Most of the land in Billing Parish was at one time part of Great Billing Hall Park, a country estate with a long and varied history. Robert Carey Elwes purchased the Park from the executors of Lord John Cavendish in 1799, thus forming a long and strong local association with the Elwes family which endured until 1930. After its demolition in 1956, the former site of the Hall itself became a residential area centred on Lady Winefride's Walk in Great Billing Village.
For some years now the Parish Council has owned a piece of land (around 2.16 acres) in Little Billing. This is situated in between the rear gardens of domestic houses in Valley Road in the west, and Billing Brook (known locally as the Washbrook) on the eastern side. Once part of the Great Billing Hall Estate, this land ends at the entrance to a right of way into Codlin Close in the north, where the Billing Brook widens into a small lake. This is known locally as Watker's Lake, named after a gamekeeper who was once in the employ of the Estate, and whose cottage was then nearby. To the south the tract ends at the footpath which links Valley Road with Glade Close and Fishponds Road. There is an attractive weir on the edge of the lake, after which the river continues its meandering course in a southerly direction towards Billing Aquadrome. This land is now the new Pocket Park for Little Billing, to be maintained and nurtured by volunteers under the guidance of a Committee of local residents.
The area is most agreeable combining both wooded and open tracts, and benefits from a good asphalt footpath which runs through its centre.
It is already popular with walkers, joggers, cyclists and dog owners, and it is also widely used as a shortcut. By taking the right of way into Codlin Close, access can be obtained, via other footpaths and pedestrian road bridges, to the local shopping complex some 10 to 15 minutes walk away. The footpath further north meanders through a similar sized parcel of land, with the same characteristics, which is in the ownership of the Northampton Borough Council. This is less formal, with a path originally covered with shingle, which has subsequently disappeared, making it rather muddy, particularly in the winter months. Apart from exercise purposes, this is used predominantly by school children whilst on their way to, and returning from, Northampton Academy.
It is anticipated that the creation of the Pocket Park, which it is hoped will be more open for visitors to the stream than at present, will encourage a greater diversity of wildlife through the planting of more native trees, shrubs and new hedging. The creation of new informal paths, a picnic area and a native bluebell area are also planned. Some attention to existing trees, including pollarding is also under review. Please select Volunteering Sessions from the drop down sub-menu for dates and times for volunteers.