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Wandle cleanup: February 2018: Sutton

The one when it was very, very, very cold

 For February we headed to Poulter Park in Sutton, on a very cold day.

We kicked of the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. With the cold temperature, everyone was eager to get moving and so the event began!

As the event started, rubbish was slow to find. Our wading team made it quite a distance up the river before having to unload their first trugs – but as soon as they started, it didn’t stop!

Trug after trug full of cans, bottles, plastic bags and more were emptied and taken back to the rubbish pile. It wasn’t long until the classic Wandle coconut was found either!

After a short while, a smaller team of waders broke from the usual group and headed right to the other end of the park at Watermead Lane. They had their sights set on a safe that was rumoured to have been in the Wandle for 10 years or more.

The safe had not previously been tackled, as it was extremely heavy. However, with the extra bodies today, and the need to stay warm with lots of exercise, the challenge was accepted!

Dislodging the safe from the silty bed took some serious crow bar work. Then began the negotiations to get the safe up on to the river bank.

Ropes, crow bars and muscle seemed to be the solution but it still took considerable effort.

Once it was “ashore”, it dawned on everyone that we had only made it halfway, and the real test was getting it to the road so it could be collected.

The safe was eventually placed atop a wheel barrow, and an escort of 8 people carefully pushed it all the way to the end of Watermead Lane for collection.

After all this effort, it was time for cake. We were very happy to see the students at Richmond International University had baked some lovely Valentine’s treats for us again.

After lunch, we finished the remaining 100 m of the Wandle in the park, but with the temperature plummeting and little rubbish to be found, we stopped for the day to go home and defrost.

So what did we find?  1 safe, 1 duvet, 1 freezer, 1 rubber dinghy, 1 bag of apples, 1 coconut, 1 hedge trimmer, 1 motorbike, 1 scooter, 2 footballs, 2 traffic cones, 3 carpets, 8 metal poles and bags and bags of other smaller junk including plastic bottles, food wrappers and plastic bags.

We also saw a Kestrel, a Heron and a Little Egret while working!

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent on such a cold day, the students at Richmond International University for baking such lovely treats 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, Ann, Carl, Charles, Cheick, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ellie, Eve, Frank, Gearoid, Gideon, Gustina, Guy, Hannah, Ian, Isabel, James, Joe, John, John, Kayle, Keith, Martin, Max, Michelle, Nikolay, Nikolett, Paul, Rosie, Sam, Sanud, Sheila, Simon, Sofia, Steve, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Theadore, Victoria, Vincent Wally, Wayne, William H and William M.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? No amount of hot tea can keep you warm!


Fly-tipping at Trewint Street

The Trewint Street bridge in Earlsfield is a fly-tipping blackspot which has caused concern for local people and conservationists for many years.

At the end of 2017, a significant pile of rubbish had started to accumulate again at this site in the river under the bridge, pictured below.

Today, the rubbish pile is enormous, almost to the level of the Wandle Trail itself, and there is also extensive fly-tipping and littering along the trail and pavement.

The Wandle Trust and the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust received large numbers of emails and Tweets reporting this issue, which we have duly reported to the Environment Agency and to LB Wandsworth, dating back a good four months.

Located at a key access point for the Wandle Trail and the Wandle Valley Regional Park, this indiscriminate fly-tipping at Trewint Street is unsightly, undermines the current investment work being undertaken by the Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust, in partnership with Wandsworth Council, and is a major source of pollution for the River Wandle.

The improvement work to the Wandle Trail, along with recent interventions by the Wandle Trust to create better river habitats,  aims to regenerate, enhance and make the Wandle Trail more accessible for the benefit of local people.

The Wandle Trust organises frequent community clean-ups along the full length of the River Wandle including work at Trewint Street, usually twice a year, to remove rubbish from the river and its banks, which Wandsworth Council have supported by disposing of the collected waste.

Unfortunately, the magnitude of the rubbish that is regularly being dumped at Trewint Street is far beyond the scope of community volunteer events, and we at the Wandle Trust believe that clearance here requires professional expertise organised by the landowner.

