A rallying cry has gone out for more people to give a few hours to help clear an old millpond in the heart of Slaithwaite this weekend.

The millpond is next to the Aldi supermarket but hidden from view and over the years all kinds of junk has been thrown in there and it’s become derelict and badly overgrown.

A dedicated group of volunteers called the Friends of Slaithwaite Millpond have been working for more than a year to clear it and have plans to fully restore the millpond and reconnect it to the nearby River Colne to keep the area’s heritage alive.

The project is estimated to cost around £120,000 but could be much more with the group waiting for lab results from silt samples which may show if there is anything in there which could be problematic to remove.

People are urged to join a working party at the pond this Saturday, November 11, starting at 10.30am and they need as many people as possible to help to clear all the undergrowth, bushes and weeds that have sprung up over the summer.

Friends of Slaithwaite Millpond spokesman Keith Anderson said: “Self-seeded foliage this year has gone very wild so what is needed is basically seasonal gardening on a very large scale.

“We don’t want to kill the self-seeded trees because they could be all that is holding the banks in place but we need to clear a massive amount of foliage.”

Volunteers need sturdy footwear and gloves and take along their own secateurs, shovels, spades and any power tools such as strimmers. If anyone has waders they would be good too as there is stuff to shift from inside the pond too.

The rubbish removed will be piled up at the back of Slawit Chippy and volunteers are needed to take it to the tip.

Anyone wanting to help on Saturday should email christine.woods@slaithwaitemillpond.org with their contact details. Alternatively, just turn up on the day at 10.30am.

The group continues to seek advice from environmental experts on how best to restore the millpond while protecting the wildlife, flora and fauna.

The millpond used to be connected to the River Colne to provide hydropower to mills and also helped to prevent flooding.

That ended many decades ago, leaving the millpond, which is split into two, badly neglected. The area around it has several landowners so restoring it is a complex task.

The Friends of Slaithwaite Millpond is supported by the Calder and Colne Rivers Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting local watercourses, habitats and biodiversity. As the scheme progresses it will need ecological, fish and water quality surveys.

The main work that needs doing on Slaithwaite millpond includes:

·         Applying for funding

·         Removing rubbish from the lower millpond

·         Digging out silt and clearing foliage from the upper millpond

·         Repairing the sluice gate between the two millponds

·         Getting water back into the upper millpond

·         Connecting the millpond to a weir now clogged with silt and eventually reconnecting it to the River Colne

·         Clearing the silt from the lower millpond and repairing the sluice gates

·         Setting up floating foliage bed islands to encourage birds to nest, planters to replace pondside flora and creating safe havens for fish breeding

For more information on the group go to its website https://slaithwaitemillpond.org/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SlaithwaiteMillpond

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.