In February 1937 a three years contract was signed between The Lincoln & Hull Water Transport Co. of Hull and Holme farmer, Joseph Hallam, for the extraction of gravel and sand from part of his land in the parish of Holme. This area, where the minerals were extracted, is now known as Winthorpe Lake. Dredging operations commenced with the sand and gravel taken away to be graded. I have heard rumours that some of the lakes contents were used in the building of Winthorpe Airfield. This seems very unlikely as the concrete runways of Winthorpe airfield were laid in 1942, five years later. The lake now appears to be a graveyard for barges. Lying on the south side and sinking into the mud, are two small rusting iron barges with their rivets clearly visible. These barges could have been used in the transportation of the sand and gravel. On the bank of the north side of the lake lies a large concrete barge. This barge, with its wide beam and using a small quantity of steel for strength, was used as a lighter in the docks of Hull during the Second World War. Bombing had destroyed the docks so lighter barges were used as temporary storage for the ship’s cargo. During the Second World War, with steel in short supply, concrete was used as an experiment for the building of these barges. Because of their immense size, being very heavy and broad they required deep water, wide-arched bridges and hopefully no low bridges as they moved their cargo. These were never going to be a commercial success.
After the Second World War this concrete barge was moved up river but was unable to pass under Trent Bridge at Newark. It was brought back and moored in the centre of Winthorpe Lake until a decision could be made about its use. One stormy night in the 1950’s the barge broke its anchorage and was blown onto the east side of the lake where it now rests. A decision was made to hole the barge so that it could not be refloated. It now lies at an awkward angle; its wooden deck rotted away and has trees growing from its hold. The channel, on the south side of the lake where the barge passed through, was blocked up by sinking a redundant iron barge and stone. A new much narrower channel was constructed on the north west side of the lake. In the late 1980's a stone bridge was built over this channel to make access more easily. This channel now allows water to pass through from the River Trent in times of high water levels, thus helping to reduce flooding further downstream. This flood water has over the years brought with it silt which has been deposited mainly at the lake's entrance. On a small hill near the flood embankment, on the south east corner of the lake and hidden by Hawthorns bushes, is a small hexagon concrete building, without a door. This was the toilet used by the dredging contractors. Its stainless steel pan was recently found dumped in the lake.
The lake, which is popular with walkers, has an area of about 15 acres, of depths from about five to twenty feet with its perimeter of reeds, several Birch trees, Bramble bushes, Dog Roses, Elder, and Hawthorne bushes. It has been fished by anglers for many years. Ashfield Angling Club has a long lease for its fishing rights. The anglers have given their fishing pegs strange names, such as The Beach, Cliff’s Corner, Man Swim, Tea Bag Swim, The Lawn, The Point, The Spit and The Steps. Three areas around the lake, where no fishing is allowed, have been left for the benefit of fish and waterfowl. Among the many fish caught are Bream, Carp, Perch, Pike, Roach and Zander.
The lake is a heaven for birds and waterfowl. These include Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Cuckoos, Great Tits, House Martins, Kingfishers, Sparrows, Starlings, Swallows, Thrushes and Wood Pigeons. Canada Geese, Coots, Grebes, Gulls, Herons, Mallards, Swans and Tufted Ducks. Many other varieties of birds use the lake just for summer or winter or call on their migratory journeys.
Large areas, around the lake, have been left for grasses and wild flowers to flourish. Bumble Bees are busy collecting nectar from the Cotton and Creeping Thistles, whilst Stinging Nettles are providing a source of food for caterpillars of the Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies. When walking through the path close to the bridge, which is lined with Stinging Nettles, clusters of Damselflies leap into the air before settling down again with their wings closed in an upright position. Nearby are the wild plants: Common Centaury, Cow Parsley, Evening Primrose, Mugwort, Nipplewort, Purple Loosestrife, Teasel, Thistle and Yarrow. On the wing, amongst the short grasses, are the dark brown Meadow Brown and the Orange Gatekeeper butterflies, each having a false eye on each of its two main wings. These false eyes are to deter predators. It is memorising watching these butterflies as they are never still, always keeping ahead of me, whilst I am walking. In the tall grasses are small black day flying moths about 1 inch across. I am sure these are Chimney Sweepers.
Isn’t nature wonderful?
This year Ashfield Angling Club have planted 420 woodland saplings, about 16 inches high, all donated by The Woodland Trust. These include Blackthorn, Crab Apple, Downy Birch, Hawthorn, Hazel, and Rowan. The back end of this year (2014) a further 420 wetland saplings will be planted. These will include Downey Birch, Goat Willow, Hawthorn, Hazel, Osier, (another type of Willow) and Rowan.
It is now six years since Ashfield Angling Club became custodians of Winthorpe Lake. During that period the members have transformed the area from a wasteland into a pleasant fishing spot. This work will bring great benefits to the wildlife.
Pat Finn. July 2014.
I would like to express my thanks to Wildlife Artist Michael Warren, for allowing me to publish the birds and waterfowl species that he has recorded over many years at Winthorpe Lake.
The full list is:
Blackcap, Blackbird, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Buzzard, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaf, Crow, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Kestrel, Kingfisher, Kittiwake, Lapwing, Lesser, Linnet, Magpie, House Martin, Sand Martin, Pheasant, Meadow Pipit, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Redwing, Robin, Rook, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Skylark, Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Lesser Starling, Swallow, Swift, Black Tern, Common Tern, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Garden Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Whimbrel, Whitethroat, Woodcock, Wood Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren and Yellowhammer.
Coot, Tufted Duck, Little Egret, Gadwal, Goldeneye, Goosander, Canada Goose, Grey Lag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Heron, Mallard, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Pochard, Scaup, Shelduck, Shoveler, Mute Swan, Teal and Wigeon.
Winthorpe Lake looking from the east side - 2014.
An avenue of Hawthorne bushes on the footpath
on the east side of Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
The Concrete Barge at Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
Another view of the Concrete Barge at Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
Saplings in front of the two small rusting iron barges at
Winthorpe Lake with the Concrete Barge in the background - 2014.
One of the two small rusting iron barges at Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
Swans building their nest at Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
The same swans now have a family at Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
Footpath on the north side of Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
The redundant Concrete Toilet at Winthorpe Lake - 2014.
Frost covered Teasel at Winthorpe Lake - 2010.
A snow covered Winthorpe Lake showing the two iron barges
and the Concrete Barge in the background - 2010.
A bleak Winthorpe Lake with snow on top of a layer of ice.
Notice the fox footprints - 2010.
The floods at Winthorpe Lake. The cattle grid,
which is in the centre, is under the single bar gate - 2012.