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Blenheim dredging project removes 100,000m3 of silt in huge preservation project

Posted on October 13, 2022

An ongoing dredging project at Blenheim has removed 100,000 cubic metres of silt, marking the completion of the first stage of the nine-month project.

The work is taking place to stop the UNESCO World Heritage site’s Queen Pool from drying out by returning it to its original depth of two metres. Before the work started, it was only 30cm deep.

Once complete, contractor Land & Water will have removed 300,000 cubic metres of silt. That is enough silt to fill Wembley Stadium.

One of the floating diggers at work on Queen Pool.

Queen Pool dates back to around 1763, when it was designed by ‘Capability’ Brown as part of his extensive re-landscaping of the park and gardens. Its name comes from a 14th century fish pool loved by Edward III’s wife, Queen Philippa.

Blenheim Estate director, Roy Cox, commented: “The Queen Pool is an iconic part of the World Heritage Site, it’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest, SSSI, a fishery and a national treasure seen by over a million people each year.

“Over 70 per cent of the lake now has a depth of just 30cms or less. It is silting up at a rate of one to two centimetres per year but, during severe storms, deposits can reach up to 20cm.

“Without this drastic intervention the Queen Pool would revert to a wetland in the next 5-10 years and the nation’s ‘Finest View’ will be lost.”

Over nine months, floating diggers are moving over the surface of the lake, filling up six hoppers which transfer the silt to land.

This removed silt is being relocated to an area of the estate known as Great Park to create a new 16-hectare grassland mound.

Removed silt being placed at Great Park. 

Land & Water’s Project Manager, Charlie Oakes, said: “We are thrilled to have reached the 100,000m3 milestone. The Blenheim project has been an incredible undertaking and we have valued the chance to work on such an iconic landscape.

“We are now a third of the way through our dredging journey at Blenheim Palace, with the final dredge anticipated to finish early next year.”


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