Wandle cleanup: November 2015: Plough Lane

The one with a record amount of rubbish!

BasherAnother month, another Wandle Trust cleanup, and for November we returned to Plough Lane in Merton.

After holding a two minute silence for Remembrance Day, 40 eager volunteers descended on the river to hunt down rubbish and clean up the surrounding area; supervised by myself and Basher.

Our wading team, led by Derek, got straight in and starting finding trugs and trugs of rubbish – it really was rich pickings!

I was soon presented with the first of many gifts from the wading team – my very own bike.


Another interesting find in the morning was a Boris Bike – the bike was still working and we used it for the rest of the day, travelling up and down the Wandle Trail with tools.


After a busy morning, we all stopped for some much needed cheese scones and chocolate cake, kindly made for us Ann and Tesco’s.

The afternoon saw more and more rubbish – including another children’s bike:


A TK Max trolley:


And a mattress frame:


Just when we were wrapping up for the day, a mystery item was found lurking in the depths of silt in the Wandle. Soon the entire wading team were called in as back up to find out what this item was, and everyone was pulling and heaving on the grappling hooks. What was it? Well it was a car frame we think…


All in all, we pulled out an amazing amount of rubbish from the Wandle at Plough Lane – just check out the rubbish pile!


So what did we find?  1 jumper, 1 pair of jogging bottoms, 1 safe, 1 toy guitar, 1 Boris bike, 1 TK Max trolley, 1 car seat, 1 set of false teeth, 1 hub cap, 1 Coolest Christmas Ever DVD, 1 tennis racquet, 1 stereo system, 1 coconut, 1 bike wheel, 1 Wix trolley, 1 floor lino, 2 hanging baskets, 2 traffic cones, 2 kids bikes, 4 car mats, 4 car carpets, 4 licence plates, rolls and rolls of carpet, and lots more bags of plastic, metal and other rubbish

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Ann for catering for our volunteers (cheese scones were delicious!), Louise for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise everyone on the day, and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Aimee, Alima, Andrea, Andy, Ann, Anna, Audrey, Bill, Brandi, Charles, Chris, Danielle, Dave, David H, David S, Debora, Derek, Ed, George, Guy, Hannah, Helen, Hugo, Jan , Jane, John N, John S, Karoline, Lorenzo, Louise, Lucinda, Max, McKay, Mike, Nick, Nusrut, Patrick, Paul, Penny, Phil, Richard, Rose, Scarlett, Stewart, Theo, Tony, Victor, Wally, Wayne and Yvana.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?  Sometimes you get muddier packing the van than at the actual cleanup!

Our New Education Programme has Arrived: Project Kingfisher!

KingfisherlogocolourThe Wandle Trust, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, is inviting nurseries, schools and colleges along the river to get involved in our new education project: Project Kingfisher.

Project Kingfisher is built around the good practice of the Trust’s award winning Trout in the Classroom project.

During the spring term 2016 children will enjoy seeing the ‘Creatures in the Classroom’ whilst at the same time learning more about them.

Take a look at the options below and click the pictures to find out more!

Tyre Ponds

Shrimps in Schools

Tadpoles in Tanks

Sticklebacks in Schools

AND our newest one, Roach in the 3 R’s 

To find out more about any of these exciting projects follow the links to our Creatures in the Classroom pages under Education.

If you have any questions then do not hesitate to drop a line to education@wandletrust.org

Logo Banner - HLF

Wandle cleanup: October 2015: Earlsfield

The one with the TV crew, bacon sandwiches and my new hoody…

Our October cleanup this year was pretty special, but where to start?!

Let’s go with location. So for October we were back to the infamous Trewint Street in Earlsfield, and by 11 o’clock I had been joined by a staggering 72 people! No pressure…

Seymour GreenSeymour Green Estate Agents who were supporting the event joined us with their local team as well as South West London TV who had come to film our event and see what we get up to on the second Sunday of every month.