What next?

In the first instance, there is an urgent need to coordinate the removal of the rubbish from the river as this could be polluting the water and is only encouraging further fly-tipping.

Secondly, and of equal importance, is the need to take serious steps to deter fly-tipping at this site in the future.

The Wandle Trust strongly believes that further action needs to be taken by the landowner, Wandsworth Council, at this site. We will liaise with them and work with them to the best of our ability – but we do not believe we are in a position to solve this problem for them.


Wandle cleanup: Wandsworth: January 2018

For our first cleanup of 2018, we headed to Ravensbury Terrace in Earlsfield.

Having attempted this cleanup for December, I had deja vu as I unloaded the van on site. At least this time there was no snow and you could actually see the bottom of the river, instead of the raging torrent I was faced with on Sunday 10th December 2017. Check out the video here ( or look at the photo I took!

This month’s event was supported by a local resident, Phil Stubbington, who kindly donated to the Trust’s cleanup work, and also through our Wandsworth for the Wandle project, funded by the Tesco Bags of Help fund. Many thanks to both for allowing us to put on this much needed event!

We kicked of the day in the usual style, with a Health & Safety talk, but I also added a 2017 quiz – what had we achieved through our cleanups in 2017? Well here is the summary:

Not bad hey?

With our 2017 reflection over, we started cleanups for 2018. Waders got in the river, bank support were ready and waiting and the first cleanup of 2018 started!

Within a few minutes, it was clear we had a lot of work to do. The wading team hardly moved a metre for the first half an hour as they collected trug after trug full of rubbish.

One find that caught my attention first was this conch shell! We considered cleaning it up and using it as a way to summon the volunteers for break time, but in the end we decided against it.

Within less than half an hour, this was the rubbish pile:

We had not been to this site since April 2016, and it clearly needed a visit from us as the river bed was purely made of rubbish including plastic, bits of wood, building rubble, clothing and carpets.

The team soon found a mattress as well which was so full of water it took some muscle to get up the bank and then up on to the car par for collection.

For 20 minutes, we watched as a dedicated trio dug around in the river bank for an unidentified large metal object. In the end, it was not one safe..

But two safes!

A find that got the volunteers excited was this Avo Meter.

However, as I had never heard of an “Avo Meter”, I was more excited by finding Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo.

By lunch time, the rubbish pile was huge and the volunteers had started a toy collection for me to choose from…

In the afternoon, we got back to it as the temperature had dropped and it was just better to keep moving.

We found a stone loach which we safely returned to the river. Throughout the day we also spotted four eels and a barbel (or so I am told…)

As we neared the railway bridge we found a collection of number plates..

And some huge silver piping which looked much heavier than they were to carry, allowing everyone to look stronger than they were.

To top it all off, we found some big money, 1 Romanian Leu which is 19p at the moment according to Google!

Finally with the rubbish pile about the overspill the fence, we called it a day and packed up the van.

So what did we find?  1 gas meter, 1 forklift tyre, 1 bra, 1 baby dummy, 1 pub bench, 1 Go Kart tyre, 1 single mattress, 1 car seat, 1 Romanian Leu (19p), 1 bicycle basket, 1 camping kettle, 1 makeup set, 1 Lumiere toy, 1 Bruce (shark from Finding Nemo), 1 conch shell, 2 old pollution booms, 2 Christmas trees, 2 bicycles, 2 safes, 2 TVs, 3 computer chairs, 3 traffic cones, 3 giant silver bits of piping, 4 other tyres, 4 carpets, 5 coconuts, 10 number plates, bags and bags and bags and bags of other rubbish!

We also saw 4 eels, 2 stone loach and a barbel while working!

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

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:   Aaron, Alfie, Andy, Annabelle, Becca, Charles, Chris E, Chris F, Daniel, Dave, Derek, George, Guy, Ian, Jackie, James, Jane, Joanne, Joe, John, John, Marcus, Mark, Martina, Martina, Nicola, Nicola, Nigel, Noaman, Paul, Penny, Phil R, Phil S, Rory, Rose, Rosemary, Sam, Shelia, Steve B, Steve M, Stewart, Thea, Thomas, Wally and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? What a stone loach and baby barbel look like!

