Last night, David Gill (our Education Officer) and Jez Mallinson (our Education Volunteer) were talking all about the Wandle and our work on Croydon Radio.
Missed it? Never fear, you can listen to the whole session below.
Last night, David Gill (our Education Officer) and Jez Mallinson (our Education Volunteer) were talking all about the Wandle and our work on Croydon Radio.
Missed it? Never fear, you can listen to the whole session below.
We are pleased to welcome Alice Dawes and Verity Thomson to our educational programme Project Kingfisher. Alice and Verity will be working as freelance teachers supporting David Gill, the Education Officer, delivering various aspects of the project to schools throughout the Wandle catchment.
David, Verity and Alice take a break from an educational workshop
(and even saw a kingfisher on the Wandle!)
During the last academic year, David delivered presentations to 23 schools across the Boroughs of Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth. This year, with Alice and Verity in support, we hope to work with many more schools. Alice is very excited about her new role. She writes:
‘It’s vital to get children learning outdoors and engaging with their local area. The River Wandle creates a vast range of different teaching and learning opportunities’.
Alice and Verity will provide whole school assemblies and class presentations to children of all ages and abilities. They will use puppets, an interpretation board and build a mock river to provide a platform where the students can fully engage with their understanding of the river and its wildlife and how people have used it in the past to the present day. The presentations conclude with the children and young people understanding that we all have a role in looking after our local river.
Project Kingfisher also offers the opportunities for schools to look after creatures from the river – we bring the Wandle into the classroom. They can look after plants (grown in a tyre pond), freshwater shrimps, tadpoles or sticklebacks (in fish tanks).
The children will use the creatures to understand much more about living and non-living things, habitats, life cycles, food chains and food webs and adaptations – and all linked to the requirements of the National Curriculum (that the teachers like!)
‘I first heard about Project Kingfisher from my daughter who had some ‘strange creatures in the classroom’. There’s only so much you can wheedle out of a five-year-old, but I found out much more when I joined the children and walked down to Butter Hill to release the freshwater shrimps back in to the River Wandle’.
Verity goes on:
‘The whole project was such a wonderful experience for the kids, and they really enjoyed the release event on the river. Each child took a turn to fish a shrimp out of the bucket with their net and set it free into the Wandle’.
What better way can you get the message across that their local river must be valued? It tells the children that the river is the home to so many creatures and we need to help look after it now and in the future.
‘We will be taking the classroom to the Wandle too – we want to engage children in a whole range of different activities and learning opportunities and let them see the river for themselves.’
We play lots of river-related games – one called Crocodile River (!), another called Duck Pond – all designed to be fun but have some important learning outcomes associated with them. The children will make decisions, learn to work as a team, follow written instructions and can create a map of their surroundings. Find out more about Window on the Wandle here.
Children constructing an animal home next to the ‘river’
David sees Alice and Verity bringing much more to Project Kingfisher. He writes:
‘Up until this time the Project has been all about my teaching and learning ideas. I am really looking forward to seeing what Alice and Verity bring to the party. They are both experienced teachers so I am confident they will only enhance and build upon what we have done so far. These are very exciting times!’
Verity sums up her new role: ‘We want to get more schools out of the classroom and down to the river, where they might just spot a kingfisher or a brown trout as we ourselves did last week…’
Now that’s the WOW factor we need! Why? Because it stays with you for life…
The one with the long, long walk
Ravensbury Park is a lovely green space on the River Wandle, but hard work for a cleanup site! With limited vehicle access, we have to wheel barrow the rubbish all the way through the park to the road which, at the farthest point, is half a mile each way! Nevertheless, we were determined to tackle the park, and so we did.
On a sunny November morning, 48 volunteers gathered in Ravensbury Park for our latest Wandle cleanup, and at 11am we held the two minute silence to mark Remembrance Sunday.
Before we got started, we asked everyone to vote for our Aviva Community Project, to fund cleanups in 2017. Our Wandle cleanups are incredibly popular, and now we need extra support to keep up with the demand! If we are successful with this fund, we will be able to buy much needed equipment, including chest waders, gloves and wheelbarrows, as well as recruit and train volunteer Event Supervisors to help organise and run the events in 2017. You can still vote and help secure us funding for 2017 – just click the link below – and vote before November 18th.
With plenty of volunteers from Friends of Ravensbury Park, Richmond International University and our usual keen supporters, we divided into 4 groups: wading, bank support, litter picking and tree maintenance (led by the Friends of the park).
Our waders headed into the park and starting hunting down rubbish. Surprisingly there wasn’t much in the main channel. Could this be evidence that we are making progress at this site?
