The "Clay Pit" is also known as the "Brick Pit", and both
names give an indication of its origin. It is a small attractive lake that is very deep - up to 100 feet. It is a result of the extraction of clay for John Early's brickworks, which started in 1866 and continued in production until 1958. Hence the name. At the bottom of the lake, it is said that there is a workman's cottage and/or hut, and also some brick-making machinery.
Today, the lake is used for fishing (permit only) and for boating, although given the depth and coldness of the water and the steep sides it is very dangerous; there was a tragic boating accident in 2011 when a young boy lost his life.
The photograph to the right is provided courtesy of Mike Crute, and is dated approximately 1934. It shows the brick-works and the area that is now the Clay Pit, plus the railway and Cook's Crossing clearly identifiable. Brown's Corner is just outside the top of the photograph.The cottages along Littleheath Lane can be clearly seen.
This industrial scene, which would be shocking to think of in Oxshott today, contrasts with the beauty, recreational utility and environmental benefit of the Clay Pit today, and is a helpful reminder of how nature can repair and restore the results of industrial activities.
The Clay Pit can be accessed from Heathfield and Hawkhurst via Somerville Road, and also from Blundel Lane via Irene Road, carefully using the pedestrian crossing over the railway line. It is a lovely place to walk and spend a tranquil hour feeding the water birds.