Wandle Cleanup: March 2019: Wandsworth

Our March river cleanup took place in King George’s Park, Wandsworth. We visited this site back in December and the area still appeared to be reasonably clean, which is a positive sign of the impact of our work.

After a night of heavy rain and continued strong winds the river was not suitable for wading – fast current and well above waist height for most of us. However, we had 46 happy volunteers turn up for litter picking along the banks. In doing this valuable work, they are preventing lots of pieces of litter entering the waterway.

We started the day with the usual welcome talk and health and safety briefing. It was great to see a few newbies eager to get involved as well as all our regulars keen as ever.

The majority of the rubbish was small pieces of litter such as food wrappers and packaging. The beady eyes of our volunteers helped them pick up even the smallest pieces of rubbish, however the wind proved a challenge for keeping it in the bags. We also removed plastic bags and cloths tangled amongst brambles and tree roots.

Around 12:30pm we took a break for lunch and hot drinks – huge thanks to Rosie for managing the refreshments. As the river condition had not improved for wading and most of the litter had been cleared during the morning, we decided to stop for the day and let everyone enjoy their Sunday afternoon.

Great work everyone – look how much we removed!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the April cleanup. Fingers crossed for fine weather and wading!


Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, those who supervised the Event Tent, Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment and to our funders, the National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Martin, Guy, Clare, Joseph, Jess, Nyssa, Billy, Jessica, John, Davina, Mia, Zhen, Errol, Dave, Derek, Aaron, Stefan, Nally, Rosie, Robert, Nick, Andy, Simon, William, Margaret, Kyle, David, Libby, Will, Charles, Amanda, Alexis, Steve, Jason, Nick, Rob, Caroline, Phil, Paul, Phil, Per, Chris, James, Natalie, Jane, Jamie.

Wandle Cleanup: February 2019: Merton

Our February river cleanup took place in Wandle Park, Merton. This month’s cleanup was a little different from usual; combining litter picking, fly-tipping removal and tackling floating pennywort.

Floating pennywort is an invasive non-native plant species. This means the species was introduced to the area and is causing harm to the naturally occurring life in the river. Pennywort can be easily seen floating on the surface of the river like little kidney-shaped lily pads. It causes a range of problems including changing the availability of oxygen in the water, threatening fish and invertebrates, choking drainage systems and crowding out native water plants. With this in mind, we thought it would be best to get in early and remove the pennywort before spring arrives.

Luckily we had 52 lovely volunteers turn up to lend a hand!

The day began with the welcome talk and health and safety briefing before splitting the group into litter pickers and pennywort removers.

There was some excellent team work going on in the river as pennywort was pulled and removed, then wheeled away.

Most of the litter was likely a result of park users and included bottles, drinks cans, food packaging and footballs.

Around 12:30pm we took a break for lunch. Shout out to the Richmond University Great British Bake Off Group and Per’s wife for all the delicious baked goods; and Rosie and Wally for manning the refreshment tent ensuring everyone warmed up with hot drinks.

After lunch, our volunteers headed back into the river. Many of the litter pickers had sought out a few hotspots of litter which they cleared up. Top finds were a plastic palm tree and several plastic Christmas trees.

Dave had set up a catch net at the start of the day to prevent any drifting pennywort fragments from floating downstream. As a final job before packing up, this was emptied and removed.

All our volunteers should be extremely proud of their effort and work as the river looked much clearer and the flow had increased. On top of removing the pennywort, look at how much litter was also collected – great work!

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the March cleanup!


Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, those who baked and those who supervised the Event Tent, Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment and to our funders, Merton Council and the National Lottery Communtiy Fund.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Lynda, Champior, Joanna, Davinay, Tom, Grant, Billy, Jihyun, Phil, Derek, Per, Charles, Chris, James, Steve, Becky, Gareth, Martin, David, Andy, Paul, Nicholas, Robert, Tony, Jess, Chris, James, Simon, William, Nyssa, Pontus, Lauren, Jacob, Nicholas, Jenny, Sue, Anita, Philomenia, Sanner, Hazjq, Hassan, Jane, Rosie, Margaret, Kyle, Wally, Dave, Milan, Aaron, Gideon, Erica and Ed.

