Canvey Lake was part of the waterways that flowed through and around the five Islands which originally made up what was then Cana Island. The lake was once part of Smallgains Creek before the Dutch built the wall. There were thought to be Oyster beds in the lake, this is where it is thought Oysterfleet Farm and the surrounding area get the name. The water is no longer salted and the lake has been preserved over the years as a Nature Reserve and a Fishing Lake.
The Lake is also the location of one of Canvey’s ghost stories. Here is a short excerpt from Robert Hallmann’s book ‘Canvey Island A History’ which tells the story.
‘An Apparition seen walking the lakeside path is said to be that of a driver looking for his horse and cart. Following a stop at a local hostelry, the man, pursuing a shortcut in a befuddled state, drove into the lake, horse and cart quickly sinking into the soft silt. Another version places the incident in winter and the passage over a frozen lake that gave way. When the lake was dredged in the 1980’s, the partial remains of a draft horse were found, skull and skeleton, as well as cartwheels, now on view at the Heritage Centre. There was no trace, though, of the man.’
I clearly remember the story being told when the discovery was made in the 1980’s.
This weekend Greengrid Taskforce, a volunteer service run by Groundwork South Essex with the aid of local volunteers will be organising a clean-up of the lake and its surrounding area.
Anyone interested in helping should turn up at the Denham Bridge at 10 am this Saturday 30th August.
Below are just some of the many birds that can be found in the lake. Help make the lake area better for man and fowl.
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Hi, Janet, in my forthcoming book ‘Essex Ghost Stories’ I have taken history a step further and imagined just how such stories may have come about. After all, had people known of the horse and cart in the lake, would they not have been retrieved? Canvey never was so rich in trees and carts, even if useless, would still give warmth in a winter hearth…
It’s great to hear the area is given a clean-up. I would even go as far as to suggest planting willows on its banks. Congratulations and good luck to the volunteers. Robert
I remember when the lake was tidied up in the 80s. Wasn’t that when they erected that awful green castle on one of the islands? I’m sure prior to this tidying up there used to be willows? I used to love the lake. It was my favourite walk into town. It was great as a child to go catching newts and tadpoles near Snake Bridge. (Does anyone know if that’s it real name?) We always used to think the mysterious bubbling in the water there was some kind of Loch Ness-type monster! (What was it, anyway?!)
I lived with my family by the lake for 20yrs and marvelled at the wildlife & scenery each morning as I opened the bedroom curtains. I heard the ghostly sound of the horses hooves (early May) several times, and the remains of the horse and cart were retrieved from the lake during the big clean up in the early 80’s!!
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