The mysterious volcano of Blackheath

The Blackheath volcano by Flickr user Beglen
Twitter user @beglen sent a message to my twitter account, asking if I had seen the “bubbling heath”… Intrigued, I went to take a look at the flickr page suggested, and sure enough, there is a mysterious venting of gas from the depths… I believe the photos are near the Hare & Billet pub, next to the pond that is constantly overflowing.

So what could it be? Do we have a smaller Blackheath Loch Ness Monster? Has Spring Heeled Jack returned to scare us, or could it be another mysterious haunting on the Hare and Billet road?

Or perhaps there is a more geological explanation, and soon all of Blackheath will generate its electricity from thermal spa, like they do in Iceland… I can dream…


Filed under blackheath

14 responses to “The mysterious volcano of Blackheath

  1. It is probably escaping gas from decomposing vegetation, leaf mould and the like. I’m unaware of Blackheath’s potential as an area of Geothermal activity….

  2. Matt

    I was wondering about that pond this morning – the council (I presume) seem to have been digging up at one end of it, and the water level looks to have fallen pretty dramatically so I reckon they’ve been sorting out the draining so it doesn’t flood the road any more. So I reckon they’re sending the overflow into one of the caverns, and that’d explain the source of the air, perhaps…

  3. Anonymous

    They just dug a bloody big trench to reconnect with the main drain [now filled]. It may be related. The pond’s looking sadder as the water level has dropped. Mud beaches.

  4. There are lots of telecoms ducts under the heath, and they are slightly pressurised to stop water from penetrating. Might be that one has sprung a small leak.

  5. nick

    I’ve been pestering the council to put a pavement alongside the pond, as it’s treacherous crossing from the Hare & Billet pavement across the roundabout to Duke Humphrey road (especially with a pram, and especiallyX2 when the road is flooded).

    Of course, the guardians of the heath won’t give up a blade of grass without good reason, so it will probably take a few deaths on that roundabout to make them see sense.

    The chap from the council flagged that a ‘wish line’ (a muddy track) has already appeared round the pond where people already walk to navigate the roundabout. He noted that getting anything done would be near impossible, as the heath guardians wouldn’t maintain a pavement (that’s the council’s job) nor would the council (as it would be situated on the heath). Are you losing the will to live too? I was.

    However, on a lighter note, he did tell me that he has a photo of the pond taken in the late 1800s, and guess what….? The road is completely flooded.

  6. David

    I walked past this area on my way to work this morning. The photos don’t show it very well, but this little hole looks to me like it’s been squirting up water for quite a long time:


    There is a definite hole in the ground where the water presumably comes out. And the ground around it is raised, like mud has been coming up with the water over the years.

    Interesting stuff!

  7. Anonymous

    All the old pictures show the pond spilling across the road in its natural state. I guess they built an earth bank to delineate the road – perhaps when the gravel pits were filled and the Heath relaid after the war. That has not changed the natural lie of the land, however, and once the road drain clogged/broke it was inevitable that water would accumulate.
    I don’t think it was the pond overflowing but rainwater pooling in the dip. It has a knock-on effect in storms, as the overflow runs down the hill into Royal Parade and floods Brigade Street – where there are more broken drains.
    All this information would be available if the little-known management plan for the Heath was published. The Joint Working Party public meeting a couple of weeks ago at John Ball School [everybody was told about that, weren’t they?] was meant to focus on the Green Flag bid for the Heath but was dominated by complaints about this flooding and crumbling paths. A promise emerged that the plan would be put on the internet. No sign yet.

  8. Bob Land

    I found the following on internet :

    ” Hare and Billet pond had a tendency to dry out during summers with little rain, but the de-silting and the provision by the Council of a standpipe should ensure that it remains a permanent pond in the future. This should help to increase the populations of frogs and smooth newts which breed in the pond, as well as encouraging a greater diversity of aquatic invertebrates.

    The provision of some shelter, in the form of long grass and shrubs, around the pond would improve the terrestrial habitat for amphibians. The de-silting has also helped to improve the water quality in the pond, although runoff from the nearby mini-roundabout on Hare and Billet Road, and leaf fall from the surrounding trees, remain a problem ” .

  9. I walked past last night and there was a LOT of water coming out of the main volcano! So I walked home, got camera and torch and headed back. It was windy and rainy, but hopefully it was worth it.

    Better photos and some video here, alongside the original photos:

  10. And I just noticed the Hare and Billet discussion. The photos are here (map): opposite the Princess of Wales, at the start of the path towards Vanbrugh Terrace.

    The first spot is right at the start of the path. The spot that was really going for it last night is another minute down the path away from Blackheath.

  11. Anonymous

    Aha! So it’s not the Hare & Billet volcano after all. It’s the PoW volcano. You just can’t trust the internet :]

  12. I thought you all realised that this blog is a work of fiction?!

  13. Blackheath Ann

    Well it was such a fine morning that I decided to forage in search of these phenomena. I had to skulk about a bit as two people I knew were passing by, not conducive to peaceful rooting about in volcanic outgrowths. Eventually got a good chance to peer right into the largest crater, which was lying dormant! Right down in the middle, amidst a splodgeof muddy lava I could see what looked like a dislodged drain cover with a hole beneath. There are are few other similar square metal covers visible nearby, so I think this one must have been buried. It looks like it’s just a blocked drain which comes bubbling up after a rain shower, or maybe when Blackheathens are abluting to the max. Perhaps the council need to dig up the heath there, like they’ve just done with the Hare & Billet pond drain.

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