Reg. Charity No. 1091000

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Hogsmill News

The Trust has been busy undertaking work on the Hogsmill River recently.

To see what has been happening please click here to read various blogs.

April 11, 2014   No Comments

Mycofiltration: using mushrooms to clean the river!

Mycofiltration is the pioneering technique of using fungi to filter out pollutants from water.  First developed in the USA by Paul Stamets, we are trialling it here along the River Wandle for the first time in the UK!  We have put several ‘mycofilters’ around surface water outfalls that drain into the river to capture pollutants such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, bacteria and excess nutrients and will be monitoring their effectiveness over the coming year.

A mycofilter is basically a hessian sack filled with wet straw and wood chip and mycelium (the non-fruiting part of fungi).  They look a bit like slightly mouldy sandbags, but don’t let that put you off!!  They are doing important work.

Getting to the point of being able to install mycofilters along carefully selected study sites by the Wandle took several stages…here’s what we did in a quick run-through:

Stage 1: preparing materials


40 kg of mushroom spawn was ordered from a specialist UK supplier and carefully weighed out to the correct portions needed per hessian sack.4 m


Several locally sourced straw bales were acquired from Bushells Farm in Carshalton.


Freshly chipped wood sourced from native deciduous trees cut by Sutton Council was collected from Central Nursery Wood Station in Croydon.

 Stage 2: building

Then the first of three workdays was held at Sutton Ecology Centre to make the mycofilters themselves.



All the materials needed: straw, wood chip, hessian sacks, mycelium spawn and a plentiful supply of fresh water were laid out as an attractive buffet (!) for volunteers to build.2 m



Volunteers worked in pairs – one to hold the bag open and the other to scoop in the materials.


The ingredients were layered like a special lasagne: first a good layer of wet straw…


Then a scoop or two of wood chip…


Then a generous sprinkling of mycelium was added and the layering process repeated, until the bags were tightly packed and full.


The finished sacks were put into rubble bags to protect them and volunteers took a bag or two each home with them to develop in their gardens over the next few weeks.


After five weeks typically, the mycelium had grown throughout the sacks and was visible on the outside as a white feathery network of filaments – they were ready to install!

Stage 3: installation

Three more workdays were held to invite the volunteers back with their sacks and to install them at the study sites by the river.


The first site tackled was Bennetts Hole Local Nature Reserve in Mitcham, where pollution was entering the site via pipes from a neighbouring Industrial Estate feed to a reedbed.


Despite a hailstorm during proceedings, no one’s ardour was dampened and three sets of installation were completed successfully.


Thanks to everyone who braved the inclement weather!


Despite the weather, there was no let up and installations were then carried out at the Mill Race in Grove Park


at Wandle Bank


Butter Hill


and Beddington Park!

The mycofilters will now be monitored regularly, with water and silt samples sent away for analysis.  Watch this space for further updates!

 If you notice the mycofilters have been disturbed or removed at any site, please let us know. 

 Thanks to everyone who has worked so hard to help Claire with this project; it has been great fun and you can feel proud of the fact that you are all conservation pioneers!

Photos by Claire Bedford, Mark McLellan, Bella Davies and Erica Evans.

April 2, 2014   No Comments

Wandle cleanup: March 2014: Merton and Sutton

The one with the Mega Clean Up Day

After weeks of rain and grey, soggy days, this month’s cleanup day was wonderfully fine and warm.

Joining forces with the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust, the Wandle Valley Forum, the Merton Conservation volunteers, Merton and Sutton Councils, LWT, Willow Lane Business Improvement District, TM United and the EA, we congregated at the edge of the rugby pitches in Poulter Park for a ‘Mega Clean Up Day’.


After an few words of introduction and a comprehensive Health and Safety briefing, 65 volunteers equipped themselves with gloves, litter pickers and bin bags and set off to collect as much rubbish as they could in 4 hours.

Groups of volunteers, each with a Team Leader, were dispersed to the KNK Stadium, Watermeads, Bennett’s Hole nature reserve, the Wandle Trail, into all the undergrowth and to the edges of the rugby pitches.

Again, Wandle Trust volunteers weren’t able to get into the river – but that didn’t stop them safely grappling 4 tyres out of the water to add to the rubbish pile.

