Lake Dredge to pause over Christmas

Dredging of our Queen Pool will be paused over Christmas and re-start in the spring.

The decision to temporarily halt the dredge, which is being carried out by leading wet civil engineering contractor, Land & Water, was taken due to weather conditions.

The mild conditions over recent weeks, combined with heavy rainfall have resulted in areas around the work site becoming waterlogged.

In addition to significantly slowing down the dredging process, it was felt the pause would also minimise the risk of any potential damage to the Parkland.

While the work is on hold, visitors will once again be able to access the walking loop around our Queen Pool.

On completion, the dredging project will have removed 300,000 cubic metres of silt from our ‘Capability’ Brown designed lake - enough to fill Wembley Stadium.

The dredge, which is believed to be one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken at a UK heritage site, will return our lake to its original depth of two metres from its current shallows of 30cm.

“The dredging is progressing well and Land & Water is approaching the halfway point of what is a hugely ambitious project,” said our Estate Director Roy Cox. 

“Rather than risk potentially damaging the Parkland and have the team working at a slower pace than normal, it was decided to halt operations, let the excess water drain away and recommence work in the spring when conditions will be more favourable,” he added.

A flotilla of diggers carefully removes silt from our lake, which is then taken to shore on specially designed hoppers and deposited into a fleet of vehicles which then transport it to an area of our Estate known as Great Park where it is being used to create a new 16-hectare grassland mound.

"During the winter months, Land & Water is pausing the Blenheim dredge with a view to returning in the spring to complete the project,” said Project Manager Charlie Oakes.

“This decision has been made in conjunction with the Blenheim project management team and is made in an effort to reduce the downtime and inefficiency of working during the winter and minimise the damage to the park caused by working in extremely wet conditions,” he added.

The last major dredging operation was in 1895-1897 when 150,000mof silt was removed.

Queen Pool is our upper lake and was created by ‘Capability’ Brown around 1763 as part of his extensive re-landscaping of our Park and Gardens. The man-made lake gets its name from a 14th century fish pool that was known to be a favourite place of Queen Philippa, wife of Edward III.