Tag Archives: Wandsworth

Wandle cleanup: January 2017: Wandsworth

The one with Rudolph’s leftover carrots   

And so another year of Wandle cleanups begins. But before we move on to 2017 and all the cleanup fun it has in store, we really should take a moment to reflect on what we achieved in 2016. Thanks to everyone involved, we achieved a lot!

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This is the tip of the rubbish iceberg really, as so much of what we pull out isn’t counted such as bottles, cans, plastic bags, old bits of metal and all the other junk that has been in the river so long we can no longer identify it.

We couldn’t have done this without the support of our funders, the support of the local councils who come and remove the rubbish free of charge, and most importantly, you and all our other volunteers who came along each month, put on waders and got stuck in. (Not literally, of course).

With 2016 behind us, now we look to 2017

For our first cleanup of 2017 we headed to King George’s Park in Wandsworth to tackle a short stretch of the river we hadn’t visited for a few years. The banks were steep, there were a lot of brambles, but with the energy of the New Year spurring us on, we felt ready for the challenge.

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Kitted out with waders, gloves, litter pickers and bin bags, we all got to work and it wasn’t long until trugs of rubbish were being hauled out and emptied into wheelbarrows.

We found a paddling pool, but as the weather wasn’t on our side, we decided not to set it up for the tea break.

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A bicycle was pulled out of the Wandle’s depths…

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… as well as some more unusual finds, including a bag of carrots? We can only assume Rudolph and the other reindeer were clearing out their cupboards after a carrot-heavy Christmas.

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Just before lunch, the wading team found a huge lorry tyre which provide difficult to remove from the mud, but also to heave up the bank!

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By lunchtime we were all very hungry and ready for a cup of tea. Ann had baked us a lovely tray bake which disappeared quickly while we all warmed up and caught up on our Christmas adventures. Giselle, an MSc student, arrived at lunch to interview us for her dissertation on rewilding and voluteering. If you can spare a few minutes, please so complete her survey online!

But no rest for the wicked, and after lunch we were back in the Wandle wading away. A carpet was pulled from the silty bed and heaved up the bank to drain.

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A second lorry tyre was found – we were just waiting to find the cab next!

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As it came to finishing time, Derek and his super senses had found something lurking under the water. It was well and truly stuck in the mud, and with some leverage from a crow bar and a lot of heaving from 5 people on the banks, we managed to pull it free.

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A trolley and pram frame all in one! The Wandle always delivers..

With that, we packed up just before the rain started and headed home.

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So what did we find? 1 electric blanket, 1 duvet, 1 pillow, 1 bag of carrots, 1 pair of headphones, 1 mobile phone, 1 bicycle, 1 tape cassette, 1 shovel, 1 radio, 1 trolley, 1 paddling pool, 1 pram frame, 1 money safe, 1 carpet, 2 lorry tyres, 2 traffic cones, 4 coconuts and 5 car tyres, with bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding this event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rose for supervising the Event Tent, Ann for baking, 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: Aaron, Andrew, Andy, Ann, Claire, Dalziel, Dave J, Dave W, David, Derek, Ed, Guy, Jane, John, Ken, Louise, Marcus, Nick, Penny, Phil, Rose, Sally, Steve, Theo, Tom, Tristan, Victor, Will and Younan.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Derek has a sixth sense when it comes to finding large items lurking in the Wandle!

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Wandle cleanup: April 2016: Wandsworth

The one with the local chef

For our April cleanup, it was time to venture to an unknown site for myself (but a well-known site for the regulars) – Ravensbury Terrace. This site is the next stop downstream from Trewint Street so we knew there would be plenty to find.

This was a slightly special cleanup as we were being filmed! Our work on the Carshalton Arm of the Wandle had recently won the Urban Category for the UK River Prize and for this we needed to produce a film about the project. One of the most important elements of our project was community engagement and our wonderful volunteers – and the cleanup was the perfect chance to catch them!

After a welcome talk from myself, we all got in the river to film a shot for our video – you’ll be able to watch the full film soon so keep your eyes peeled…

Once that was all wrapped up, the cleanup commenced. The first challenge was getting down to the bank via an upcycled staircase made of wooden pallets – the perfect addition to any fashionable London house. Once down there, we had a narrow path to ferry the rubbish back and forth.

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To make matters worse, there were several Giant Hogweed plants growing along the path. Giant Hogweed is a nasty invasive plant which can grow up to 5m tall – outshading native vegetation. The plant also produces a toxic sap which can cause chemical burns to the skin following exposure to sunlight. To help prevent anyone having to experience this, Theo Pike covered each plant with its very own traffic cone. We always there would be a use for all the traffic cones we found in the river!