Wandle Cleanup: January 2019: Sutton

Happy New Year to you all.

For the first cleanup of 2019 we visited Poulter Park in Sutton – and what a great start to the year it was.

We began the day with our Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing, important for all, especially our newcomers; 38 volunteers in total.

The results of recent fly tipping by Goat Bridge had been noticed by a few volunteers on arrival, so we decided to send a some of our well-practised volunteers to clear this site. Meanwhile, the rest of us headed down to the river with waders, litter pickers and bin bags to begin clearing the water and banks. We worked upstream to the weir.

Many of our long-standing volunteers remembered clearing several hundred car tyres from this stretch of river a few years ago so there was no surprise at all as more started rolling out of the water. Luckily not anywhere near as many.

We found several chairs, too – probably a little too soggy to sit on now!

There was also one unknown but heavy object on the river bed that proved a little too much for volunteers, try as they might!

It took some convincing to get everyone out of the water for lunch, but eventually we made it back up to the gazebo for tea, coffee and cake.

After lunch we decided to do a second sweep of the river as either side of our entry point and the weir the river can get a little deep. It was surprising how much more we could pull out.

Today’s finds also included lots of toys which have been added to our collection for the Museum of London.

Finishing up around 2:30pm we stood back to admire our haul.

So what did we find? 16 car tyres, 5 chairs, 1 bike, a scary looking doll, a suitcase, car headlights

Looking forward to seeing everyone at the February cleanup!


Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, those who supervised the Event Tent, Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day ,Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment and to our funders, the Big Lottery.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Dave, Phil, Luke, Raphael, Lynda, Sheila, Phil, Gideon, Steve, Martin, Stewart, Guy, Joe, An, Dean, Jamie, Will, Andy, Per, Chris, Nicholas, Rob, Connor, Matt, Rosie, Rob, Charles, William, Alex, Thidare, Derek, Aaron

Wandle Cleanup: December 2018: Wandsworth

For the last cleanup of 2018, we headed to King George’s Park in Wandsworth.

This was our first cleanup funded by our fantastic new funders the Big Lottery. Thanks to all the players of the National Lottery that make funding great projects and activities like our Wandle cleanups possible. We couldn’t do it without you!

We started off the day with the usual Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. We then cracked on with wading and litter picking around the banks.

Despite the windy weather, we had 31 merry volunteers – so thank you to everyone who managed to make it at this busy (and cold) time of year!

We removed as much litter as possible from the river, getting to all the tangled plastic bags in the river bed and surrounding vegetation. We found a trolley filled with empty cans that had been dumped into the river and pulled that out easily.

We stopped for lunch around 1pm and enjoyed some well-deserved mince pies and other Christmas cakes. We also squeezed in a Christmas Wandle-themed quiz, reflecting on the good work throughout 2018!

We couldn’t wade much further downstream after lunch as the river was too deep and fast-flowing. Instead, we did a second sweep of the river and found more rubbish that the river had uncovered since our first sweep.

It was getting a bit too chilly and there wasn’t much left to litter pick, so we finished early and headed home for Christmas. 

Here is the final rubbish pile!

So what did we find? 2 tyres, 2 mattresses, a trolley, a pushchair, an old kettle, a wooden pallet, 2 footballs, a traffic cone, lots of bottle, cans and plastic bags. 

I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I look forward to keeping up the great work with everyone in 2019!


Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event (in particular Dave, Joe and Chris), Rosie and Wally for supervising the Event Tent, Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment and to our funders, the Big Lottery.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Charles, Michael, Victoria, Thea, Jonathan, Rosalie, Ed, Joe, Phil, Dave, Paul, Jenny, Nick, Jason, Kesra, Rose, Andy, Eddie, Chris, Martin, Per, Phil, David, Steve, Korab, Wayne, Jane, Simon, William and Guy.

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, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment 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, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment 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.


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, Big Yellow Wandsworth for providing free storage space for our equipment, 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