As the waders got closer to the bridge at the far end of the park, we quickly found a concentrated amount of rubbish, including a trolley!
At lunchtime we were lucky enough to have the students from the Richmond International University bake for us – cupcakes and cookies, as well as a tray bake from Ann. Spoiled for choice! What amused us all were the unique cake boxes the students used, in the absence of Tupperware…
With the main channel completed, we headed to the far end of the park to tackle the back channel after lunch. This hadn’t been tackled for a while, and though it was easy wading, there were a lot of overgrown trees in the way, and blockages in the channel itself.
Progress was slow as the waders worked their way through the undergrowth, filling trugs and sending them up to our bank team who embarked on the voyage back the rubbish pile, a mere half a mile away.
We even found a rescue boat, but it wasn’t large enough to help the volunteers.
By 3 o’clock, we hadn’t quite completed the back channel, but we had made good progress and so we started to pack up the van.
So what did we find? ½ a garden pond, 1 bicycle wheel, 1 bicycle, 1 child scooter, 1 ironing board, 1 road sign, 1 push chair, 1 toy electric boat, 1 puppy teddy, 1 PC keyboard, 1 wicker baskets, 2 mobile phones, 2 shopping trolleys, 2 tyres, 2 licence plates, 3 coconuts, 6 metal poles, lots of wood and bags and bags of other junk.
Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally & Helen for helping supervise the cleanup, Ann and the students for baking, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Andy B, Andy T, Ann, Bethel, Charles, Charlotte, Chris, Dave, Derek, Dyu-Sayaor, Ed, Gemma, Guy, Hailey, Hamai, Hannah, Ian, Isabella, James, Jamie, Jane Plant, Jane Porter, Joanne, Joe, Kayla, Kirk, Leah, Lesley, Lillian, Luisa, Lyn, Michael A, Michael S, Nick, Paniz, Per, Phil, Rose, Sara, Steve B, Steve M, Stewart, Theo, Tom, Wally and Wayne.
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That our cleanup efforts are making a difference!
The Wandle Trust is embarking on an exciting new project to research and understand the source of the river and how it has moved over time.
The River Wandle, Beddington Park in early spring
What is the source of the Wandle?
The source of the River Wandle is found where two rocks – chalk and clay – meet. This occurs in our local area along an east to west to line starting in Croydon, going through Wallington and Carshalton to Esher.
A simplified geological map of North East Surrey
Chalk makes up the North Downs, shown in light blue on our simplified map. Chalk has the capacity to allow water to flow through it so when rain falls it soaks into the rock as if it’s a sponge. As a result the water builds up within the chalk to create huge underground reservoirs called aquifers.
Overlaying the chalk is clay – shown in dark blue on our simplified map. Unlike chalk, clay does not allow water to flow through it. As a result rainfall flows across the surface of the clay rather than flowing down in to it.
Our east-west line marks where the chalk and the clay meet. Along this line any water held in the chalk aquifer is forced to come to the surface, creating the spring sources we know and love on the Wandle.
How does the source of a river move?
The sources of the River Wandle has changed its position over time.
One theory suggests that the River Wandle once started near the village of Merstham in Surrey (south of the M25!) but was ‘captured’ by the River Mole. This is going back to the time when the climate was a lot colder than it is today – back in the Ice Age when mammoths were strolling around your back garden.
We do know from the shape of the North Downs – (the hills that now separate Merstham from Carshalton and Croydon) – that they have been shaped by water action. Look at the ‘dry valleys’ around Woodmansterne, Coulsdon and Caterham.
Happy Valley near Farthing Downs, Coulsdon showing a typical ‘dry valley’ on the North Downs
Back in the Ice Age the climate was very different to what we have today…
Imagine where we live today looking more like the Alaskan tundra – sub-zero temperatures, freezing cold arctic winds and most importantly frozen ground. The chalk, which today allows water to flow through it, was then permanently frozen (called permafrost). When snow and ice melted in the summer, the rocks and soil could not allow the water to flow down through them. The water flowed across the land surface instead, and eroded the ‘dry valleys’ we can still see today.
But the story doesn’t end there – because we’re all still having an effect on the position of the Wandle’s spring line.
People use water. Where does our water come from? From those underground aquifers of water caught inside the chalk.
As there are now more and more people using more and more water, it is being taken out of those underground reserves. What happens next? Instead of water bubbling out all along our west-east line in many places the springs have simply dried up as water is ‘over abstracted’ from the underground aquifer.
People have also built houses, roads and factories. As a result our east-west line has disappeared under concrete – the river is now flowing underground under all this stuff.
