Wandle cleanup: November 2018: Wandsworth

Our November cleanup was scheduled to be held at Ravensbury Terrace in Wandsworth and the sun was shining. However, the heavy rain the previous day and throughout the night resulted in us unfortunately having to cancel the event!

Taking one look at the river we could see the water level had risen dramatically. The small island on the bend was well below the surface and the lower branches of the weeping willow were submerged. A repeat of December 2017 showing just how easily rain affects this site in Wandsworth: 

We did remove a few bin bags of rubbish from around the cars. Mostly drinks cans, bottles and food wrappers – every bit makes a difference!

Despite all this we want to say a huge THANK YOU to Dave for getting to the site early and for staying to greet any unknowing volunteers, and to all those who helped litter pick the car park. Apologies again to anyone who didn’t get the email, it was great to see you and chat over hot drinks and cakes. If this was your first time attending a cleanup, rest assured very few events are cancelled and we look forward to showing you the ropes in December.

See you next time for our festive cleanup!

Please bring some cash to purchase your Wandle cleanup Christmas cards!

Wandle cleanup: October 2018: Merton

For our October cleanup we headed to North Road in Merton. This was Jo’s first river cleanup and an eventful one at that, so thank you to everyone for being so welcoming and helpful!

As usual we started off the day with the Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. After a very rainy Saturday night we decided it was sensible for only a few of our more experienced waders to clear the river, so everyone else set off litter picking around the banks, park and roads.

Despite the poor weather we had a great turnout with about 42 volunteers – so thank you for braving it in the wind and rain!

We removed as much litter as possible from the river where it was safe to do so, and lots of litter from the surrounding areas. We found several interesting things, including a pram, half a motorbike, a mattress, a sofa and a chest of drawers.

We stopped for lunch around 12.30 and took shelter from the rain under the gazebo. Big thanks to Wally for bringing along the delicious pumpkin pie and to the mysterious individual who baked the chocolate brownies!

We couldn’t continue wading after lunch as the river had become too deep and fast-flowing thanks to the continuous rain. Instead, we litter picked around the park and the surrounding area. Initially we thought the area was fairly clean but as we looked further and deeper, it turned out there was lots of litter picking that needed to be done.

Here is the final rubbish pile!

So what did we find? 4 tyres, a mattress, sofa, half a motorbike, a trolley, a chest of drawers, a rocking chair, a pushchair, a toy kitchen, a bouncy ball, a fence, a bench, a food waste bin, a basket, a cone, a chair, lots of bottles, rugs and plastic.  

On a more serious note… While community groups like ourselves can make a massive difference, the government and large companies, like supermarkets, are largely responsible for tackling the issues with plastic waste. We can and should all use our voices to pressure our local council and supermarket to phase out the selling of single-use plastic.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie and Wally for supervising the Event Tent, and Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Eleanor, John, Lia, Farrah, Maddi, Eric, Elliott, Wally, Rosie, Chris E, Swzen, William, Martin, Tom, Andy, Wayne, Billy, Chris H, Cuba, Kaori, Elizabeth, Duma, Per, Guy, Jamie, Nick, Jonny, James, Mark, Michika, Luke, Raphael, Dave, Lynda, Paul, J, Nicholas, Rob, Derek, Aaron, Charles and Sue!

See you next month!

Lucy and Jo

Goat Bridge Weir and Level Testing

There is a water level test taking place on the Wandle at Goat Road and we wanted you to be aware.

Plans for the Millfields Redrow development include alterations to Goat Bridge Weir which will improve the habitat and fish passage on the Wandle.

Over the next month, the Environment Agency will be investigating the impact that current river levels have on Spencer Road Wetlands. This will help inform the future plans for Goat Bridge Weir.

The weir will be lowered from today (8th October) and it will be raised again on the 22nd October 2018. During this time, you will see gradual changes to the water levels in this stretch.

Please read the full statement from the Environment Agency here:

EA Goat Bridge Weir Statement

Wandle cleanup: September 2018: Merton

For September we headed to Waterside Way in Merton. 

This cleanup is part of Wandle Fortnight – a two-week celebration of all things Wandle. Find out what other events are on offer here. 

 

Sadly, this month we said goodbye to Hannah who is off to Canada in a few weeks’ time. So a BIG thank you to Hannah for running the events these past few months, and all the best for Canada. On happier news, we also welcomed Jo, our new Cleanup Contractor who will have her first official cleanup next month!

As we had visited this site about 6 months ago, we were hoping to find less rubbish. However, as we drove up the road towards the site we could see that the litter pickers would definitely have their hands full, and as soon as we got in the river, we realised the waders would too!

Before we got started, we kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. Once work began, it was not long until large items were being pulled out and the list kept growing…

…we found 4 tyres – a whole set!