Wandle cleanup: November 2017: Merton

The one where the police were called on us…

On a cold November morning, I arrived at North Road, Wimbledon to set up for this month’s Wandle cleanup. As I was unloading the van with a couple of helpers, a police car pulled up.

Although we knew we’d done nothing wrong, we were slightly nervous as they approached. It turned out that someone had reported fly-tipping from a Zip Van, and the police had come to check it out, only to find the Wandle Trust setting up our event to tackle fly-tipping.

So that was ironic – but if you’re reading this, and you were the person who made that call – thank you for caring so much about keeping the Wandle Valley clean, and don’t stop making those calls if you see anything suspicious!

With that all sorted, and no one arrested, I gathered our 45 volunteers to take a two minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, and then got our cleanup started.

This is the first event supported by the Tesco Bags of Help Fund which offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags.

Our project, Wombles of the Wandle, was successful in receiving £2,000 after coming second in the public vote. The money will be used to run two Wandle cleanups in the Merton area and to replace some equipment such as gloves.  So a big thanks to all who voted for us. We have already put the money to good use…

To get started, we headed down to the footbridge by Garfield Recreation Park and got in to the Wandle to work upstream. The water was much deeper than usual, with poor visibility. This was due to heavy rainfall overnight, and some natural woody material which had fallen in the river, creating some excellent new habitats for fish in what was previously quite a straight, uniform channel.

While we loved the new additions to the channel, it did make our event a bit harder, with logs and bits of tree to navigate over, and deeper water. In fact, in some places it was so deep we had to get out and walk along the bank until the level had dropped.

Despite the additional challenges, rubbish was found. We cleared 15 bags of plastic bottles which had accumulated near one tree trunk..

We found the token Wandle coconuts too, as well as a green pepper, carved pumpkin and apples…

We also found this commemorative mug from Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding.

By lunch time we were freezing and headed back to the tent for tea and cakes, as well as some delicious savoury snacks made for us by the students from the Richmond International University. However, we didn’t stop for long as the weather wasn’t getting any warmer and it was better to be moving than standing still.

After lunch, we headed under the North Road bridge and continued upstream. Again, the water was deep and murky, but we found a few things which made our trip worthwhile, including a sofa…

A Merton Council waste bin…

And a bike.

With 500 m of the Wandle covered in this cleanup, we called it a day and all went home to defrost.

So what did we find?  1 carved pumpkin, 1 green pepper, 1 step ladder, 1 computer chair, 1 Vishnu statue, 1 Prince Charles & Princess Diana mug, 1 piece of guttering, 1 shopping basket, 1 bicycle, 1 tyre, 1 bike wheel, 1 wheelchair, 1 mattress, 1 duvet, 1 Merton Council waste bin, 1 sofa, 2 wooden pallets, 10 coconuts, 15 tennis balls, 15 bags of plastic bottles and bags and bags of other junk.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, the students from Richmond International University for baking such yummy treats and the Waste Team at 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:   Aaron, Alec, Andrew, Andy, Beth, Carl, Charles, Chris, Christine, Claire, Dave, David, Derek, Emily , Fahad, George, Guy, Hayley, Ian, James L, James T, Jayne, Joe, John, Kai, Karoline, Korab, Lisa, Michael D, Michael O, Mickeif, Nick, Per, Phil R, Phil S, Rolanas, Sheila, Steve, Stewart, Thea, Thomas, Wally, Wayne and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Tick off all the equipment as you pack the van so you don’t have to drive back to site at 5pm and dig through the rubbish pile to find the missing Wandle Trust flag. I looked like a crazy person…

Wandle cleanup: Wandsworth: October 2017

The Great River Rescue!

For October we headed to Wandsworth to tackle the Wandle through King George’s Park, and with 48 people joining us, we were fairly sure we would be finishing the day with a very large rubbish pile.

