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27 November 2014

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You are in: Essex > History > Local History > Dunmow's Doctors Pond

Great Dunmow's Doctors pond

Leeches were kept in the Doctors Pond

Dunmow's Doctors Pond

Why is the Doctors Pond in Great Dunmow called the Doctors Pond, and how is it connected to the invention of the life boat? Local historian Peter Street has been looking into its past.

Great Dunmow has a population of almost 7000 people and at the heart of the town sits the Doctors Pond.

Peter Street

Peter Street is a local historian

But how did it get its name?  Peter Street is the Chairman of the History Society and he says it could be to do with two of the local doctors.

One theory is that Doctor Rayner who lived in the town in the 18th Century used to care for the pond and keep it stocked with fish. 

Opposite the pond there is a house called Brick House and two other doctors also lived there. This was known as the doctors house.  In those days leeches were used in medicine to treat all sorts of problems.  It's thought that the doctors used to keep their supply of leeches in the doctors pond.

Lionel Lukin (1742-1834)

Born in Dunmow Lionel Lukin is famous for inventing his non-sinkable lifeboat.  Peter says he used the pond to test out models:

Lionel Lukin

Lionel Lukin tested his life boat

"Long before the Royal Naval Lifeboat Institute was formed he invented this boat that was essentially a shell with air bags around it and he tested models of it out on the doctors pond.

"When he made his first efforts at a full scale boat somebody pinched it and he never got it back again!"

According to Peter the pond has hardly changed at all over the last 30-years since he has lived in Dunmow, and it is kept stocked by the local council for fishing and children enjoy sailing boats on it.

last updated: 06/08/2008 at 11:13
created: 06/08/2008

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