A metal fence, which took four strong volunteers to carry it back down the path to the rubbish pile. It must have taken some real effort to get this into the river.

A toilet seat / photo frame

A beer keg – which unfortunately was not full of beer

We also came across some of the local wildlife – eels! Here is one of the bigger ones that we saw. But we quickly released him gently back into the Wandle.

We found a lot of heavy items, so thank you to all the volunteers for your hard work and continued enthusiasm throughout. I bet your muscles ached on Monday!

So what did we find?
A camera, broomstick, lots of carpets, 3 bicycles, a sleeping bag, wallet, 4 tyres, a duvet, 2 bicycle tyres, a washing machine motor, lots of gutters, a golf ball, a fishing rod, a metal fence, a toilet seat, a children’s bicycle, lawnmower, scooter, coconut, epi-pen, ID, oyster card, shopping trolley, baby walker, chairs, sink, table, silt trap/drain bucket, strimmer, 2 saucepans and an umbrella.

All of this was just some of the more unusual items we collected amongst many cans, plastic bottles, wet wipes, food wrappers and other items of litter in the river.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Derek, Lucy, David, Aaron, Nick, Phil, David, Emily, Andy, Paul, Wayne, Thea, Madeleine, Sheila, Rosie, Frank, Phil, Rhianna, Nicholas, Charles, Caitlin, Paddy, Kaori, Grace, Anna, Brigid, Kaiden, Steve, Martin, Janet, Will, Simon, William, John, Per, Steve and Chris.

See you next month!

Hannah, Lucy and Joanna

Giving eels a helping hand on the Wandle

In 2017, we delivered the Wandle Eel Project in partnership with the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Environment Agency, Zoological Society London (ZSL), National Trust, and Wandsworth Borough Council.

Why?

European eels (Anguilla anguilla) once thrived in London’s rivers but the number of young joining the adult populations have dropped by over 95% since the 1980s and the species has been classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2008.

One of the major threats to eels in freshwater are barriers to upstream migration such as weirs and sluice gates that reduce the amount of habitat available for eels to grow and mature.

What’s been going on?

This project aimed to improve eel passage along the Wandle by installing eel passes at six locations where structures were a complete or partial barrier to migration. All installations were completed by Wandle Trust staff and assisted by local volunteers.

1. In June 2017, the existing eel pass at Morden Hall Park was repaired, extended and fitted with a monitoring trap. This site was then used by ZSL to train local volunteers, and National Trust staff to monitor elver migration along the Wandle.

2. The Topps Tiles tiles site in Earlsfield was delivered in December 2017 (in the snow), which included a row of lift out eel tiles with upstream deflector, and a section of low profile bed tiles on an adjacent channel. This site was testing the improved steel brackets which were fabricated by a local contractor/volunteer. These installations were designed as ‘easements’ to allow eels to navigate the fast flowing sections of the heavily modified concrete channels. Two old, defunct eel passes were disassembled and removed from site.

3. The Trewint Street easement was installed in December 2017, and consisted of a 30 m section of the new ‘low profile’ bed tiles that were commissioned for this project, with a short section of flexible bristles to navigate over a 300 mm wooden baulk at the upstream end.  This has provided an additional route up the left hand channel which offers a less turbulent route than the fish pass in the right hand channel.

4. The eel pass at EDF was installed during Dec 2017/Jan 2018 with a 15 m section of ‘low profile’ bed tiles. As some high tides overtop the weir, these works were designed to increase the range of time/tides that this structure would be passable to elvers.

5. Improvements to an existing eel pass upstream of Ravensbury Park were installed in March 2018. An extension piece was added at the upstream end to prevent debris blockages. At the downstream end, a deflector plate was added to reduce turbulence, and four standard bed tiles were installed to direct eels towards the pass entrance.

6. This gravity fed eel pass was installed on a small side channel near Poulter Park in March 2018. This was a cheaper and more secure alternative to a pass that had previously been stolen.

We would like to give a huge thanks to all our volunteers who helped install these passes and those who are continuing to monitor eel numbers during the current season!

Wandle cleanup: August 2018: Sutton

For our August cleanup, we headed to Beddington Park in Sutton.

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. The weather seemed a bit greyer than it has been for the past couple of months, but this didn’t seem to stop anyone’s enthusiasm to get going!

This area is maintained by the local council, so we were not expecting to find as much litter here compared to other sites. However, our volunteers still managed to find many plastic bottles, tin cans, plastic bags within the first couple of hours.

Within about 10 minutes, we also found two orange construction fences.

Halfway down the first stretch of river, a tree had fallen across the channel. This trapped quite a lot of plastic which we managed to clear. We also removed a road sign from this area too.

