A Brief History of Abingdon Marina Residents Association
Development of the marina area began in the early to mid-80s. Before then, the eastern part, where the Quays are now, was rural and potentially a flood plain. The western part was an old landfill site. Plans for the development included Fisherman’s Wharf, the Quays and an inner marina surrounded by Marina Way. The island was not included in the original plans, but was added later and was to become the most contentious part of the development; it lead to the foundation of AMRA.
The north end of the site was built first, with work then moving gradually southwards down West Quay before finally reaching South Quay. Excavation for the inner marina exposed significantly contaminated soil, from the old landfill. The builders, who had taken over the project a few years earlier, found that the cost of transporting the contaminated soil to Swindon would be prohibitive, so the island was proposed as a place to dump the soil and also to increase the building space. The key issue was that the island had not received any official planning consent. The island would have doubled the surface area of the South Quay peninsular and would also be a major intrusion into the space and appearance of the marina lake.
The plan now looked like this:
Work began on the island in the mid-90s. By then most of the houses in the north of the site had been sold and occupied. The photo below, taken from 6 North Quay, shows sheet steel piling and ground filling in progress:
The residents tried to stop the island being created, but were not getting anywhere locally, so the matter was taken to higher authorities, not least the High Court and central government. This took a great deal of money, most of which was very generously put up by a single resident. It also took a lot of time. AMRA was formed to give the residents a unified voice and, through membership contributions, to maintain a reserve fund. A constitution was adopted in 1999. To this day, AMRA maintains a modest reserve fund in case of any future disputes.
The island was dug out. Excavation of the inner marina stopped and it was back filled. The old linking canal can still be seen, stopping under the bridge on West Quay. The southern part of the landfill site became South Park, gas vents can be seen dotted around the area.
The contaminated soil was another issue. Not surprisingly, contaminants in the dumped soil seeped into the marina water. Fish floated to the surface, ducks died, swans died and wildlife deserted the area. This issue was resolved by a combination of the local authority, river authorities, the Environment Agency and various wildlife trusts.
Another achievement of AMRA was the closure of the link to Wilsham Road, thus eliminating through traffic for cars and trucks.
Since then, the marina has settled and matured. AMRA has been active in addressing obstructive car parking at the Preston Road / Lambrick Way junction and most recently trying to tackle the lake weed problem. Attempts to introduce a 20 mph speed limit have not yet come to fruition. AMRA has also organized regular social events for residents.
Residents have formed ad hoc groups to maintain and improve the environment; cutting back brambles and thorns, planting and improving the appearance of verges. We can look forward to more planting.
AMRA responded quickly and effectively to the pandemic and lock down. A designated phone-line and email were established (see Home Page for details) along with a list of volunteers prepared to assist residents (members and non-members) who were shielding and had asked for assistance. As of Spring 2021 this service continues. More recently we have set up a forum for members only via Facebook. Contact Claire Heald: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join.
The COVID pandemic has had a major impact on the regular social events of the Association, but members have rallied round to provide help and support to those who have needed it. Writing this, in the Spring of 2021, we are not yet out of the woods, but we are getting there..........