Tag Archives: Hackbridge

Warning: highly invasive aquatic plant, New Zealand pigmyweed, found on the Wandle

There has never been a more important time for every user on the River Wandle to Check, Clean, Dry – we have discovered New Zealand pigmyweed on the Wandle!

New Zealand pigmyweed, Crassula helmsii, is a highly invasive aquatic plant introduced to the UK in the 1900s as an ornamental “oxygenating plant” for ponds. It is thought to have escaped to the wild naturally (transported by wildfowl moving between ponds) or as ponds/aquaria were emptied out into nearby rivers.

Where would we find it?

New Zeland pigmyweed grows in still water, such as ponds or lakes, and also in slow moving waters like canals. It can even form dense colonies on damp mud and could therefore colonise marginal and impounded areas of the Wandle, and many of the backwater habitats.

Where is it in on the Wandle?

Currently, the only known New Zealand pigmyweed colony is in a small pond in Hackbridge / Beddington where it was discovered during our recent Wandle cleanup, highlighted on the map below.

Why is it bad?

New Zealand pigmyweed forms dense mats on the surface of the water, and up to 3 m under the water. These mats can shade out other plants below, resulting in a decline in oxygen in the water which has negative effects on invertebrates, frogs, newts and fish.

Much like floating pennywort, New Zealand pigmyweed can hinder recreational activities such as angling, by creating impenetrable “carpets” across open water bodies.

Finally, the control and eradication of this plant is very difficult. We are unlucky to have it, but lucky that we have discovered it with only one colony! In many other catchments where it has become established, water seems to have disappeared from the landscape.

Manchester Airport Pond, Photo Credit: Paul Breslin

What can I do to help stop the spread?

Avoid the pond! The pond where we have discovered the plant is not currently used for recreational purposes and ideally this would remain the case. For example, if you walk dogs in the area, please make sure they don’t go for a dip in this pond, as they could easily then transport it to wherever they next go for a swim. The plant can grow from tiny fragments that you might not even spot, so it is better to be safe than sorry!

Be vigilant! We believe (and hope!) this is the only case of New Zealand pigmyweed on the Wandle. However if you are out and about and believe you see the plant, please get in touch with us so we can come and investigate. You can call Polly on 07833 497 599 or email her at polly.bryant@wandletrust.org

Check, Clean, Dry! Finally if you are an angler on the river, or a use the river in another way such as canoeing, please make sure you are following biosecurity procedures such as Check, Clean, Dry. This will not only help reduce the risk of spread of New Zealand pigmyweed, but also the spread of other INNS and potential new INNS to the Wandle from other rivers.

Wandle cleanup: April 2017: Sutton

The BIG one

The organisation of our April cleanup was big as we had grand ambitions. We aimed to clean the river from Grove Park, all the way to the top of Culvers Island, covering over 2000 m of the Wandle.

To achieve this we needed a large number of volunteers. Luckily, we were gifted with sunny weather, and with a local 50th birthday joining us, we were not disappointed as 50 people met us at Hackbridge Road Bridge.

To tackle the 2000 m we divided into two teams, one led by Andy, and the other by Theo. After the Health & Safety briefing, and division of equipment, the two teams set off.

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Andy’s team headed down the Wandle to the northern end of Culvers Island and started working up the right hand branch of the river. To start with, rubbish was slow to find and our people wading made quick progress. The token coconut was retrieved from the river, along with 3 bike frames with the wheels missing.

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In no time, the team were at the halfway point at Culvers Avenue. Here, a large pile of fly tipped rubbish was spotted on the other side of the river. Given we had the luxury of numbers, and we didn’t want the rubbish to end up in the Wandle, we got started moving the pile to our agreed collection site.

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Local neighbours were so happy to see the fly tipped rubbish removed, they came out and gave us ice cold drinks and bottles of water as a thank you – given the heat of the day this was much appreciated!

With the tip removed, we got back in the river and headed towards the lunch site at Hackbridge Bridge.

Meanwhile, Theo’s team had been working hard on the Carshalton arm of the river. Helped by Derek and other volunteers from London Wildlife Trust’s Wilderness Island nature reserve, we worked steadily upstream, clearing litter from the dragons’ teeth and other habitat features which we’d previously installed in this stretch.

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By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink so we reunited at the event tent where Rosie had water, squash and cake ready for us. As it was Clare’s 50th, we were also treated to extra food including strawberries, grapes and Easter cakes baked by the students from Richmond University.

