“The flooding around the Atlantic Pond is a huge source of concern for users of the amenity. The Atlantic Pond is as busy as The Lough in terms of frequent visitors and also is a site of high biodiversity value. So pressure is high on us local public reps to secure a solution for the flooding. I spoke with the City Council Engineer on site in the last few mornings. The drainage team present, as well as the contracted marine scuba diving engineer team, have only just found the much corroded and collapsed large iron flap/ gate, which leaves water in and out under the Marina Walk.
The large broken iron flap/gate section with its enormous pipe is 1970s in date and it is this pipe the scuba diver went down into safely last Friday morning. The pipe connects into the much larger 1840s engineering section which can be seen through tree and old stone arches in the eastern section of the Atlantic Pond. As it is a specialised engineering job, the City Council have estimated that the cost of repair is anywhere between e30,000 and e50,000. They have applied to central government for such emergency funding and await the government’s response. In the meantime, the engineering resolution is estimated at another fortnight at least. I will keep my pressure on a resolution.
The inadvertent flooding though has brought a huge focus by City Engineers on the historic construction and engineering of the Atlantic Pond. With my historian hat on, the Atlantic Pond was one of the city’s greatest engineering projects of early nineteenth century Cork and has stood the test of time for nearly 180 years. Its story is one of innovation and forward thinking. In 1843, City engineer Edward Russell was commissioned to present plans for the reclamation of the south sloblands, some 230 acres extending from Victoria Road to the river front with the proposed aim of creating an enormous public park and some building ground.
The task proposed was epic as the slobland undulated and when the tide was in, various areas of the slobland were more solid than others. Edward Russell’s eventual published plan in December 1843 proposed the extension and widening of the dock like Navigation Wall creating the Marina Walk, to manage the flow of tidal water entering the land by installing sluice gates, sluice tunnels and embankments.
Edward’s proposal for further reclamation of the South Sloblands did happen as well as the construction of a holding pond – a reservoir of six acres in size with sheeting piles driven in underneath it and possesses ornamental features to the general public. The latter became known as the Atlantic Pond and still possesses its Victorian sluice gates and tunnels to facilitate the drainage and exclusion of water. The Great Famine and post economic fall-out took away the opportunity for the public park but in 1869 after twenty years of further drainage and land reclamation, business man John Arnott leased the south sloblands from Cork Corporation and it was converted into the Cork City Park Race Course. In 1917 the heart of its space was converted into the Ford Tractor Manufacturing Plant but the central road of the racecourse was retained – Centre Park Road.
It’s clear what Cork Engineers built in the 1840s has lasted for near 180 years without any issue. There is enormous value in such an amenity. It is important now that finance is found to secure the use of the Atlantic Pond amenity for future decades”.