The developments around the village of Great Stoke, now more commonly known as Stoke Gifford, have filled in 16 ponds, marked with an X on the map below, two of which were large enough sadly for two people to have drowned in. The one pond left is now covered in vegetation and in October 2016 was dry.
When I moved here in 1985 it was quite common for Gypsy Patch lane to be flooded where it runs under the railway line. A lady told me about the watercress that used to grow in the stream flowing down from the spring at the bottom of Mead Road along what is now Winterbourne Road. There is no trace of the spring now but the water channels alongside Mead Park are easily seen.
The arrangement of the streams to the northwest of Stoke Gifford have been altered, at one time the stream that rose in Ramsleaze Pool and in the village of Hempton, flowed around Great Dengrove field now part of the 40 Acres park, then it appears to have been altered to take a sharp turn eastwards along what is now Bush avenue, then altered again to flow south alongside the railway line to meet the Stoke Brook.
A view of the area on the 1880’s map available at the website, ‘Bristol Know Your Place’, shows quite clearly streams flowing in straight lines and turning sharp corners.
If water engineering was taking place it was prior to 1725 as an old map shows similar straight lines and sharp bends.
The field in which St. Michael’s School now stands has an unusual feature in that prior to the building of the school, it was extensively drained and the fish bone pattern of drainpipes can be seen on aerial photographs in dry years. It can be seen very clearly on the 1999 map available from the ‘Get Mapping’ website
I have searched the aerial photographs from the same series and cannot find any other field nearby showing such drainage. At the top of the field is an underground spring which probably explains the problems the farmer was having. When I spoke to locals who had lived close by to it for some 50 years, they had not known about the spring, and it was only discovered with some recent building work.