On top of this, we were joined by Mancinism Design who had made organic cotton bags and branded jumpers especially for the event. Mine was so comfy I wore it all day, and into the office on Monday!

So even before we had started, it was already a special cleanup.

Organic Bags

To get the event started, I introduced the day’s plan which was to divide into two wading groups. One to head upstream in the hunt of motorbikes (a classic find at Trewint Street unfortunately) and one to head downstream for all sorts of other rubbish.

Everyone else would support from the bank and litter pick on the Wandle Trail.

So off we went.

Pretty quickly, the wading team were finding plenty of rubbish in the river. However the added challenge of Trewint Street is that the trugs of rubbish have to be hauled up the concrete wall – not logistically easy.


Our motorbike hunting team were off to a slow start, but just as we thought there weren’t any, we found two! The first came up relatively easy, being a small moped. But the second took 15 people on a rope to heave up. The students from Richmond International University all grabbed the ropes and dragged the bike all the way back to the rubbish pile – we were very glad they all came along!


Downstream of the bridge, our wading team were finding some large items which they then had to drag back up the river (against the flow) for us to haul up. They found a toddler’s cot..

tyres and bbq


And a motorbike which was too heavy to bring back so we hauled it out onto the bank to be collected during our next cleanup downstream at Ravensbury Terrace.


Meanwhile, cleanup guru Jane and Winston (Macinism Design) had found something lurking in the silt of the Wandle, but the identity of the mystery object remained unknown all morning as they struggled to move it on their own. Luckily after lunch we sent more helpers and the object was found to be an old fireplace.

Speaking of lunch – what a treat! Ben’s Canteen supplied us all with bacon rolls! These quickly disappeared among the hungry volunteers. And Bean & Hop sent us some other snacks to share around. So a big thank you to them!

After lunch, everyone was back in the river. One of the last finds was a carpet – not an easy things to pull out of the river, let alone drag back up the channel, haul over the concrete wall and then ferry it to the rubbish pile. But it made it!


So it was a hugely successful day! Thank you to all the volunteers who came along to our event, we hope to see you all at the next one on November 8th at Plough Lane!

So what did we find?  1 fireplace, 1 radiator, 1 BBQ, 1 toddler playpen, 1 Woody doll (who had seen better days), 1 mattress wire, 1 strimmer, 1 vacuum cleaner, 1 number plate, 1 CD player (old school), 1 bicycle tyre, 1 Avengers Assemble football, 1 generic football, 1 bench, 1 carpet, 2 trolleys, 2 motorbikes, 4 tyres, several random pieces of metal and 40 bags of other rubbish.

Rubbish Pile

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and Rose for supervising the Event Tent; Wally, Theo & Chris for helping supervise everyone on the day, Mancinism Design for our jumpers and bags, South West London TV for coming along and Ben’s Canteen for the bacon sandwiches and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abigail, Adam, Andrew W, Ann W, Brandi, Breuno, Brigid, Charles WS, Chris E, Chris R, Claire, Colin, Colin M, Curtis, Daniel, Dave J, Dave P, David W, Derek, Ed, Faisal, Geroid, Giacometi, Giulla, Hannah, Henry, Ida, Jack, Jane P, Jason, Jess, Jessica, Joanna, John N, Jonathan, Kimberly, Linus M, Lois, Louise, Luca, Maggie, Michael, Michael R, Nick, Nikola, Noah, Oliver, Olivia, Paul R, Penny, Phil, Rachel, Rob, Rose, Rosemary, Russell, Sally, Sara M, Sarah, Shannon, Simon, Tate, Theo, Tom, Vic, Wafiya, Wally, Wayne, William, Winston and Zoe.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   There is nothing better than a bacon sandwich after a morning of Wandle work.

Check out South West London TV’s Video of the Cleanup here!

