IT WAS once a beauty spot enjoyed by residents and visitors, later becoming a neglected mass of stagnant and litter filled water, before being rescued by a local community group.

The original naming of Miller’s Pond in Sholing is unclear, although it’s believed to have been a mill pond for the mill of the old manor of Woolston. The mill itself could have been lower down, with the pond building up a head of water for the long since gone old mill.

An early 18th century map shows the U-shaped pond, and although no mill is marked, it shows ‘Miller’s Land’ and ‘Mill Close.’

When the ships blockmaker William Taylor moved from Portsmouth after a fire in around 1770, he moved to Mayfield Park and built a mill on the stream there, using the water from Miller’s Pond. The scheme was unsuccessful, and so he moved his work to Woodmill.

In the 19th century the The Stranger’s Guide to Southampton described the pond: “The Portsmouth road leads direct from the Itchen bridge landing - at Miller’s Pond there is a pretty scene - the clear water of this large pool, overhung by trees and backed by a wild heath, with the neat lodges and fine woods of Weston-grove on the right. Here as the stranger would find himself again on the heath which stretches almost from the Itchen to the Bursledon river, he will return or take the road to Weston or Itchen.”

The scene in August 1961 however was very different.

The once glorious scene had become overgrown and full of reeds, littered with tins and old tyres. Even a pair of swans swimming on the water were reportedly dingy and grey instead of their usual brilliant white.

Letters sent to the Echo described it as an “overgrown, evil-smelling pond, chock full of human rubbish and green oily slime”.

It was at this point when the pond begun receiving the attention of Southampton Borough Council, and the planning of a large scale development began.

The original intentions were to build seven hundred houses, a library, a school and a shopping centre.

In 1965 a £45,000 culverting scheme began to take the Thornhill and Harefield streams underground to Mayfield Park and out to the Itchen.

As well as foundations being laid for part of the planned development, a section was to be reverted to it’s former glory, becoming a pleasant amenity to the new Miller’s Pond area.

But 13 years later, nothing had changed, and so the Southampton Schools Conservation Corps, a group of volunteers, painstakingly cleared the marshy area of trees, undergrowth and rubbish.

Just four month later and the pond was full of water with the beginnings of active plant and animal colonies.

The Miller’s Pond district never came to fruition, and the building work in the area has been kept to a minimum thanks to the relentless campaigning of the local residents - much to the delight of the rare and threatened birds who call the tiny wildlife enclave home.

The area was named as a Local Nature Reserve in 2011.