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The rubbish quickly started appearing, as it always does. A metal drum, traffic cones, push chairs and more.

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As we worked up the river, we stumbled upon my favourite find of my (almost) two years of cleanups – a chef!

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As soon as he was safely out of the river, we made sure he was put to good use…

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Just before lunch, we got close to Trewint Street. On a previous cleanup there we had found a motorbike in the river, but we knew we’d be unable to haul it up the concrete flood walls above the bridge, so we pulled it out of the river and left it here it on the bank. But now it was time for collection.

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The bike was extremely heavy and the path was very narrow (even narrower with the hogweed plants). Our volunteer first broke the steering lock off the bike, allowing us to move it down the path easier. Two wrecking poles were then used to lift the bike.

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At the other end, our volunteers built a ramp up the pallet stairs and we all watched and hoped the ramp wouldn’t give way..

But it didn’t, one bike successfully removed. Time for lunch.

We were once again spoilt by the students from the American International University in London, who baked us a very impressive spread of cakes including salted caramel brownies and gooey chocolate cookies.

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During lunch, we even had time to interview some of our volunteers about the project and how the river in Carshalton has changed.

The cleanup resumed after lunch. A mattress was found and removed with some effort,  together with planks of wood and lots of piping as well.

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Cleanup 9Trug after trug were filled, emptied and ferried to the rubbish pile.

40 Ravensbury Terrace - Apr 2016

So what did we find?  1 mattress, 1 chef statue, 1 jumper, 1 vase of flowers, 1 robot hand, 1 donkey toy from Shrek (great early birthday present, thank you), 1 motorbike, 1 pushchair, 2 chairs, 3 traffic cones, 6 tyres, lots of plastic piping, lots of planks of wood, bags and bags of bottles, cans and 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, Dean’s Blinds for hosting us, the students for catering for our volunteers, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Alex, Andy ,Barbara, Bella, Brandon, Brian, Charles, Charly, Chris, Daniel, Dave, Denis, Derek, Ed, Eden, Emes, Guy, Ian, Jamie, Jess, Joe, John, Keith, Ken, Lisa, Mark, Matthew, Merel, Miriam, Nick, Olivia, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil, Piper, Rachelle, Rafael, Rob, Rose, Sally Ann, Sara, Steve, Theo, Victor, Victoria, Vittorio, Wally and Wayne.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That you can make anything you need from what you find in the Wandle

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Wandle cleanup: January 2016: Wandsworth

The one where we worked so hard we finished early..

Firstly, a Happy New Year to everyone!

For the first cleanup of 2016, we returned to Trewint Street in Earlsfield following reports of fly-tipping in the river. However little did we know that the day before brought a huge downpour of rain, so when we arrived at 10am on Sunday morning, all the rubbish had been washed further downstream. Oh well, off we go!

To start off 2016, I decided to summarise what we had achieved as a group in 2015. In total, we had spent 2241 hours clearing the Wandle covering 6.6 km of the river with 595 volunteers pulling out 33 tonnes of rubbish. Amazing. Below you can see some of the highlights.

2015 in Cleanups

After the inspirational talk, it was time to get started. A team of brave waders climbed over the fence into the Wandle and headed downstream under the Trewint Street bridge. A mattress had been spotted a short wade away and everyone’s sights had been set on dragging this back up the river and hauling it out over the concrete bank. A great warm up, we all thought..

Mattress

Pulling the mattress may look simple enough but it actually took 6 of us hauling on the grapples and holding the mattress in the air while it drained away some of the water it had soaked up. Getting in on a wheelbarrow and to the rubbish pile was a whole new kettle of fish.

Mattress

Meanwhile, litter pickers had discovered the large pile of fly-tipping further down the Wandle Trail. This pile has been kindly re-stocked for every cleanup to date, but a team got stuck in and shifted all sorts to the rubbish pile including water barrels, flooring, fencing, garden furniture and a TV.

Fly tipping

As the day continued, the rubbish pile got bigger and bigger. Theo cleared the newly installed fish pass which had caught some branches in the recent high flows on the river. Without getting wet, he managed to remove the branches using the grappling hook, much like one of those grabber arcade games except there was no adorable cuddly toy prize at the end, before clambering down the ladder to dislodge the biggest branches by hand.

Wading

We stopped slightly early for lunch as we were all pretty cold and in need of a cup of tea. Sally Ann, Jackie and Ann had made some delicious cakes for us all which disappeared in no time. Before we got started again, we had a mini team meeting to work out what to do. The waders had cleared downstream of the bridge leaving only the upstream route which was known to be full of silt. Bravely, the waders got back in and headed towards Plough Lane.