The cleanup this month was part of a much wider campaign to raise awareness of the amount of plastic and rubbish found in our rivers, and consequently the ocean: The Great River Rescue. The campaign has been organised by environmental charity Thames21, The Rivers Trust, the Marine Conservation Society, the Angling Trust and the Canal and River Trust. The campaign was inspired by Future Dust, a large-scale artwork by Maria Arceo in the shape of a giant plastic footprint commissioned as part of Totally Thames, the September-long annual celebration of the River Thames. The installation will tour to different riverside locations across London. To find out more about the campaign and Future Dust, visit here.

After the Health & Safety talk, we divided up in to 3 teams: wading, bank support and litter pickers. The wading team got in the Wandle just upstream of the Lydden Road pedestrian bridge and from there headed upstream. In no time at all, rubbish was flying out of the river and the day began.

We were joined by two new volunteers who can come armed with powerful magnets on the end of rope – using them to fish out metals from the river! I don’t know whether it was thanks to these magnets, or a coincidence, but we found a lot of random bits of metal on the river this time.

As we worked up the river, the famous coconut was found:

And trug after trug of plastic rubbish was pulled from the river, put in bags and carried to the dump site.

By lunch time, the rubbish pile was taking shape and we were all ready for a sit down and a cup of tea. A huge thanks to Leah and the other students for baking such lovely treats for everyone.

After lunch, everyone got back in the river to finish off the last 50 m to the next bridge and Derek did a spot of river shopping:

So what did we find?  1 pet cage, 1 coconut, 1 road sign, 1 badminton racket, 1 kids car, 1 bike tyre, 1 car bumper, 1 elephant mask, 1 safe, 1 shopping basket, 1 tyre swing, 1 plastic table, 1 empty drill box, 1 traffic cone, 1 shopping trolley, 1 bicycle, 10 tyres, 40 metal poles and 80 bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me back at the garage, the students for baking such yummy treats 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, Adam, Andy, Charles, Chiara, Chris, Chris, Christine, Connor, Dave J, Dave W, David H, David S, Derek, Emily, Geoffrey, Gideon, Guy, Jane, Joe, John L, John N, Leah, Lisa, Luke, Lynda, Marcus, Mark, Martina, Megan, Mohamad, Naah, Pamela, Penny, Per, Phil, Raphael, Robert, Rose, Ruby, Steve , Tom, Tony, Wally, Wayne and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Be quick so I don’t miss out on cake!

Wandle cleanup: September 2017: Merton

The one where we ran out of rubbish

While it is fun to have a monthly cleanup with a mammoth pile of rubbish at the end of it, it is also nice to know in some places we are making a real difference. Yesterday, at Ravensbury Park, we saw just that – our work had made a difference.

We gathered in the park at 11am with 80+ people (regular volunteers, new faces, Friends of Ravensbury Park, 13th Wimbledon Scouts and Richmond University) and hatched a plan of what we could tackle as a team.

Two wading teams departed, 1 to clear rubbish from the Wandle and the other to tackle the floating pennywort in Ravensbury Park Lake and adjoining back channel. The river team were accompanied by a strong bank team as it was a long way back to the rubbish pile (600 m) and everyone else grabbed a litter picker and went to spruce up the park. And with that, 80 people went to work!

The pennywort team focused on the lake and back channel. For the past 10 + years, Ravensbury Park Lake has been smothered by pennywort, and each September we have helped the friends of group clear it, for it only to grow again.

The lake in previous years

But the end is finally in sight. Our Wandle INNS Project has been working over the last year on the site to properly clear the lake and when we returned on Sunday, the lake was open water, with small patches of pennywort at the side. Perfect!

The lake on Sunday – with just a few small patches left for us to remove

We asked a team of 6 volunteers to wade into the lake and remove these small patches. Meanwhile, another team tackled the back channel downstream of the lake which was still smothered. Once a net was in place downstream, this pennywort was removed by hand and the channel was free once more. Success!

While this was going on, our river team were making quick progress in the main channel. It wasn’t like some of our events where trolleys and washing machines are flying out of the river, but that didn’t mean there was no rubbish at all. We found tyres, toilet seats and for sale signs..

