© Steve Marshall / Wild Future

A Wembley Connection?

It has often been said that the gravel from Stocker's Lake was used to build the old Wembley Stadium (pictured). Although the time was right, there is no direct evidence. The Empire Stadium as it was originally known, was built as the centrepiece of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. It was first opened to the public a year before, on 28 April 1923 for the FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham. This was known as the 'White Horse' final because PC George Scorey and his white police horse Billie were needed to clear the pitch of spectators before the match could begin.

The stadium , designed by the architects Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayerton, took just 300 days to complete at a cost of £750,000. The engineer was Sir Owen Williams and 25,000 tons of ferro-concrete and 1000 tons of steel were used.

Since 1922

Dredging and gravel extraction continued until the 1940s. In 1947 Rickmansworth and Uxbridge Valley Water Company purchased Stocker's Lake (an area of 93.7 acres) for £5000 as the dredging agreement had expired. This was to protect the aquifer and pumping sources at Stocker's and Springwell. The company became Rickmansworth Water Company in 1985 and later part of Three Valleys Water Company, eventually Affinity Water, the present owners.

In the 1970s Stocker’s Lake became a nature reserve and day to day management was assigned by the water company to Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. The main reason was that the lake had started to support nationally significant numbers of wildfowl, especially Shoveler.

Friends of Stocker’s Lake was started in May 1990, by voluntary warden Richard Drew and his friend Jol Mitchell, FoSl chairman 1990-2003. Their idea was to use 'friends' annual subscriptions to fund the construction of bird hides and other projects around the lake. And so it has proved. By 2016 FoSL had spent more than £70,000 on the reserve, with only a little of this coming from grants.