing out of the beach area
Time for some TLC at the lagoon
The creation of Peatmoor Lagoon started during 1987 European Year of the Environment. The Link ended its feature by saying, ‘this is barely the beginning of a new environment which will be constantly changing and always evolving.’
However the lagoon is looking tired and overgrown. Some of the saplings planted twenty years ago are now huge, a lot of brushwood and brambles now spoil views across the lagoon and self-seeded trees are growing out of the grassy, but originally shingle, beach where children feed the ducks and swans.
Maintenance work is needed to keep the lagoon area attractive but Swindon Council does not have the resources to give it a decent makeover. They are going to cut down some of the largest trees and clear dense areas around the fishing platforms.
But if anything else is to happen, it’s up to volunteers to come forward and take on some of the low level work to open up sight lines and tidy up the beach. Volunteers are well known in the area, they’ve been looking after nearby Peatmoor Copse for nearly 20 years.
Are you up for some volunteer work?
To participate in volunteer working parties around the lagoon, call Roger Ogle at The Link on 01793 608840 or mail: firstname.lastname@example.org