As well as Christmas trees and toy cars

And lots of other junk and rubbish.

With lunch fast approaching, I started to gather the troops in from throughout the park. And that is when we found the mattress…

The mattress was in Ravensbury Park Lake – a site which hasn’t been checked for rubbish over the last 10 years as it has been full of pennywort. But with that under control, Andy discovered a very old mattress that was full of silt and extremely heavy.

It took a lot of people to pull it on to the bank, and then we had to divide it in to smaller chunks to transport all the way to the rubbish pile.

After that excitement, everyone was ready for a break and so we stopped for tea and coffee.

With the pennywort sorted, the river cleared and the park litter-picked, we had a slightly longer lunch break than usual and then called it a day well spent!

So what did we find?  1 silty, sodden mattress, 1 bike, 1 lawnmower cover, 1 toilet seat, 1 plastic chair, 1 Christmas tree, 1 ride-along car, 1 scooter, 1 laundry basket, 1 dustbin, 2 for sale signs, 3 plastic boxes, 4 sofa cushions, 7 tyres, a channel of floating pennywort and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me back at the garage, Friends of Ravensbury Park for joining us for the joint event 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:   Aarti, Andy, Bonnie, Charles, Chris, Claire, Cohhot, Daniel, Dave , David , Derek, Freya, Geoff, Gideon, Gurnoor, Guy, Hannah, Henrik, Ian, Jackie, Jane, Joe, John B, John C, Jordyn, Juan, Julian, Lorenzo, Lukas, Lyn, Martina, Mickey, Miriah, Nick, Paola, Paul, Per, Phil, Piero, Priya, Rob, Rolanas, Rose, Saihal, Sam, Sarah, Scott, Sheila, Spencer, Steve, Stewart, Valerie, Wally, Wayne, Will D and Will W. Plus 30+ 13th Wimbledon Scouts!

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? We are slowly winning the battle against fly tipping!

Wandle cleanup: August 2017: Merton

The one with Nick Hale…

Apologies for the slight delay with our August cleanup blog – but we went from the cleanup straight to some river restoration in Morden Hall Park – it’s been a busy couple of weeks! You’ll be able to read about that adventure soon, but on with the cleanup…

August saw us return to Waterside Way in Wimbledon. This site is still full of rubbish and will be a regular site for some time to come considering how little distance we manage to cover each time. We were joined this month by Nick Hale, another Wandle Trust Project Officer who came along to experience our famous cleanups. After the usual health and safety briefing, we got stuck in.

The waders got in the river just upstream of where we finished back in March. As they filled their first trug load, my team on the bank were getting bored, waiting for something to do. I suggested they enjoyed the peace while it lasted – this was Waterside Way, after all!

And like clockwork, trug after trug was filled and the bank team soon missed the easy start they had.

The first large find was a lorry/bus tyre, shortly followed by 5 other car tyres.

Next, a bicycle was found. Not in great condition, but as Nick still doesn’t have a bike for his London to Brighton cycle ride (raising money for the Wandle, you can sponsor him here), it might be the best he’s gonna get!

A few minutes later, I was given perhaps the creepiest gift from the Wandle yet – this doll.

After a quick lunch break, we moved further upstream, but only by 10 or so metres. Here we found the classic coconut.

Some toys, including a scooter and steering wheel

And some large carpets which were extremely heavy as we pulled them up the bank.

After 4 hours of hard work, we finally called it a day and packed up the van.

So what did we find?  1 licence plate, 1 Frozen scooter, 1 road barrier, 1 moped pannier, 1 dashboard, 1 lighting rig, 1 bike, 1 creepy doll, 1 cassette tape, 1 lorry tyre, 1 traffic cone, 1 disposable BBQ, 2 coconuts, 2 stereos, 2 large carpets, 3 toy cars, 5 car mats, 5 tyres, lots and lots of miscellaneous fabric and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me and Nick back at the garage, and the Waste Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

A a big thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Abdul, Andy, Beth, Carlos, Charles, Christine, Claire, David H, David S, Derek, Freya, Geoff, Gideon, Guy, Jane, Joanne, John N, Kathy, Keith, Lisa, Mark B, Melanie, Nick, Paul, Phil, Rob, Rose, Sheila, Steve B, Stewart, Sue, Thomas, Wally and Will.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Waterside Way is going to take us a while to clear…

Wandle cleanup: July 2017: Sutton

The one with the rotting salmon…

Our July Wandle cleanup saw us heading to a site we hadn’t been to in four years and one month – Goat Road!

