Sketches by C Shutler of
A village history in West Sussex
Memories of Westbourne start at Emsworth the childhood home of my mother. With my brother Leonard our parents decided we should escape the escalating bombing of Portsmouth. The Mill Pond was just over the road from my grandparents and many hours were spent here catching shrimps and towing a boat. It was a stepping stone to staying with our mother's sister who lived in Westbourne and whose husband was away at sea. Later my sister and parents came to live in the village.
Before the Mill Pond wall was constructed in the 18th century, the area was a tidal creek similar to the 'rythes' on Hayling island. When the Mill Pond was first enclosed, its tidal nature was retained. Wooden gates next to the Quay Mill opened at high tide to let the Pond fill, and to let vessels into the pond which loaded or emptied cargoes from the malthouse.
The water level in the pond would have fallen quite rapidly when the mill was working since the impounded water was released to drive the turbine under the mill building. The Mill Pond was used as a swimming pool and there was a bathing hut on the Promenade near to the mill building, with a short bridge ending in a ladder used by bathers to enter the water. Bathing fell out of fashion when it was found that the water in the Mill Pond was brackish due to the flow of fresh water from the West Brook.