A wealthy backer of the newly-formed Devizes Swans Appreciation Society is to seek permission from the town council to drain The Crammer in order to install 40 floating nesting boxes for ducks and swans – at a cost of more than £1 million.

Former hedge fund manager Leda Bayside says she will fund the project out of her own pocket.

Mrs Bayside, who lives in Potterne, is to apply to Devizes Town Council for the go-ahead to fit out The Crammer pond with 32 floating nesting boxes for the ducks and eight for the swans.

She also wants to give The Crammer its own fresh water supply, tapped from a spring that a team of water diviners hired by the millionaire ex-banker have discovered runs beneath The Green.

Wiltshire Times: Swan lover Leda Bayside.Swan lover Leda Bayside.

“As everybody knows, The Crammer’s only current water supply is the run-off from the drains and drain water can be very contaminating for birdlife,” said Mrs Bayside, 54.

She added: “I and the other members of the society believe that it’s about time that we gave the birds on The Crammer clean and decent homes. Some of these nesting boxes are luxurious, like a swan hotel. So I’m getting my chequebook out to make it happen, I can afford it.

“The town’s most famous legend, of the moonrakers, was formed on The Crammer and I believe that we as a town should make more of the pond as a tourist attraction.

“I’m also talking to birdlife experts about planting the right sort of aquatic vegetation there, so that the birds do not have to rely on bread, which is not very good for them. Bread doesn't have much nutritional value and fills the birds up so they don't forage for foods they would naturally eat, which can lead to malnutrition.”

But first the society has to have planning permission to drain The Crammer, which would mean closing Estcourt Street and diverting traffic on the busy A361 while engineering work takes place.

“We anticipate that the work should take no longer than a couple of months, it’s not that much of an inconvenience and we are sure that residents will back the plan if it means we can beautify the area for birdlife,” said a spokesman for the society.

Mrs Bayside, who made her money working for 20 years for the French bank Avril Pitre, added: “When the work is completed I shall also be asking the council if we can re-name The Crammer as Swan Lake.”