We set our tent up on Watermead Lane and waited patiently as 48 people gathered round ready for the start of the day. We were joined by around 20 young’uns from 5th Morden Cub Scouts, as well as Gary Hunt, chairman of the CATCH urban river group in Somerset, who also came along to share ideas.

So with everyone gathered, I gave my Health & Safety talk and we got started.

Our waders headed to tackle the river upstream of Goat Road. Although this section of river looked beautiful and the perfect chalkstream – it wasn’t long until rubbish was found.

A chimney was our first find, but that was soon overshadowed by the rest of the rubbish that was pulled out!

A go kart…

Computer chair and wooden pallets…


And a mannequin’s arm!

Soon the rubbish pile was huge.

In the undergrowth around the river, and in the smaller channel around the mills, there was a lot of litter too. Luckily we had the scouts on hand to help us!

Just before lunch, 10 boxes of rotting salmon were discovered in the side channel and removed by some brave volunteers – the smell lasted all day.

We stopped for lunch to have a rest – as it was hard work in the sun. But as always, knowing there was more rubbish to be found, the waders were soon heading up to Buckhurst Avenue for the next session.

While we waited on the bridge for the waders to emerge from behind the factories on the Buckhurst Avenue stretch, we used the grappling hook to fish out a bicycle we could see in the water. It took a few attempts but we got it in the end.

Three trolleys were soon pulled out once the waders arrived.

And a burned-out moped was found abandoned in the undergrowth.

After a long day we packed up the van and headed home.

So what did we find?  1 chimney, 1 go kart, 1 armchair, 1 sofa, 1 computer chair, 1 lawnmower back, 1 moped, 1 manikin arm, 2 golf clubs, 2 rubber ducks, 2 coconuts, 3 traffic cones, 4 trolleys, 4 wooden pallets, 4 bicycles, 10 boxes of rotting salmon, 12 tyres and bags and bags and bags of other rubbish!

Huge thanks to local volunteer Jackie for kindly funding this event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent  and for helping me back at the garage, Sally for baking some treats, and the Parks Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Ahamefull, Alex, Andy B, Ben, Beth, Bruce, Charles, Chris E, Chris F, CJ, Dave J, David H, Declan, Derek, Edgar, Frank, Freddie, Gary, Geoff, Gillian, Guy, Helen, Irene, Jackie, James B, James E, Jane, Joe, John L, John N, Joshua, Kathy, Kim, Marcus, Martina, Massimo, Mathew, Max, Melanie, Nick, Paul, Per, Phil, Rachel, Rose, Sally, Sheila, Shivani, Steve, Susan, Theo, Wally, Will and Zach.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? There really are salmon in the Wandle, they’re just in catering boxes…

Introducing the new Wandle Invasive Species Action Plan

Our Wandle Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Project has reached an exciting stage – the launch of the new Wandle INNS Action Plan.

The Wandle INNS Project is part of the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, and has been running since April 2015 with our INNS Officer, Alan Martin, at the steering wheel.

Over the last two years, Alan has spent a lot of time out on the Wandle getting up close and personal with INNS such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Floating Pennywort and Giant Hogweed. These BIG FOUR have been the primary focus of the INNS Project as they are well-established on the Wandle and pose risks to wildlife and the local community.

From his time in the field, Alan has concluded the most effective control/management methods for these plants, and has written an updated INNS Action Plan for the Wandle. This plan is available to all, showcasing recommended control methods for INNS on the Wandle, INNS ID guidance, INNS biology and lots of other useful stuff.