After a quick lunch break, we headed down the river once again, into the park. Derek managed to find a shopping trolley, however there was not much litter to find on this stretch of river.

In addition to litter, the river banks along this site were once heavily infested with Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant. We have been working with volunteers over the last few years to tackle balsam and were happy to see very few plants during this cleanup! This goes to show that the hard work of our volunteers is paying off.

So what did we find? 2 traffic cones, 2 construction fences, 1 road sign, 1 golf ball, 1 handbag, 1 plastic snake, 1 shopping trolley, 1 flag, 4 hub caps, wooden boards and planks, metal scraps, bags and bags of other items including tin cans, food wrappers, plastic bags and plastic bottles.

On a more serious note… These events truly demonstrate the impact that plastic waste is having on the environment. At every cleanup, we find many plastic bottles in the river, which can take up to 450 years to degrade in water! One easy thing that anyone can do to tackle this problem is to buy and use a reusable bottle.

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, Dave for leading the work with Himalyan balsam, and Sutton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Amy, Martin, Steve, Derek, Paul, Sheila, Gearoid, John, Paul, Sue, Simon, William, Aaron, Phil, John, Sue, Sarah, Marilyn, Nico, Euan, Olivia, Charles, Rosie, Dave, Neil, Ser, Wally, and Chris. We had three new volunteers this month, so once again thank you to Euan, Paul and Gearoid for joining us. We hope you enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you again at future events.

See you next month!

Lucy and Hannah

Wandle cleanup: July 2018: Sutton

For our July cleanup, we headed to Goat Road in Mitcham.

This was the first event that myself and Hannah ran since taking over from Polly and we would like to thank everyone for being so welcoming and helpful. We would especially like to thank Polly for showing us the ropes!

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It was very hot, but everyone was still eager to get wading and litter picking! We had a great turnout with about 30 volunteers working hard in and around the river.  A few members of the group also spotted some Himalayan balsam and worked as a team to remove it before it could spread seeds any further.

Throughout the day we removed lots of plastic litter and we also found a few interesting things, including a passport, a hammer, a king size mattress, a fridge, a (fake) Rolex and a pram.

Our lunch break consisted of cake eating, tea drinking and hiding out in the shade, before setting off again further along the river into Poulter Park.

Due to the fast flow and depth of the water, we could not wade along much of the river here, but we still came across a child’s bike, and of course lots more litter!

So what did we find? 1 watch, 1 passport, 1 bike, 1 santa hat, 1 hammer,  1 2012 calendar, 1 coconut, 1 golf ball, a king size mattress, a fridge, a motorcycle helmet, a large pipe, a scooter, 2 footballs, 3 chairs, 7 tyres, and of course, lots of plastic bags, bottles and wrappers.

We ended the day by showing how two minds really are better than one as we all worked together to ram the van full of all the equipment in some sort of organised manner (you’ll all be happy to know that Hannah and I were not flattened by any equipment when we unloaded the van!)

On a more serious note…These events truly demonstrate the impact that plastic waste is having on the environment, and why we all need to help tackle the plastic pollution issue now. It is great to see both regular and new faces coming along to our events – let’s keep up the good work!

See you next month!

Lucy and Hannah

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and Sutton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Chris, Steve, Neil, Tom, Damon, Tom, Charles, Rose, John, Joanne, David, Paul, Steve, Per, Nick, Sarah, Dave, Will, Simon, Tim, Martin, Derek, Guy, Stewart, Sheila, Chris, Phil, Luke, Lynda and Wally.

Wandle cleanup: June 2018: Wandsworth

For June we headed to Ravensbury Terrace in Earlsfield, Wandsworth.

At this event, Polly was accompanied by myself (Hannah) and Lucy. We will be taking over from Polly and running the cleanups from July 2018. This month was our chance to learn the ropes!

We kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It was a wonderful warm and sunny day, so it came as no surprise that everyone seemed keen to get wading shortly afterwards.

We had a great turnout, with around 50 volunteers working in and alongside the river. Whilst removing litter, some of the group concentrated on removing Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant species, from the river banks.

Here is the before and after!

Although we had recently visited this site back in January, the group quickly found our first big item – a Boris bike!

Followed by… another bike!

As the day went on, we found some other interesting items including a driver’s license, a teapot, a gold watch, coconuts, and a raccoon (don’t worry, not a real one), which Polly gave a new home.

Our break for lunch was a nice opportunity to cool off, drink some water and of course fill up on some cake.

The second half of the day was spent removing anything we had missed, and we found some wooden desks, and this teapot!

So what did we find? 1 VHS, 1 carpet, 1 speaker, 1 scooter, 1 Disney art box, 1 teapot, 1 raccoon, 1 bracelet, 1 watch, 1 driver’s license, 1 bucket on wheels, 1 trolley bag, 2 bikes, 2 footballs, 2 coconuts, 2 golf balls, 2 wooden desks, some silver piping and lots of glass and plastic bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags and bits of cloth – and bags and bags of other junk.