There was an astonishing variety of rubbish in the undergrowth including two shopping trolleys and a fake leather sofa.

Mark managed to balance the shopping trolley on a wheelbarrow:

whilst Will and John decided the best way to transport the sofa was on their heads:

and as we were just about to break for lunch, they set it on the grass where it made a rather luxurious seat for Will, Jamie and Marcia.

As well as hot coffee and tea, there were refreshing jugs of squash along with a wonderful selection of cakes – carrot, ginger, chocolate, Dorset apple, blueberry and lemon, cupcakes and flapjacks.    Thanks to Abi, Ann, Jana, Jo and Sally for an excellent edible experience!

Harnessing this collective sugar rush, we went back to the task in hand, noticing that patches of Celandine were springing up along the pathway.

A small group of volunteers got to grips with some rubbish down near the KNK Stadium gates, and soon built an impressive pile of rubbish:

All too soon, it was 3pm and we had to pack up the van with all our kit, leaving behind another impressive pile of rubbish in Poulter Park:

Thanks to AJ and Gideon who loaded up and unloaded the van.

Thanks to Peter Hegarty for use of the facilities at the Mitcham Rugby Club.

Huge thanks to Tony of Merton Waste Management Team, who sent Stan on the day, and to David of Sutton Waste Management Team for organising collection of all the rubbish.

Thanks to all our volunteers:  AJ, Abi, Alan G, Alan W, Andy B, Andy W, Angela G, Angela N, Ann, Barry, Bella, Bill, Bruce, Charles, Davinia, Denis, Dominic, Eliot, Erica, Gareth, Gearóid, Gideon, Ian, Jamie, Jan, Jo, Joe, John B, John L, John N,  Kate, Keith, Laurent, Lisa, Lyn, Marcia, Mark Mc, Mark P, Melanie, Michael, Mike, Nigel, Oscar, Patricia, Per, Peter C, Peter W, Phoebe, Rebecca, Rob, Roger, Rose, Sally, Sophie, Stephen, Sue B, Sue M, Suzanne, Theo, Tim H, Tim L, Tina, Toby, Wally and Will.

Who collected:

Poulter Park:

½ a coconut, ½ a jar of peanut butter, ½ a mattress, 1 section of metal fence, 1 sofa cushion, 1 pair of socks, 1 adjustable legs of office chair, 1 pallett, 1 fire extinguisher, 1 iron, 1 air conditioning unit, 1 compost bin, 1 scaffolding pole, 1 car bumper, 1 chainlink fence, 1 plastic sledge, 1 estate agent’s sign, 1 motorbike bumper, 1 parcel shelf, 1 plastic Christmas tree, 1 duvet, 1 mop, 1 plastic barrier, 1 fake leather sofa, 1 arrow, 1 road cone, 1 golf umbrella, 1 motorcycle frame, 2 gas canisters, 2 shopping trolleys, 2 plastic pipes, 3 fridge freezers, 4 tyres and 74 bin bags of rubbish.

KNK Stadium:

1 shopping trolley frame, 1 car wheel, 1 piece of plywood, 2 mattresses and at least 20 bags of rubbish

March 19, 2014   No Comments

Pollution alert: Storm flows from Caterham Bourne through Beddington sewage treatment works

Following our recent report that record rainfall this winter has resulted in the reappearance of the Caterham Bourne, we’ve just received this information from the Environment Agency:

Because of the high ground water from the Caterham Bourne, ground water is being pumped into the foul sewer to relieve flooding issues in the Kenley and Purley area.  This is also to protect Sutton and East Surrey’s potable water treatment works at Kenley.

Because of this there has been an increase in water flowing into Beddington Sewage Treatment Works and the Works are running under storm conditions. This means that the water coming from the works is a mixture of final treated sewage and storm water.
This has been going on for a few days now and could last for a while. However, several partner organisations including the EA, Thames Water, local Councils, the Police and Fire Brigade are working to manage the situation as immediately and effectively as possible.

Needless to say, we are taking this situation very seriously, and will post updates here as we receive them.

Update 1 (2.30pm, Monday 24th Feb): the EA have informed us that “free ammonia” NH3 levels are currently very low in the lower river, and no environmental damage has been detected so far.  However, sludge which has been scoured from Beddington’s storm tanks may be getting into the river, and may look like shredded toilet paper or similar.

