Hollow Pond: a brief history

Ponder its genesis as you amble across E11's bucolic open space

We all know that when the rowing boats are on the water, it’s summer; when tethered offshore, the season has changed.

But nonetheless, a walk around the sprawling waterways that comprise Hollow Pond (note: official name is singular not plural) is good for the soul, whatever the time of year.

As you wander its shingly shores, between the ancient oaks, and past the spiky gorse, it’s worth remembering that, without the hard labour of a bunch of unemployed Leytonstone blokes well over a hundred years ago, Hollow Pond may not even exist at all. So neither would that solitary heron on its watery nest.

Proper beaches, no less. Photos; SE

The tranquil spot, whose name barely conveys the series of islands covering an expansive 13 acres, only took shape back in the late 19th century after gravel was dug out of the forest to use for the intense road-building that was going on in the area.


But when the work stopped in 1878 what was left were water–filled pits on marshy land – which by 1905 had expanded to become a lake not dissimilar to the one you see now.

The Whipps Cross Bathing Pool, situated by the roundabout, opened the same year but soon got a very bad rep for being unhygienic – euuurgh – so the council chucked in some cash, and by 1932 had developed the site into a state-of-the-art lido with twenty foot-high diving board.

The Lake District…or E11? Photos: SE

When it finally closed in 1983, the land reverted back – in pleasing full-circle – to being the leafy southernmost tip of Epping Forest we know now.

Something to ponder on your next stroll, as the woodpeckers peck in the distance, or the Canada geese flap overhead.

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