Wandle cleanup: September 2015: Ravensbury Park

The one with very muddy volunteers…

September saw our final Capital Cleanup event in Ravensbury Park kindly funded by the Mayor of London’s Capital Cleanup fund and the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.


As traditional for our September cleanup, we were joined by Friends of Ravensbury Park who had their eyes set on clearing the infamous floating pennywort from the lake. They really had a big task ahead of them!

Luckily we were also joined by a keen team from ZipCar (our van suppliers) who under the supervision of the Friends of Ravensbury Park, headed straight to the lake to battle the aquatic menace.


The rest of our cleanup team headed to the river to clear rubbish throughout the park. Quickly discovering plenty of rubbish lurking in the depths including this Frozen football – perhaps I’ll save it for a Christmas present for my little cousin, after cleaning it of course!


Meanwhile, the ZipCar team were finally learning what we get up to when we book their van once a month. Muddy, muddy work. Without much persuasion, several members hopped in the lake and got stuck in, sawing and towing pennywort to the jetty while the others dragged the plant out and ferried it to the impressive dumping pile.

Floating pennywort

Pennywort Pulling

Lunch came around giving everyone a welcome break from the hard work of the morning. But with so much pennywort, the break couldn’t last forever….

More pennywort

The wading team were making great progress and headed down the back channel to check for rubbish.


In the afternoon, my favourite find was discovered – an inflatable microphone which got me in the singing mood. Luckily, no one was around to record my rendition of Taylor Swift.

X Factor

Thank you to all the volunteers who came along to our event!

So what did we find?  1 Frozen football, 1 Mickey Mouse ball, 1 other generic ball, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 rope wheel, 1 bike wheel, 1 set of trolley wheels, 1 dustbin lid, 1 net, 1 inflatable microphone, 1 giant iron bar, 2 car seats, 2 scooters, 3 buckets, 14 tyres, 30 bags of other junk along with barrows and barrows and barrows and barrows of floating pennywort. Seriously… there was a lot!

Pennywort Pile

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and John for supervising the Event Tent; Wally, Theo & Dave for helping supervise everyone on the day, Friends of Ravensbury Park for leading the floating pennywort team, ZipCar for waiving the van’s fee for the day and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Agnes, Alex, Alison, Andrew, Ann W, Barry, Ben, Camille, Charles, Charlotte, Chris S, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Dimal, Flora, Fred, Fumbi, Gina, Ian, Ida, Isabelle, Jan, Joe, Johamm, John L, John N, Keith, Khin H, Khin T, Laura H, Louise, Marta, Michael R, Michael S, Naomi, Niki, Paul, Renah, Richard, Richard B, Rose, Sabiha, Sally, Sanya, Sarah A, Sheree, Sophie C, Sophie O, Stewart, Sue, Theo, Tim, Victor, Victoria, Wally, Wayne and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   White uniforms will always become brown when handling floating pennywort.

Rubbish Pile

Dam, where’s all the water gone?

We’ve started work on the Trewint Street Fish Passage!

Fish passage on the River Wandle is impeded by over 30 in stream structures, the majority of which are weirs left from the milling era. These weirs and structures are a barrier to the movement of fish both up and downstream and also fragments and isolates habitats.

The Weir

Trewint Street is one of the significant barriers to fish passage, with two weirs either side of a large concrete island. With funding from the Environment Agency, Thames Water and Defra’s Catchment Partnership Action Fund (CPAF), we have started our project to install baffles and a fish pass to the right hand side weir, allowing the movement of fish once more!

The pass will also benefit European Eel populations which have declined by over 98% in the last 15 years, with barriers to movement being a contributory factor.

So what are we doing?

Low cost bafflesOn the right side channel, a series of baffles will be installed to the upper section of the concrete weir. These baffles are made from recycled plastic and fixed to the weirs in rows.  They slow the flow down on the weir, deepening the water and allow fish to swim up the weir through notches cut into the baffles (Image, Fishtek).