We also spotted a Cinnabar moth, which I had never seen before (thanks Dave)!

See you next month!

Hannah and Lucy

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally and Maddy for supervising the Event Tent, and Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Alison, Anne, Bridget, Charles, Chris, Dave, David C, David D, Derek, Ed, Eiryn, Ethan, Garth, Gemma, Gideon, Guy, Hugh, Ian, Jack, Jane, Jason, Jeffrey, Jo, Joanne, Joe, John, John, Luke, Madeline, Mark, Martin, Nick, Nicola, Paul, Per, Phil, Raphael, Robyn, Rory, Sally Ann, Sheila, Simon, Steve B, Steve N, Suzanne, Thomas, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: May 2018: Merton

The one with the prehistoric trolley… 

For May’s cleanup we headed to Plough Lane in Merton – a site we hadn’t visited for over a year.

The day started in the usual way, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It wasn’t long until we were trekking down the Wandle Trail to get into the river and start the rubbish hunt.

It was a sunny, spring day and the vegetation along the banks was a gloriously green backdrop to our wading party. Within half an hour, the first item was found – a car seat!

As the day continued, Plough Lane gave us some equally interesting finds including a briefcase…

…A ukulele – nice playing Phil!

…A drone…

And perhaps my favourite find – a Pokeball. I had always wanted one growing up and this was my lucky day!

By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink and headed back to the tent for a break and some lunch.

In the afternoon, the wading team found a couple of challenges to keep themselves busy. The first was a trolley which, by the state of it, had been in the Wandle for many, many years.

The second was a bicycle – again buried so deep in the silt we were not sure what it was for about half an hour!

To finish the day we found a scooter and used it to head all the way back to the tent to pack up.

So what did we find?  1 trolley, 1 scooter, 1 jumper, 1 drone, 1 bicycle, 1 child bike, 1 washing line, 1 till, 1 licence plate, 1 dinosaur (and no I didn’t keep this one), 1 car mat, 3 dust sheets, a hessian bag full of rubble, 8 carpets and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent, and Merton Council for organising the collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:    Alice, Andy, Annabelle, Becky, Beth, Bridget, Caitlin, Carol, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, Dave , Derek, Ed, Edward, Eiryn, Ethan, Garth, Gideon, Guy, Jim, Joanne, John, Kory, Lloyd, Madeline, Martin, Mevan, Michael, Paddy, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rose, Sarah, Sheila, Simon, Steve, Stewart, Sue, Thomas, Toby, Tom, Wally and William.

Wandle cleanup: April 2018: Sutton

The one where we needed an air freshener

 For April we headed to Culvers Avenue in Sutton.

We kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. At this event, I was joined by our new member of staff, Jess Mead, who will be helping me run community events on the Wandle, Hogsmill and Beverley Brook!

We headed up to Watercress Park to get in the river and started wading down one side of Culvers Avenue. We were lucky enough to have a new, adorable helper this month (see right image, and no that isn’t Jess!).

The pile quickly grew, with my favourite find of the day: a pool noodle.

As we worked through the morning, the weather took a turn for the worse and we were suddenly aware we were getting quite wet from the rain. But that didn’t dampen spirits as we found some new transportation…

And I was even given some flowers….

By lunchtime, we were wet and ready for a cup of tea. A big thanks to Wally for getting the hot drinks and cake ready – they were appreciated. In the afternoon, we headed down the other side of Culvers Avenue, finding the classic coconut…

A handy floatation device…

And some perfume – which came in very handy as we found some pongy items in the river and wanted our rubbish pile to smell less vile.

But with the rain pouring and the site clear, we called it a day.

So what did we find?  1 parasol, 1 pool noodle, 1 crutch, 1 scooter, 1 baby bike, 1 football, 1 safe, 1 mattress, 1 microwave, 1 champagne bottle (empty we promise..), 1 kettle, 1 basket ball hoop, 1 camping chair, 2 pogo sticks, 2 bikes, 2 tricycles, 4 coconuts,  lots of railings, pots and pans, and bags and bags of bottles and other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day and to our funders, Tesco!

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Andy, Chris, Dave, Derek , Frank, Gearoid, Geoff, Gideon, Guy, Jackie, Jane, John, Madeline, Marcus, Martin, Maude, Mickey, Nikolett, Paul, Phil, Roger, Sheila, Simon, Sofia, Teodora, Thea, Tom, Victoria, Wally, Wayne and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? If something smells really bad, it is handy to find perfume in the river to keep your rubbish heap smelling fresh.