The plan also includes a new online map of INNS records for the Wandle, collected by our trained River Rangers.

Our River Rangers have been trained to identify invasive plants and monitor the Wandle roughly 4 times a year. If you are interested in joining this team, the more the merrier, just email Polly on

The data our River Rangers collect for us has been included in the INNS Action Plan to help us map out how INNS on the Wandle can be managed over the next 8 years.

The Key:

The plan was presented to major landowners and stakeholders (including the local councils, National Trust and London Wildlife Trust) at an INNS Must Out Workshop in February this year. Here everyone signed up to help deliver the plan. A very positive outcome for INNS on the Wandle.

Here at the Wandle Trust, we have signed up to help kick start the action on the ground, working with our volunteer River Rangers and newly appointed Hit Squad. The next few blogs will show you all we have been up to and the difference the project is making to the Wandle.

Wandle Cleanup: June 2017: Wandsworth

The one with my favorite find…

For our Wandle cleanup this month, we answered local pleas to revisit Trewint Street in Earlsfield and clear some recent fly-tipping that had shocked the local neighbours.

On a sunny Sunday, 59 volunteers joined us at Trewint Street, including 1st Homefield Cub Scouts and the rugby players from Bec Old Boys Club; all ready to get stuck in.

Within what felt like two seconds of finishing the Health & Safety briefing, there was already a washing machine being pulled up the concrete bank. It took some considerable muscle and cooperation, but it was safely pulled up and used to start our rubbish pile.

After the washing machine, rubbish came flooding in, faster than I could keep track of.

We found several children’s bikes..

…an airplane which is perhaps my favourite find since starting to run cleanups in 2014!

A motorbike (with another 2 to follow!)

Before it was even lunchtime, the rubbish pile was piled high!

But before I could get everyone out of the river, our waders found themselves a challenge to deal with – a piece of railway (or maybe half a castle door?)

This wooden structure weighed a considerable amount and walking it upstream under the bridge was a challenge enough, let alone pulling in up the concrete bank. But with sheer dedication and muscle, we prevailed.

A couple more finds before lunch included a Santander bike by the Homefield Cubs!

and half of another washing machine.

By lunchtime, we were all exhausted and ready for some cake. However, not all of us could resist trying out some of the toys we had found…

Having achieved so much in the morning, we decided the afternoon would be shorter. One small team followed the Homefield cubs down the Wandle Trail to a motorbike they had discovered earlier in the morning.

Meanwhile, the wading team did one final check of the area around the bridge and found me a dinosaur which is now pride of place in the bathroom:

Before everyone collapsed with exhaustion, we called it a day. If you looked at the pile though, you would have assumed we had been working for more than just 3 hours!

So what did we find?  1 rubber dingy and oars, 1 airplane with wheels, 1 radiator, 1 Santander bike, 1 fan, 1 Thomas the tank engine, 1 dinosaur (now rehomed in Polly’s dinosaur-themed flat), 1 railway structure, 1 washing basket, 1 bunny, 1 wheel clamp, 1.5 washing machines, 2 blankets, 2 mattresses, 2 traffic cones, 2 tyres, 3 motorbikes, 4 children scooters, 5 children’s bikes, 6 buckets, planks and planks of wood (fencing, furniture and more) and bags and bags and bags and bags of rubbish! We also pulled a fair amount of Himalayan balsam – as if we hadn’t worked hard enough!

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and for helping me back at the garage, 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, Abigail, Adrien, Alan, Andrea, Andrew D, Andrew R, Andy, Brody, Carter, Charles, Charlotte, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Ed B, Ed H, Ed S, Geoff, Guy, Harry, Howard, Ivan, Jason, Joanna, Lisa, Liz, Luca, Lucile, Luke, Lynda, Martina, Maxwell, Michael, Miles, Nick, Nicola, Oliver, Per, Pete, Phil, Richard, Rory, Rose, Sally, Sam, Sarah, Sheila, Stephanie, Steve B, Steve M, Theo, Wally, Will and William.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? Chinese mitten crabs are living in the Wandle at Trewint Street!