Update 2 (12pm, Tuesday 25th Feb): There is sewage debris, sludge and fungus being seen all along the river downstream of the effluent channel to at least Penwith Road.  Water is not being pumped to the foul sewer now but the amount of water entering the sewage treatment works is still high and is therefore still operating  under storm conditions.   Dissolved oxygen levels are low but not thought to be a cause for concern yet.

If you’re out on the river and notice offensive smells, unusual quantities of sanitary products, or fish or other wildlife in distress below Beddington STW, please phone them in to the usual EA hotline: 0800 80 70 60. Thank you!

February 22, 2014   No Comments

Wandle cleanup: February 2014: Wandsworth

The one with the urban ‘trashmob’ 

February’s cleanup day dawned fine, although there was a keen wind, and the weather pretty much stayed that way for most of the day.  Even though they’d received the news that they would not be able to get into the river because of high water levels, 34 volunteers turned up at Trewint Street to help clear the banks and Trail of litter.


Straightaway, eagle-eyed volunteers spotted the brake handle of what looked like a motorbike in the river.  It had tantalisingly broken the surface of the water just by the metal gates, and, unable to resist a challenge, some of the guys managed to get our ropes tied round the handlebars from the bank and, a couple of heaves later, a newish motor scooter was out and ready to be pushed to the dumpsite.


Having spotted that the tax disc was still in date and the number plate intact, another call to the non-emergency 101 number was made, and two police officers turned up to investigate.  They called the owner, who confirmed that he had reported it stolen and that, as he lived locally, he would pop along later to take a look at his former mode of transport.

Meanwhile other volunteers proceeded to remove another fly-tipped load of rubbish from the brambles:


and to collect dozens of empty beer cans discarded along the cut through to Weir Road from the Trail.  Carol discovered that if she pulled her wheelbarrow along behind her the wheel squeaked less than when she pushed it!


Deep in the undergrowth the long handled litter pickers came in very handy as volunteers could easily get at rubbish tangled in its thorny tendrils.


We stopped for a welcome break at about 1pm and enjoyed cheese scones and chocolate marble cake brought by Ann and Jana.  Sally dispensed cups of hot tea and coffee which helped warm us up from the inside out.

After lunch, we walked towards Plough Lane picking up rubbish on both sides of the soon-to-be widened Trail.


Time flew by and as we wheeled our barrows full of rubbish back to the dumpsite for one last time, we came across Eliot and Leonie, amongst others, who had found a lorry wheel embedded in the grass verge and had, at that stage, managed to dig half of it out.   Very soon afterwards, they had dragged it free of its earthy resting place and Roger rolled it expertly along the concrete to stack it along with others.

Thanks to Terry who turned up in a cage lorry nice and early so that we could begin to load up the rubbish collected thus far, and to Joanna and Michael at Wandsworth’s waste management department who organised the collection.

Everyone helped load up the lorry and we were amazed to discover that we filled it to the top.  Wally diligently swept the pavement where the rubbish had been stacked, leaving it nice and tidy.

Huge thanks to Gideon and AJ to helped load up the van and to Gideon who helped unload it.

Thanks to our volunteers:  AJ, Ann, Armand, Bill, Brian, Carol, Charles L, Charles W-S, Chris, Eliott, Erica, Gazi, Gideon, Howard, Hugh, Jamie, Jana, John B, John N, Leonie, Michael, Mike, Patrick, Per, Rob, Roger, Rose, Russell, Sally Ann, Sally, Sue, Tadge, Tim, Tory, Will, Wally and Wayne

Who removed:  1 lorry wheel, 1 bike lock, 1 motor scooter, 1 chair, 1 radiator, 1 dustbin, 1 plastic bucket, 1 washing up bowl, 1 football, 1 bicycle wheel, 1 vacuum cleaner hose, 1 electric fire, 1 gas cylinder, 1 child’s bicycle, 1 kitchen sink, 1 oil drum, 1 eel net, 1 road cone, 1 cooker hob, 1 skateboard, 1 child’s scooter, 1 boiler cover, 1 mattress, 2 squash rackets, 2 water carriers, 2 DVDs, 4 carpets, 4 car tyres and at least 60 bin bags full of assorted types of rubbish.