Go to Wandle Park in Croydon and you can see efforts to bring the River Wandle back to the surface where it was previously culverted under the park.
An Autumn Scene – The River Wandle in Wandle Park, Croydon
So we know that the source of the River Wandle has changed over time, and is still continuing to change – some of these changes are natural (ice age, permafrost, mammoths) whilst others are not (abstraction and concrete).
Will it change in the future? Who knows? Very likely, some would say – our population of people is likely to increase, so we’re going to need more houses and roads and need more water. We think too that the climate is changing – what impact will this bring to the source of our local river?
Who remembers the floods in Purley back in 2014? Is this a sign of the future?
Discovering the Source of the Wandle – The Project
The Wandle Trust will work with local volunteers to research the source of the River Wandle and how it has changed over time – this will include using archived material, geological maps, photographic evidence and oral histories. The project will use resources in libraries and other local sources.
How can you help?
Contact Project Officer David Gill to show your interest. Let him know your particular areas of interest and any areas of relevant skills and knowledge you might possess.
David can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call his mobile on 07468 529 312.
Do keep looking for updates on our Wandle website (www.wandletrust.org) and Twitter: #DiscovertheSource
The project is funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme aims to bring people closer to their local river.
Our famous Wandle cleanups are incredibly popular, and now we need extra support to keep up with the demand! If we are successful with this fund, we will be able to buy much needed equipment, including chest waders, gloves and wheelbarrows, as well as recruit and train volunteer Event Supervisors to help organise and run the events.
Our cleanups make a big difference to the river. In 2015 alone we removed 33 tonnes of rubbish, clearing 6.6 km of the Wandle. Without this additional support and equipment, our cleanups won’t be funded for 2017, and running these popular events at our usual level will be much more difficult. The river cleanups will be open to all and, over the year, we expect to engage over 420 volunteers giving 1600 hours to clear 30 tonnes of rubbish from 1.2 km of the Wandle.
None of this can be achieved without the support of our wonderful local volunteers and the Aviva Community Fund. So please vote for our project and help us and the whole Wandle community make a positive difference for south London’s very own urban chalkstream in 2017!
We’d really appreciate it if you could place your 10 votes for the Wandle Cleanups, it will only take you 2 minutes.
Voting closes on the 18th November 2016 – so don’t miss your chance!
Why not share this link with your friends, family and colleagues? The more votes we get, the more likely we are to receive the funding!
Thank you from everyone at the Wandle Trust!
The one where the rubbish didn’t stop coming
For our October cleanup we ventured to a new site for myself, but one that had been done in the past when Erica ran the cleanups – Waterside Way.
Waterside Way is the half way point between Plough Lane and Merton High Street, meaning we could clean further down the Plough Lane stretch than we had reached before. The fact that we hadn’t been there for a number of years was very obvious once we got started…
The wading team walked 100 m downstream and got into the river. Instantly, large items were found and piled up on the side – the bank support team didn’t stand a chance!
Shopping baskets, bed springs, carpets, car seats, car bumpers – all within a stretch less than 10 m long.
The rubbish came out so fast that we ended up asking some waders to hope out and help shift the rubbish from the bank to the rubbish pile back on Waterside Way.
Perhaps the “Find of the Day” was our creepy baby manikin – just in time for Halloween…
By lunchtime, everyone was exhausted and so we headed back to base for some tea and carrot cake (kindly baked for us by Ann). Even creepy baby joined us for some tea.
After lunch, we got back to it. With so much rubbish coming out, we were glad for the extra help from students from Richmond International University University – helping us ferry the rubbish back to base.
Throughout the cleanup, carpets were the most prominent find with over 20 found in our short 50 m stretch. These took a lot of man power to get out as they had become part of the river bed, trapping silt and allsorts.
At the end of the day, everyone got out on the banks and helped to carry the surplus of rubbish back to the pile. And what a pile it was!
So what did we find? 1 flymo, 1 bed spring, 1 hanging basket, 1 creepy baby manikin, 1 shoe, 1 clothes horse, 1 lino sample book, 1 car bumper, 1 keyboard, 1 mop, 1 dustbin, 1 cooker hob, 1 TV, 1 tyre, 1 bicycle frame and tyre, 1 giant pipe, 2 hose pipes, 2 car seats, 2 shopping baskets, 2 microwaves, 2 toasters, 4 stereos, 3 traffic cones, 3 umbrellas, 15 spray glue cans, 20+ carpets and piles and piles of wood planks and other rubbish.
We also saw an eel and a frog!
Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Dave and Louise for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Alison, Amelia, Andy, Ann, Charles, Cheyenne, Chris, Claire, Danny, Dave, David, Davis, Ed, Gary, Guy, Jane, Jason, Julia, Kaitlynn, Kamillah, Keith, Kristina, Louise, Marley, Nick, Niyin, Phil, Richard, Rob, Shivani, Steve, Stewart, Sue, Thima, Wally, Wayne, Will and William.
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That our cleanup effort was just the start, we will need to come back to Waterside Way!
As part of our new education programme, Project Kingfisher, we are looking to recruit two freelance teachers on the River Wandle.
Project Kingfisher is designed to raise awareness about the River Wandle by engaging children and young people with the river and incorporating it into their lessons. It has been funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership.
Last year Project Kingfisher engaged nearly 4000 students, visiting 23 schools in the Wandle catchment. We hope to exceed this in the next academic year and the freelance teachers will play a large role in this, enabling delivery of the project to more schools. More information on Project Kingfisher can be found on our website: www.wandletrust.org/education
To find out more about the available positions, download our Role Description below.
Details on how to apply can be found on the role description. The application deadline is Monday 24th October at noon, with interviews likely to take place the week commencing 31st October.
If you have any questions about the role or application process, please call our Education Officer on 07468 529 312 or email email@example.com
The one with a record number of people
On a sunny, September morning 85 volunteers gathered at Wandle Meadow Nature Park on North Road in Merton for another Wandle cleanup.
Yes, you read that right – 85!!!
Why so many? Well our numbers were larger than normal we were joined by 25 fresh recruits from the Richmond International University. We were also lucky enough to have our ZipCar team again from last year, no floating pennywort for them to tackle this time though.
After the safety talk, 85 of us got to work. We had a large wading team which headed right to the end of the park as with so many people we were sure we could cover the distance.
Once again, large amounts of rubbish started coming out but with plenty of hands on the bank we made light work of it.
One logistical challenge was a large piece of metal which would not fit in a wheelbarrow. So a chain of 8 people took turns carrying it over the bridge to the rubbish pile, with all the other wheelbarrows of junk too.
As we worked up the river, there was no shortage of rubbish. We found Iggle Piggle, lawnmowers, coffee tables and tyres.
Given we had only been at the site in March, there was a lot of rubbish to find! By lunch time we were exhausted so it was time to stop for cake and tea. A big thank you to Rebecca Watts (Programme Manager for the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership) for nipping to buy emergency cake rations – I had not catered for the feeding of the 5000…
After lunch, we had to change our plan of heading further upstream due to the discovery of an aggressive wasp nest. So instead we headed back and gave the river a second sweep to double check we got everything. Which being the Wandle, of course we hadn’t!
And sure enough, there was more to find. After covering the stretch twice we called it a day and started to pack up the van.
So what did we find? 1 shoe, 1 oar, 1 dinghy, 1 BB gun, 1 mini skateboard, 1 full size skateboard, 1 strimmer, 1 lawnmower, 1 motorbike chassis, 1 bike, 3 traffic cones, 3 disposable BBQs, 5 tyres, 7 items of clothing, loads of planks of wood, a pair of Rayburn sunglasses (and lots of the usual unidentifiable mixed rubbish!)
Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Alex B, Alex S, Andrew, Andy, Anya, Ben C, Ben C, Ben W, Berengere, Carol , Caroline, Charles, Chloe Chris E, Christine, Claire, Conor, Dave J, David C, David H, Derek, Diana, Dimal, Emma, Fumbi, Gearoid, ,Gemma, Guy, Ida, Jackie, Jay, Joanna, John, Kaia, Kaitlynn, Kamillah, Katelyn, Kaylee, Kevin, Kristina, Kyra, Leah, Louise, Madison, Mark, Mel, Merel, Michelle, Mike, Miriah, Nick, Nicki, Nina, Patrick, Peggy, Per, Reagor, Renah, Rob, Rory, Rosie, Sabina, Sally, Samantha, Samira, Shannon, Shela, Shelby, Si, Sophie, Steve B, Steve M, Stewart, Theo, Tom C, Tom K, Tony, Tyler, Wally and Wayne. Phew!
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That you never know how many people will fancy joining a Wandle cleanup on the day. So prepare for 80….
The one with the new recruits
Hard to believe a month has passed since we were in Plough Lane but it was indeed cleanup time again on the Wandle last weekend.
For August, 49 of us gathered in King George’s Park in Wandsworth, ready for some cleanup action. We had a number of new faces with us this month including some passers-by who found us in Plough Lane back in July, a local rugby team and a team from EquiLend.