In the lower part of the right hand channel, three notched barrages will be created to reduce the drop in water level between the channel and baffles. This will allow fish to easily swim up through the notches and through the baffles to new habitats beyond (Image, EA).

What will you see?

You will see a lot of building work on site over the next month as our contractors (Amenity Water Management (AWM) get started. You’ll also notice that the right hand channel is a lot drier than normal…


Amenity Water Management have created a sandbag dam to keep the channel dry allowing them to work on installing the structures. All will return to normal once work is complete.

We’ll keep you posted with updates as always, but for now Tim is just happy to have wet feet again!

Tim happy once more

Wandle Cleanup: August 2015: Sutton

The one where we cooked in our waders…..

This August was the first of our Capital Cleanups, kindly funded by the Mayor of London Capital Cleanup fund, held in Beddington Park on a very, very sunny and hot day. Not ideal weather for waders or wellies.


Rose was kind enough to help me load the van for this event, and I was thankful to have her with me as I turned up to site to find a car boot sale blocking the road. Luckily we squeezed the van through and set up in our usual spot ready for everyone to arrive.

This month we divided into three teams: the wading team; their wader support and balsam bashers. Theo had found several patches of Himalayan balsam in the park which he was keen to get on top of.

Within 20 minutes of sending the waders off to the river, they returned with two trolleys – not what I was expecting from a seemingly clear stretch of the Wandle! We were wondering if Asda would be wanting these back…


Soon more and more rubbish was coming out: tyres, pitch fork, metal fencing, large pieces of wood. For a narrow stretch of the river, it didn’t disappoint.

Rubbish pile building..

Behind the wading team, Theo and a couple of others were checking for individual Himalayan plants on the river bank to ensure we swept the whole park clean.

Balsam Hunting

While this was going on, a brave team tackled a large infestation further into the park where the balsam was the height of trees and the stems were the thickest we’d ever seen them. A true balsam jungle amongst the nettles.

Balsam Bashers

Wheel Barrow RelaxationBy lunchtime we were all very hot and ready for a cool drink. Jackie had kindly made us some jam tarts and I had baked three chocolate cakes which I then packaged to look like they had in fact been purchased… it’s the small touches.

After lunch we reluctantly put our waders and wellies back on and got back in the river. The wading team had cleared the river before lunchtime so after lunch we all focused on the balsam.

With the bulk of it removed, we were looking for smaller plants in the undergrowth which we wanted to catch before they set seed for another year. It took a little while to get our eyes honed in, but sure enough there were plenty hiding in the nettle jungle.


With Beddington Park cleared of balsam (for this year anyway) and rubbish we decided to finish a bit early to cool off.

Thank you to all the volunteers who came along and tolerated the heat for our event!

Finished Pile

So what did we find?  1 pitch fork, 1 paint tub, 1 watercolour set, 1 scooter seat, 1 wooden chair, 1 hamster cage, 1 tyre, 2 buckets, 2 Asda trolleys, 3 set of tea china, 4 coconuts, 8 large pieces of wood, steel roofing, plenty of metal fencing, 25 bags of other junk and barrows and barrows of Himalayan balsam.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event and Rose for helping me load and unload; Jackie for catering for our volunteers; Rose for supervising the Event Tent; Chris, Wally, Theo & Dave for helping supervise everyone on the day and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Charles, Chris, Daniel, Dave, David, Denis, Derek, Fred, George, Gillian, Graham, Helen, Hugo, Ian, James, Jamie, Joe, John, Karoline, Keith, Ken, Lisa, Lois, Louise, Mark, Mike, Neil, Per, Phil, Richard, Rob, Ruth, Sally Ann, Theo, Tom K, Victor and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Sunshine and chest waders are not a great mix.

Barrow of Balsam

All photos kindly taken by Sally Ann Symis

The Battle of Watermeads

The Battle of Watermeads was fought between the Wandle Trust and two invasive plants which had been successfully invading the River Wandle for many years: Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort.