All photos: Sally Ann Symis

February 19, 2014   No Comments

In Memoriam: Robin Reeves

Pictured here on the left.

Pictured here on the left.

May 1952 to 27th January 2014.

It was with great shock and sadness that we learned of the death of Robin Reeves, one of the Wandle Trust’s core volunteers.

Robin lived all of his life in the same house in Southfields. He attended the local Elliot School and ended up teaching there during his 35 year career. He also taught at Malory in Lewisham and Southfields Community College where he was Head of House, Head of Year, Fixed Head of Year 7, French teacher, Head of Year 9 Inclusion Group and Head of Inclusion. Robin spoke 4 languages.

Robin felt particularly rewarded by supporting pupils who were in danger of dropping out of mainstream education. Many former pupils have acknowledged his positive guidance and influence.

Southfields College backs onto King George’s Park, which is adjacent to the Wandle, and Robin came to the river with GCSE groups doing their river study for Geography.

Robin had many interests. He was active in the development of AFC Wimbledon Don’s Trust, he was a member of Southfields Tennis Club and played for a table tennis team at St Paul’s Church. His other sporting interests were walking, cycling, running, badminton, golf, karate and yoga. Robin could do a freestanding handstand and recently he had been attempting to perfect walking on his hands.

Since retiring in July 2011, Robin had become increasingly involved with the Wandle Trust.

Robin came to the December community river cleanup at Garfield Road in Merton. He had an allotment next to the river here, and from his plot, which was opposite the viewing platform where the river Graveney joins the Wandle, he was able to indulge in another of his loves, watching birds, as well as growing vegetables.

During the cleanup there was lots of good humoured banter about AFC Wimbledon as he was able to lighten up any situation with his gentle, friendly humour. Everyone seemed to like him. Someone suggested that there were no Wimbledon football fans left now as they had all switched to following Chelsea FC. A twinkle appeared in Robin’s eye, an expression for which he was so well known, and he responded with “Wimbledon AFC has lots of fans, but yes there are a lot of glory seekers around too!” Once after getting filthy and wet in the water and pulling all sorts of detritus out of the river, including a fridge and half a shop mannequin, he said with a grin, “that’s the most fun I’ve had in ages!”

Robin 2 

Recently, Robin had also been extensively involved with helping to develop the Trust’s educational strategy, and was supporting Trout in the Classroom. This year he was working with Francis Barber and Thomas’s schools.

Our thoughts and condolences are with his wife Sue, daughter Anna, and son Tom. In addition, Robin was a doting and active grandfather to 4 year old Luke.

Robin’s funeral will take place at Putney Vale Cemetery at 2.40pm on Tuesday 11th February 2014.

He will be much missed.

February 7, 2014   No Comments

Interested in getting involved in some river restoration on the Hogsmill?

The South East Rivers Trust and Kingston University are undertaking extensive habitat improvement works on the Hogsmill River in Kingston. The plans are BIG so we need lots of people to get involved.

To find out more, please click here.

February 7, 2014   No Comments

Wandle cleanup: January 2014: Merton

The one with the Crime Scene Investigation

On a bright, astonishingly rain-free morning, 37 volunteers gathered at a rather muddy Wandle Meadow to tackle the next 50m upstream of where we had cleaned up just before Christmas.

Following weeks of inclement weather, there had been some doubt as to whether our volunteers would be able to get into the river at all as the water level was up and the current stronger.

However, whilst we were unloading the van, Gideon and Theo, already in waders, decided to recce the site and wade the river again, and, on their return to the gazebo, deemed it safe for volunteers to get in, although we reiterated the risks during our regular health and safety briefing, telling them to take extra care.

Fairly early on, whilst picking up litter in the undergrowth, Phil found what he thought looked like a sawn-off shotgun wrapped in two plastic bags.

Having cordoned off the area with black and yellow tape, we made a call via the new non-emergency 101 number to the Metropolitan police, and within twenty minutes, 2 police officers arrived.  On closer inspection they decided that they would call the firearms and ballistics department and then remained with the evidence to await their colleague.


The ballistics officer was well-prepared, dressed in a coverall and Wellington boots and brought all the equipment she needed to transport the firearm offsite safely.  Apparently, when she opened the plastic bags, there was a handgun alongside the shotgun which is why all three officers remained on the bank until nearly 3pm!

