Mercia Marina had its origins in 76 acres of farmland with gravel deposits. John and Michael Thornton bought the land in the 1980s and, rented out to a local farmer, it was farmed with cereals – mainly wheat – until the mid 1990s. Then, with the building of the A50, the gravel was extracted for the construction of the carriageway. The resultant workings were converted into a fishing lake which was stocked with trout. The perimeter of the field was planted with native trees and some poplars.
The Thornton’s land agent had suggested they look at connecting the lake with the canal and building a marina and the serious planning for this began in the early 2000s. From the earliest days of its planning, the environment and wildlife were taken seriously.
The Ecology and Wildlife Plans were produced and have details of the vegetation, bird, amphibian and bat surveys (click an image to read; it will open in a new window as a .pdf). The 30 bird species recorded in the survey in May 2006 were, for the most part, farmland and garden birds with some water bird species round the lake. The amphibian surveys were undertake in May and June 2006 and they produced frog tadpoles and one toad. Finally, the bat survey in May 2006 produced a common pipistrelle. The overall conclusion was a fairly barren area in wildlife terms. So a considerable investment in landscaping was made and since then there has been a continuing and purposeful effort to develop an environmentally-friendly site.
Providing a first-class facility for boaters is the core business and, as such, the Marina, which was opened in 2008, is a commercial enterprise subject to local planning requirements and local business consideration. However, within those constraints a remarkable micro site is developing.