General Alan MartinHistorians have pinpointed the start of this epic, ongoing war of attrition against the Wandle’s invasive non-native species as far back as June 2010 or earlier, and our latest campaign has certainly started with the recruitment of General Alan Martin.

Alan joined the Wandle Trust movement in April 2015 to help coordinate a river wide action plan against plants and other invaders, and Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort have quickly become two of his most formidable opponents.

On Friday 31st July, two armies faced each other in Watermeads Nature Reserve. The Wandle Trust General, Alan Martin, had recruited 29 dedicated and loyal volunteers to his cause. Together they faced a terrifying scene and were horrendously outnumbered by the ranks of balsam and pennywort established throughout the reserve. But this did not deter them.

The strategy: Divide and Conquer

The battle started at 11am. General Alan divided his ranks into two regiments, each to face one of the enemies alone. General Alan took charge of the floating pennywort regiment and took to the high seas of the Watermeads back water. Captain Joe bravely guided the vessel behind enemy lines to cut free rafts of pennywort, while the rest of the regiment waited on shore to haul in the catch with grapples and rakes.

Captain Joe and his Crew

Raking and Grappling

Meanwhile on the western front, the Himalayan balsam regiment was beginning their attack. Alan had appointed Lieutenant Polly to lead the balsam front and with her ranks in tow they marched into the undergrowth. To begin with, they found small patches of the plant and made quick progress pulling these up and piling to compost. However as they ventured further into the reserve they came face to face with an overwhelmingly large forest. Numbers which far exceeded their own…

Two loyal soildiers

Balsam No Man's Land

As the battle raged on, General Alan’s faithful sidekick, Pepper, kept watch on the troops and raised morale.

At 4pm, both armies called a truce and re-grouped ready to fight another day. The Wandle Trust Army had come out on top with no casualties save for a few nettle stings. For the invasive plants, it was a tough defeat. Pennywort and balsam casualties were everywhere.

Pennywort Pile

Top Soildier

All that was left was for the Wandle Trust Army to clean up and make sure they weren’t spreading the enemy further by their equipment. The answer? Power hose. A prospect all too exciting for Pepper.


Join us for the Battle for Watermeads II on Friday 21st August, 11am. Campaign plans can be found here.

Your River Needs You!

This battle has been key to General Alan’s plan for the whole river – a campaign to eradicate invasive non-native species from the river to allow the return of native flora and fauna. A campaign which is part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

You can join General Alan’s crusade and sign up as a River Ranger to hunt down and monitor other invasive plants along the river.

This event was supported by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.

Your River Needs You!

River Rangers

Will you join our River Rangers Team and help hunt down invasive non-native species on the Wandle?

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to join our River Rangers team and help us monitor invasive species on the River Wandle from its source to the Thames.

Our team of trained recorders will survey the entire length of the Wandle three times a year, building up a picture of where the invasive species are and how well our management efforts are working in controlling them.

Training for the team will take place this August on the 19th or 20th – date and venue to be confirmed soon.

What will be covered?

  • What makes a biological record?
  • Invasive plant identification in all seasons
  • Invasive plant ecology and biology
  • Biosecurity
  • Uploading your data

What will be involved?

Following training, our River Rangers will be unleashed on the Wande three times a year to map invasive species through the different growing seasons. Data will be uploaded online to LISI – London Invasive Species Initiative.

The first River Ranger day will be Sunday 27th September 2015.

This project will form a valuable baseline monitoring system for our efforts in the eradication of these invasive species. Next year, a Hit Squad will be trained up in the management of INNS and will work alongside our River Rangers to manage and control the species they record.

Pennywort Banner

This project is supported by the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.


Landscape Logo pantone 2747

Wandle Cleanup: July 2015: Sutton

RydonsThe one where a tea related disaster almost struck… 

This July we were in Hackbridge cleaning the Carshalton arm of the river. Our event was kindly supported by Rydons who are developing nearby properties – many thanks to them!