After the usual Health & Safety Briefing we got started. The first task for us was to make a path to the river. As we normally visit King George’s Park in the winter, we were suddenly faced with a forest of nettles and brambles. Using a spade and loppers, Phil and Guy created the first path down to the river and our wading team set off.
While this was happening, I sent a second team to create similar paths through the nettles at the other two gates, ready to wheelbarrow the rubbish. It was not an easy task!
With the waders in the water, it didn’t take long for the rubbish to start coming out. Behind the willow trees, large amounts of debris had collected such as drinks cans and bottles.
We also found perhaps the creepiest doll I’ve ever seen amongst the debris…
Our bank support team and litterpickers stumbled upon a large stand or two of Himalayan balsam. As balsam seeds can be transported downstream by the river, it is best to tackle this plant from the source of the river first, which we’re doing at Richmond Green, Beddington Park, Hackbridge and Culvers Island. However, when spotted it is always worth preventing it from setting seed so that when we do make it down to Wandsworth, we have less to tackle. So a small team of volunteers pulled the plants up, using bin bags to catch the seeds.
Jane made sure every last plant was found by checking from the river itself.
By lunchtime the rubbish pile was huge and so I decided to have our break a little earlier, not that anyone would get out of the river!
Finally, 49 people gathered at the tent to have tea, coffee and homemade cake kindly made by Sally and Ann. We all had a rest and basked in the sunshine which had come out in full force since the morning.
It wasn’t long until everyone wanted to get back to work, most likely seeking the shade of the river! So we went off again…
The afternoon saw two main wading teams competing for the best Wandle find. A rugby team stuck together finding bicycle tyres, a trike, typewriter and 2 bed spring bases.
Whereas the rest of the waders were slightly further upstream tackling a giant lorry tyre!
By the time is came around to three o’clock I could get neither team out of the river!
The rubbish pile at the end of the day was an impressive pile for just 300m of river..
So what did we find? 1 lorry tyre, 1 coconut, 1 plastic banana, 1 jewellery box, 1 creepy doll, 1 trike frame, 1 paddling pool, 1 engine block, 1 typewriter, 1 pair of waders, 2 car tyres, 2 wooden pallets, 2 bed spring bases, 2 baby rattles, 4 baby dummies, 5 bikes, 6 footballs, 7 bits of random piping (all shapes and sizes), bags and bags of other junk and 7 piles of Himalayan balsam.
Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Wally for helping supervise the cleanup, and the Waste Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.
Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Alex, Allison, And, Ann, Becky, Boguslawa, Carol, Cassandra, Charles, Chris, Clare, Dan, Dave J, Dave W, David A, David C, David H, David T, Eughan, Gideon, Guy, Haydn, Jacek, James, Jane, Jason, John, Jon, L Marshall, Mark, Michael, Nick, Oliver, Penny, Pete, Peter, Phil, Richard, Rose, Rowena, Sally, Sarah, Steve, Stewart, Stuart, Theo, Wally, Zoe B and Zoe D.
So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That when volunteers are determined, there is no way of getting them out of the river..
The River Wandle has its problems when it comes to invasive non-native species. Floating pennywort is well established, Himalayan balsam can be found up and down the river, and Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed are well spread too. Therefore when it comes to the control of these, progress can be slow.
But it is a different story for Parrot’s Feather!
Parrot’s Feather is an aquatic invasive plant native to central and south America.
Parrot’s Feather loves to grow in still or slow moving water bodies, and because of this it became a popular plant for gardens and aquariums. However, like so many of these introduced species, Parrot’s Feather escaped and has become established in the wild.
The plant can quickly grow to cover small waterbodies, displacing native species and blocking out sunlight to the water below. In slow moving waters, it can cause flooding by blocking up watercourses and drainage channels.
Luckily on the Wandle we only had one record of Parrot’s Feather, and that was in Manor Pond at Beddington Park. To ensure there was no further spread, we worked with Sutton Council to organise a volunteer day to remove the plant, every last stem!
Our five lucky volunteers, Ed, Dave, Wally and Phil, joined our INNS Officer Alan and Louise from the Living Wandle team to manually remove the plant.
While our volunteers worked, our Education Officer ran a number of activities for families passing by to raise awareness about invasive non-native species.
To start things off, Alan set up nets to catch any stray bits of Parrot’s Feather that might break away during the works. This helped ensure we wouldn’t spread the plant any further. Vegetation was cut back so we could be extra sure none was hiding anywhere.
Then it was time to grapple and fork it out. Back breaking work… or so I heard…
It took 3 hours but all the Parrot’s Feather was removed, and Sutton Council’s Parks Team came and collected the plant to be disposed of.
So the classic before and after…