Paddling Pond

Stokes May Morass

Stoke Morass 1716
Stokes Bay showing the Stoke Morass in 1716

Most of Stokes Bay was for many years inundated by the sea. It was part of the great ‘Stoke Morass’ that ran from Browndown to Gilkicker Point, before those features were named. Over hundreds of years it gradually dried, leaving the river Alver to flow the length of the Bay exiting to the sea at Gilkicker. The river also changed its course, particularly when the Royal Engineers diverted it into Stoke Lake following complaints from the Vicar of Alverstoke about its state.

Stokes Bay 1810
Map of 1810 showing the route of the River Alver

The Paddling Pond (Pool)
As a result a pool of water was left at the Bay close to Stokes bay pier and this became a popular paddling pool for Gosport residents and children in particular.

Stokes Bay Pool in 1873
Stokes Bay Pond in 1873
Stokes Bay paddling pond in 1939

In the 1930s Gosport Borough Council built a concrete path to the pool. The path ran from the Anglesey Road corner with Stokes Bay Road, to the pond and on to the promenade. A path ran all the way round the pond and the pond itself had an island to one side. The pond was filled in 1961 because of problems with water purity and warnings from the Medical Officer of Health who had drawn attention to the unsatisfactory reports made on the bacteriological state of samples of water taken from the pond. The council had tried to clean the pond but decided that it was too costly and the lack of use by the public led to them deciding to build a new paddling pool near to the Sailing Club. Sections of the path to the old pond now remain, enigmatic in their nature and mysteriously leading nowhere. The area is, unsurprisingly, prone to flooding.

Path to the Pool
Path to the Pond in 2016 looking from the Promenade
Path to the Pool
Path to the Pond in 2016 looking towards Anglesey Road
Path to the Pool
Path to the Pond in 2016 looking towards the beach.
Path to the Pool in 1999
This Google Earth view of the path to the pond in 1999 shows that much of the path still survives beneath the grass.


Stokes Bay Paddling Pond
Old postcard of Stokes Bay Paddling Pond (Credits to original photographer, unknown)
Stokes Bay pool 1927
A postcard of the pond in 1927 (copyright photographer unknown)

A visitor to this website remembers playing in the pond during his childhood; he has kindly allowed us to share this memory, which follows:

Thank you for an excellent and informative site which I shall enjoy exploring.
I knew this area and the paddling pool well in the 1950s and it had changed then little from what your photographs show.

I remember the aim of we small boys on bikes was to jump the bike into the pool and try and ride to the island without getting wet.
Normally we fell off – great fun -and a great shame that the pond had to be filled in.

I grew up in Alverstoke so knew Stokes Bay well and found your site when seeing what was recorded about the old moats, railway and Bay House in particular –
which I ran around in the 50s before the then new school was built.  I will continue to look at your site; many thanks to you, Hazel and others for recording all this.
Martin Walker

We are pleased to have received more memories concening the pond:
Reading your site, and Martin walker’s recollections:
Me and my brother Tim, or Martin as he was then known, grew up in Western Way in the 1950’s and sixties.

When we got to the stage of using bikes, we could then go to Gilkicker pond, instead of being taken in the car.  And yes, I remember there was an island in the middle.  At some stage we came across an old cork lifebelt, took it home, and from the cork segments made a sort of trimaran square sail boat.  Which was sailed on the pond !
Happy days !
Best regards,
Chris Welby.