After re-fuelling, the teams headed out again to finish what they had started.

Andy’s team headed back to the north of Culvers Island to tackle the left hand side of the river while Theo’s team got back in at Butter Hill to continue up to Grove Park.

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It was a huge effort from all and we hope we left the Wandle in Sutton a little clearer and rubbish free.

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The next Wandle Cleanup will be on Sunday 14th May in Beddington Park where we will also be tackling Himayalan balsam!

So what did we find?  1 golf ball, 1 bike wheel, 1 sun hat, 1 flat pack wardrobe, 1 flat pack chest of drawers, 1 large section of roofing felt, 1 window, 1 hoover, 1 scooter, 1 traffic cone, 1 mobile phone, 1 bouncing ball, 1 concrete bathroom wall (we think), 1 umbrella, 3 bikes with wheels intact, 2.5 coconuts, 3 bike frames without wheels, 4 guttering pieces, half of a plastic Christmas tree, bags and bags of rubble from the fly tip and bags and bags of cans, bottles and other rubbish.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and helping me back at the garage, the students from Richmond University for baking some treats, and the Waste Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Andy, Ann, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Derek C, Derek P, Doris, Ed, Guy, Jackie, John N, John S, Mike, Phil, Sally, Steve, Stewart, Theo, Trevor, Victor and Wally. The sign in sheet from this event has gone missing in the garage so if you joined us and don’t see your name above, please let us know so we can add you!  You can comment here or email cleanups@wandletrust.org.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That people really do appreciate what we do – and thank us with ice cold drinks!

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Local Art Work on the Wandle

Senhor Claudio Funari is a well-known local figure in Carshalton, south London. He builds riverside sculptures using scrap metal he has pulled from the River Wandle. He also creates bankside flowerbeds and small gardens using natural materials such as branches.

Originally from São Paulo, Brasil, Funari (that’s what he likes to be called) started chatting with South East Rivers Trust (SERT) team members and visiting researcher Samantha Jane Hughes as they were watching trout breeding in this restored urban chalk river on their lunch break.

Funari talked about his art work along the Wandle and also knew where fish tended to shoal in different reaches of the river. He pulled an old photo album out of his shopping trolley. The photos showed his work as an artist in Brazil in the 1970’s and 1980’s when he was commissioned for sculpture, paintings and restoration work for private clients but also for churches and cathedrals across the state of São Paulo. Another life in another much warmer continent a long long time ago. He wasn’t sad though. He now knows and loves the River Wandle after following family to the UK. Claudio Funari personifies the phrase “life is a journey”. An amazing, and warm hearted man who shares the art and gardens he creates along the Wandle

Here at the Wandle Trust, we strongly support everyone who wants to take care of their local stretch of river. However, it’s important to make sure that your efforts help the river instead of harming it.

For instance, it’s great to pull out rubbish, but we ask you to please leave all plants, tree branches and other natural features in place. 

The Wandle has been very highly modified for flood defence and other purposes in the past, and it now needs as many natural features as possible to act as habitat for insects, birds and fish.

Please don’t bring new plants to the river from your garden or other rivers, as this could introduce damaging new invasive species to the river.

If you’d any more information, or you want to talk to us about adopting your own stretch of the river, please get in touch with us.

Many thanks to all our supporters, and everyone who wants to help us look after the Wandle!

Author: Samantha Jane Hughes

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

Hackbridge Restoration Update

This month has seen some drastic changes to the Hackbridge site. Over the last few weeks, contractors and the Wandle Trust team have been working hard to create new banks, backwaters and even an island – all in the name of river restoration!

But with all the building works taking place, the site has begun to look a bit bare. To solve this we got planting…

Hackbridge Planting Event

Last weekend (6th, 7th and 8th September) 60 volunteers from the local community joined the Wandle Trust team and added 6000 plants to the banks of the Wandle. The plants were a variety of species designed to create a natural vegetation structure along the bank. Close to the to water’s edge, volunteers planted aquatic species such as flag iris, purple loosestrife, various sedge species, hemp agrimony, ragged robin and a number of other species to give 18 in all.  In the drier more meadowlike conditions tall herb like wildflower plugs and seeds were planted contatining a mix of 23 native species.

Once these plants have grown, the Hackbridge site will look brilliant – a true wildlife haven in Greater London.

We’d like to thank all the volunteers who came over the weekend to help us – we couldn’t have done it without you!

Working Hard?

Next steps for the site include the installation of woody debris to further diversify the habitats. So keep your eyes peeled for our next update!