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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