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Within 20 m, they were out again! The river was too deep and waders only reach so far up. So instead we all walked along the Wandle Trail looking for motorbikes from the banks. For once, we couldn’t see any!

Having already removed a huge pile of rubbish we decided to finish slightly early. We packed up the van and all headed home for a much needed warm shower.

Next month our cleanup falls on Valentine’s Day – so why not bring along a date! Who wants flowers and chocolates when you can wade in the Wandle and find yourself the perfect gift…

The Perfect Gift

So what did we find?  1 sodden mattress, 1 desk chair, 1 folding chair, 1 lounger, 1 kitchen chair, 1 picnic table, 1 TV, 1 dustbin, 1 gas canister, 1 push chair, 1 thermos, 1 rusty old air rifle, 1 clothes dryer, 1 heater, 3 traffic cones, 3 water barrels, 4 bicycles, lots and lots of fencing and miscellaneous flooring and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding the event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann, Jackie and Sally Ann for catering for our volunteers, Wally & Theo for supervising with me and Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Abi, Alex, Andrea, Andy, Ann, Barry, Charles, Chris, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Ed, George E, George N, Guy, Hamish, Hugo, Ian, Jackie, James, Jane B, Jane P, Jason, Joe, John, Karoline, Louise, Margie, Marina, Mark, Mike, Penny, Phil, Rianne, Rose, Sally Ann, Simon, Stephen, Subiratha, Sue, Theo, Tom H, Tom K, Victor, Wally, Xilona and Zoe

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That there is a very good reason why I bring the bag of spare clothes every month…

Rubbish Pile

Wandle cleanup: December 2015: King George’s Park

The one with the return of Miss Evans…

The year has gone very fast indeed and before we knew it, the last cleanup of 2015 was upon us. For December we went to King Georges Park in Wandsworth. With the Event Tent decked with tinsel and my reindeer antlers on, I was joined by 30 volunteers on a chilly Sunday morning. After the usual Health & Safety briefing we got started, with half of us getting in the river and the other half working from the banks.

Within 10 minutes, a bicycle had been sighted, collected and placed on the start of the rubbish pile by Santa. An excellent start.

River Santa

While on the banks we were discussing Christmas shopping, and how far behind we all were, with the idea that maybe the Wandle could be our solution? Although I imagine we’d be less than impressed if Santa’s sack really was filled with soggy gifts from the Wandle. Olaf flip flop anyone?

Olaf Flip Flop

To distract us all from the cold, we became magpies, closely inspecting what we were pulling out of the Wandle, looking for some special Christmas finds. I discovered this old style Fanta can which no one else seemed quite as excited about..

Fanta Can

We found the usual coconut…

Classic Coconut

As well as what we believe was a Nativity scene Mary, minus the head…

Mary

By 1pm, we were all ready for a cup of tea to warm up and to try some of Ann’s carrot cake which she kindly made for us all. Much to our delight, we were visited by a Christmas Angel during lunch – Erica Evans! As lots of our volunteers will remember, Erica organised our Wandle cleanups for many years and happened to be visiting London this weekend, so she thought she’d pay us a visit!

We didn’t stop for long with the chilly weather, and so back in the river we went. The waders continued upstream to the next bridge, clearing over 300m of river. Some afternoon finds included:

This metal chair, which I have been informed is a welding chair.

Welding Chair

This brightly coloured figurine which I was told was a Shirdi Buba (learning lots at this cleanup)

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And some large heavy shed roof sheets which had absorbed so much water they were a real challenge to get out so late in the day. Trust Derek to find something just as we were finishing up!

Wooden Board

Last year 518 volunteers pulled out 8.5 tonnes of rubbish from the Wandle, donating 2012 hours of their time to the cause. Have we beaten this for 2015? Stayed tuned over the Christmas break to find out!

So what did we find?  1 frisbee, 1 motorbike dashboard, 1 Olaf flip flop, 1 railway sleeper, 1 70” record, 1 radio, 1 television, 1 vintage Fanta can, 1 sun lounger, 1 welding chair, 1 generic chair, 2 bicycles, 4 pillows, 5 tyres, 5 umbrellas, lots of wire and bags and bags of other junk.

The Rubbish Pile!

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann for catering for our volunteers (cheese scones and carrot cake!), Wally for supervising the Event Tent and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Ann, Barry, Charles, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ed  ,Guy, James, Jamie, Jane, John, Louise, Marina , Mike, Nick , Paul, Per, Phil, Sally, Simon, Theo, Tom, Victor, Wally, Xilano and Zoe.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That no one reads the email blast! My request for Christmas attire was missed on everyone..

Christmas Selfie