Not long afterwards, Phil found a Webley & Scott flare pistol which Mike pointed out was brass and may have dated from WW1!

P1000882 (1)

So much excitement certainly gave us an appetite and very soon we stopped for delicious carrot cake and banana bread baked by Jana and Jane, served up with cups of steaming hot coffee and tea by Sally.

Back to work after our break, more usual items were retrieved from the river and the pile began to build on the North Road bridge.

Various passers-by stopped and looked in disbelief at the collection of rubbish, asking whether it had all come out of the water which, we confirmed, it had.

Mark posed with two very diverse cultural icons he’d found – Ganesha and Hello Kitty!

Thanks to Stan who turned up with a cage lorry nice and promptly at 2pm as the skies had started to darken and the temperature to drop, and to Tony at Merton’s waste management division who organised the collection.

Huge thanks to Gideon and AJ who helped load up and unload the van.

Thanks to our volunteers:  AJ, Annic, Brian, Carol, Charles, Chris, Eliott, Francesca, Gearoid, Gideon, James, Jamie, Jana, Jane, Jill, John, Kelly, Ken, Leo, Leonie, Lizzie, Lucy, Mark, Nick, Patrick B, Patrick H, Phil, Rachel, Rob, Rose, Sally, Theo, Tim, Will, Wally… and not forgetting  Josie the spaniel!

Who removed:  1 sawn off shotgun, 1 handgun, 1 flare pistol, 1 coconut (always!), 1 horseshoe, 1 statue of Buddha, 1 signpost, 1 toy car, 1 shower tray , 1 mattress, 1 child’s buggy , 1 bicycle wheel, 1 garden gate, 1 car battery, 1 road light, 2 shopping trolleys, 2 road cones,  2 wire rolls, 3 carpets, 3 window boxes, 2 bicycle tyres, 6 car tyres and at least 40 bin bags of assorted litter.



Additional photographs: Ken Stephens 

January 21, 2014   No Comments

Flood alert for the Caterham Bourne (as historic Wandle springs reappear in Carshalton!)

Our partners at the Environment Agency have contacted us again to ask for help in spreading the word that the Wandle’s rarely-seen headwaters at Caterham may be about to start flowing again.

Because so much water is usually pumped out of the Wandle’s chalk aquifer for drinking water and other purposes, the river’s historic springs and headwaters are often dry (and the upper river is sometimes only kept flowing by a unique system that takes water out of the river at Goat Bridge and recirculates it back upstream to Carshalton Ponds!)

However, following several weeks of rain, many local residents in the Carshalton area have recently noticed spring water flowing from the Grotto and Hogpit in Carshalton Park, as well as the springs in St Philomena’s lake.

And even the Caterham Bourne, which as a true winterbourne only flows out of the chalk downs above Croydon during exceptionally wet years, may be on the point of reappearing.

From the Environment Agency’s flood alert service:

Groundwater levels have risen rapidly in the upper Wandle catchment in response to recent sustained and intense rainfall. As a consequence groundwater levels, as measured at the Environment Agency’s monitoring boreholes, indicate the potential for sustained flow within the Caterham Bourne. The rapid rate of groundwater level recovery within the Chalk aquifer allows us to conclude with a high level of confidence that initially low lying roads and properties will be susceptible to flooding.

The Caterham Bourne joins the Wandle at Croydon, so we may also see slightly elevated water levels on the Croydon arm of the Wandle through Beddington Park to Hackbridge.

If you live in Caterham, Whyteleafe, Kenley, Purley, South Croydon or along the upper Wandle, please take care and feel free to keep us updated by adding messages or pictures below this post.

January 10, 2014   No Comments

Keep vigilant on the Wandle over the next few days…

The Environment Agency have been in touch to say that, with the inclement weather, they are contacting their partners to ask us all to keep vigilant for any incidents (e.g. pollution or blocked culverts) and flooding, and to keep an eye out for our neighbours.  River levels may rise quickly so do take care.

Further information on flooding and flood alerts can be found here. Please report any incidents via the freephone number 0800 80 70 60 and any specific flood related issues via the EA’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188.

December 23, 2013   No Comments