Martham's twin ponds
They still pull in the visitors even though what we have now could be called an “only pond”.
Facing our largest ever schoolroom meeting, sprinkled with several local historians of long standing and some reputation, Peter Dawson confessed to feeling a little nervous. There was no need.
Even though it was his first effort at this particular talk Peter kept his audience fully engaged as he quietly took them through 130 years’ worth of photographs, maps, Parish Council minutes, newspaper cuttings and anecdotes.
Did you know that the twin of our present principal pond was exactly where many of you now sing carols at Christmas? It was called Cranes Green Pond. This is it in 1890.
In its heyday Cranes Green was the larger of the two and came dangerously close to the surrounding cottages, as did the other to the “road” near The King’s Arms Inn (as it was once known). Parish Council meetings in the early 1900s anguished over the problem. Should we strengthen the sides? How should we do it? Costing how much, and to be done by whom? Staggering sums were discussed, even exceeding £30(!). There was only public subscription to raise the funds, but eventually it was done.
It was still there in the early 1930s when at least one sailor-suited small boy is known to have fallen in and run home to his mother caked in mud. Sadly, shortly before the Co-op was built in 1936, Cranes Green pond disappeared, possibly drying-up as better roads and sewers reduced the run-off that had fed the pond. Parish Council minutes are strangely silent on the matter. The pond still makes occasional efforts to reappear but not enough to interfere with the singing.
And quietly the “other pond” has gone from strength to strength. Its banks were also strengthened with concrete which survives to this day, whilst the recently repainted railings were installed by a local council in the fifties after two wartime fatal accidents. It seems that a combination of the “blackout”, visits to the pub and an apparent shortage of electric torches led two unfortunate men to lose their ways, fall into the pond and, sadly, never emerge alive.
But now we have railings, a proper road with kerbs and excellent lighting, so we, the ducks and the seagulls are safe to enjoy nature’s tamed beauty. And of course its not an “only pond”. Martham still has several, including the cousin pond on the other end of The Green – generally known as “The Chip Shop Pond!” I find myself forced to ask: is this the most elegant name we can manage? Does the main pond have a name? And what about the others? It’s a pity if the only one we have chosen to name is one that has gone.