Having arrived an hour early and feeling pretty smug about my efficient morning collecting the van, I discovered I’d brought an empty gas canister with me – disaster! As I began to panic, some kind volunteers who lived nearby offered to boil the kettle – but numbers grew and grew…

Finally Wally saved the day, buying a new full canister! And with that, we started the event.

Wading Team

We divided into two wading teams taking a side of Culvers Island each with team leaders being myself and Chris.

Rubbish Pile Building

Skiing on the JobWhat shocked us all was the amount of rubbish we found! Trolleys, TVs, wooden shelves, patio doors. It was quite shocking. The rubbish pile grew and grew. A personal highlight for me – one ski.

While waders waded, a team of 3 went hunting down Himalayan Balsam. The Wandle Trust have been balsam bashing in this area of a number of years and now only a few plants remain. But it was crucial these didn’t seed. Luckily I had some real experts on the hunt.

Lunch break came and with the kind help of Jackie and Ann, we all had teas and cake. Even I baked this time…

In the afternoon, the waders hopped in at Hackbridge and continued up Restmor Way finding more and more rubbish.


Eventually I called it a day and got everyone to hunt down tools and wheelbarrows which we had discarded on the way.


So what did we find?  1 ski, 1 doll hand (very creepy), 1 patio door,  1 rake head, 1 saucepan, 1 drawer, 1 desk, 1 broom handle, 1 trainer, 1 cat statue (thank you Aaron for the kind gift), 1 washing line, 1 bicycle wheel, 1 laptop screen, 1 sandal, 1 umbrella, 1 net, 2 trolleys, 2 cones, 2 TVs, 6 small bottles of vodka (empty), lots of cables, 100s of glass bottles, bags and bags of other junk and let’s not forget – all the Himalayan balsam!


Huge thanks to everyone who helped pack up van after the event, Jackie and Ann for catering for our volunteers, Jackie for supervising the Event Tent, Chris for helping supervise everyone on the day, Wally for saving the day with the gas, and the Waste Management Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abinas, Adam, Andrea, Ann, Anthony, Arangen, Barry, Bill, Chris, Dan, Daniel, Dave, David, Dennis, Derek, Devashanthan, Ed, Gary, Gemma, Geoff, Hanna, Jackie, Jan, Jay, Jez, Joe, John N, John S, Jon, Keith, Louise, Marion, Marta, Mike, Nick B, Nick H, Per, Phil, Rayhav, Rob, Rose, Saiprem, Sathyandran, Simon, Stewart, Sue, Vic and Wally.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Wally is my cleanup hero.

Misconnected Madness


We’ve got some good news for the River Wandle!

At the start of our Pollution Monitoring scheme with the Environment Agency an outfall in Morden Hall Park was identified to be a chronic source of pollution – a likely misconnection problem.

Working closely with our local Environment Agency team, our volunteers helped to monitor this outfall gathering evidence of when pollution was spotted with photographic evidence. This extra information enabled the Environment Agency and Thames Water to investigate 412 homes in the area and discover 17 misconnected properties with 40 appliances discharging directly into the River Wandle.

This is a huge success for our Pollution Patrol project so thank you to our dedicated volunteers. We hope to have many more similar success stories in the future!

Read the full press article here

Our Pollution Patrol is still running today with 50 volunteers trained on our three rivers – Wandle, Hogsmill and Beverley Brook. Our local Wandle Environment Agency Officer Kate for the Wandle has kindly put together an update on pollution in the last few months and what we need to start focusing on now!

Wandle Pollution Update

Why not join us?

We are always keen to have more volunteers join our scheme. If you think you might be interested in joining the Wandle team (or Hogsmill or Beverley Brook team), please get in touch with us at pollution@wandletrust.org

Check your house: Make sure your house is connected correctly with the Connect Right website.