Every community needs a focal point and in the East Yorkshire village of Walkington, a large pond that is carefully looked after by locals lies at its very heart.
Located along a B-road, just under four miles west from the market town of Beverley, the village feature is the backdrop to some of the most memorable community occasions, particularly at Christmas, when a carol service and a visit from Santa Claus are staged alongside it.
To ensure the pond environment continues to look its best, the community has just about completed a costly renovation project. Old, unruly sycamore trees around its edges have been uprooted and, in the spring were replaced with mature weeping willows and other species.
Also incorporating a revamp of the reed beds, the scheme has cost about £20,000 – a total that has been raised through private donations and grant funding.
Co-ordinated entirely by volunteers, the upgrade has required the new 12ft-plus trees to be watered almost around the clock to ensure they become fully established.
“The village pond takes pride of place,” explains Ken Hearne, a member of Walkington Parish Council who relocated to the village from London more than 40 years ago. “We have a waterfall on there that was donated by the Sherwood Trust and it looks so natural that people think the water coming through it is keeping the pond full, rather than recycling the water.”
Located within 30 minutes’ drive of both the east coast and the Humber Estuary, Mr Hearne said the pond often attracts an interesting array of birds, although some have proved to be a problem.
Until a year or so ago, the pond was regularly visited by swans, but when it rained, the birds would mistake the nearby road for the pond and use it as a landing strip.
Tassels were fitted to an overhead power line to ensure the swans avoided unfortunate collisions, but with their number growing to half a dozen or so, the decision was taken to have the birds transferred to the nearby Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s North Cave wetlands nature reserve.
They are not the only animals to have been removed from the local scene. In the past decade, new health and safety rules put paid to an annual Victorian Hay Ride.
A popular heritage event dating back at least 40 years , it saw dray horses – horses adapted for drawing heavy loads – drawing wagons from all over East and West Yorkshire for a parade through the village and beyond to Bishop Burton and Beverley Westwood. Villagers would dress up in Victorian costume for the celebration.
The community event may have bitten the dust, but “villagers have stepped up to the mark” and Walkington remains a “very close” community, Mr Hearne said.