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The brick pits have two lakes - one of 1.0 ha (4.7 acres) and the other 1.1 ha (2.7 acres)- a total water area of 3 hectares (7.4 acres) in a land area of some 14 hectares (35 acres). There are no water bodies of that area within a considerable distance so the site is important.
Initially the Cambridge Greensand which overlies the Gault clay was mined for its high phosphate content. The phosphate is in nodules which were mined from 1846 until the 1870s. The factory on the south side of Factory Road was originally a phosphate fertilizer factory processing these nodules.
The main brick pit supplied a factory which was set up in 1926 to use the Gault clay. Cambridgeshire Geological Society has a pdf entitled Aspects of Geological Interest in Burwell which gives some information on the brickworks and has supplied some of the information on this page.
From October 2013 the brick pits were used as a fishery - Burwell Brick Pit Angling Club Ltd - but the company was dissolved 16 May 2017. Rumour hasit that the pits were subsequently sold to a local builder - Mead Construction Ltd. However the owners of the pit deny this, see below.
In early 2018 pumps and probably about a mile of pipe were laid, apparently to drain the pits. Certainly by early April the water level had been dropped by nearly a metre despite the extremely wet spring weather.
I am forced to wonder what purpose a building company has on mind for such pits: it has been suggested for landfill. But why, then, drain them? It seems that this is to extract the fish. There are some very large carp in there and these must have a significant resale value - apparently thought to be enough to justify draining the water to catch them. It is probably the fishery owners doing the extraction and fish reselling.
Monday the 9th of April, 2018. I have just had a telephone conversation with Carol Ann Aykin and Steven John Calder who were the registered directors of Burwell Brick Pit Angling Club Ltd. They say they still own the pits and it has not been sold. However they were both extremely defensive about their plans for the site and very annoyed that I had photographed there. "It is private property and none of your business". I failed to get any sensible discussion from them as to what they plan to do with the site..
I am forced to wonder even more strongly what is going on. Why would the owners not want to discuss plans - unless those plans were such that they did not want them made public? They appeared to be putting up a verbal smoke-screen. No smoke without fire!
I have also talked with East Cambridge District Council planning department. They are aware of the changing status of the land and are keeping it under surveillance. Permission has been granted to reduce the water level to manage the fish stocks. So far nothing illegal has happened. Until there is evidence of something changing nothing can be done.
Watch this space....
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