Tag Archives: Sutton

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: 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.

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!

 

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…

Carpet…

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…

Warning: highly invasive aquatic plant, New Zealand pigmyweed, found on the Wandle

There has never been a more important time for every user on the River Wandle to Check, Clean, Dry – we have discovered New Zealand pigmyweed on the Wandle!

New Zealand pigmyweed, Crassula helmsii, is a highly invasive aquatic plant introduced to the UK in the 1900s as an ornamental “oxygenating plant” for ponds. It is thought to have escaped to the wild naturally (transported by wildfowl moving between ponds) or as ponds/aquaria were emptied out into nearby rivers.

Where would we find it?

New Zeland pigmyweed grows in still water, such as ponds or lakes, and also in slow moving waters like canals. It can even form dense colonies on damp mud and could therefore colonise marginal and impounded areas of the Wandle, and many of the backwater habitats.

Where is it in on the Wandle?

Currently, the only known New Zealand pigmyweed colony is in a small pond in Hackbridge / Beddington where it was discovered during our recent Wandle cleanup, highlighted on the map below.

Why is it bad?

New Zealand pigmyweed forms dense mats on the surface of the water, and up to 3 m under the water. These mats can shade out other plants below, resulting in a decline in oxygen in the water which has negative effects on invertebrates, frogs, newts and fish.

Much like floating pennywort, New Zealand pigmyweed can hinder recreational activities such as angling, by creating impenetrable “carpets” across open water bodies.

Finally, the control and eradication of this plant is very difficult. We are unlucky to have it, but lucky that we have discovered it with only one colony! In many other catchments where it has become established, water seems to have disappeared from the landscape.

Manchester Airport Pond, Photo Credit: Paul Breslin

What can I do to help stop the spread?

Avoid the pond! The pond where we have discovered the plant is not currently used for recreational purposes and ideally this would remain the case. For example, if you walk dogs in the area, please make sure they don’t go for a dip in this pond, as they could easily then transport it to wherever they next go for a swim. The plant can grow from tiny fragments that you might not even spot, so it is better to be safe than sorry!

Be vigilant! We believe (and hope!) this is the only case of New Zealand pigmyweed on the Wandle. However if you are out and about and believe you see the plant, please get in touch with us so we can come and investigate. You can call Polly on 07833 497 599 or email her at polly.bryant@wandletrust.org

Check, Clean, Dry! Finally if you are an angler on the river, or a use the river in another way such as canoeing, please make sure you are following biosecurity procedures such as Check, Clean, Dry. This will not only help reduce the risk of spread of New Zealand pigmyweed, but also the spread of other INNS and potential new INNS to the Wandle from other rivers.

Calling Wandle shoppers: Help us fund Wandle cleanups with your vote at Tesco

Do you live in Wandsworth? Or perhaps the Sutton area? Do you buy your food and other shopping from your local Tesco store?

If so, you could help us to raise up to £8,000 in funding for future Wandle cleanups!

Two of our recent applications to the Tesco Bags of Help fund – Spring Clean in Sutton, and Wandsworth for the Wandle – have been successful, and now you and other local residents can help decide how much funding these projects get, with £4,000 available at each store.

Throughout May and June, until voting closes on 30th June, you will be able to vote for your favourite project in one of the local Tesco stores on the map below. If Wandle cleanups get the most votes, we will be awarded £8,000 to continue funding them for 2017 and 2018!

wandle-cleanups-2016Our cleanups make a big difference to the river. In 2016 alone we removed 47 tonnes of rubbish, clearing 4.4 km of the Wandle. So we really need this additional financial support to purchase new equipment and run the events through 2017 and 2018.

What is the Tesco Bags of Help fund?

Tesco has teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme, which sees grants of £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – all raised from the 5p plastic bag levy – being awarded to local community projects.

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of revenue generated from the 5p charge levied on single-use carrier bags. Members of the public will be able to vote in store during May and June to decide which projects should receive the £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 awards.

How can you help?

You can help in two ways:

  1. Cast your own vote! The Tesco stores which are holding votes for Wandsworth and Sutton are shown on the map above. Please vote for our Wandle cleanups and help clean up the Wandle in your local area.
  1. Help us spread the word! Share this blog and let your friends and neighbours know that the vote is open until June 30th. Encourage them to shop in their local Tesco store in Wandsworth or Sutton, and cast their vote for Wandle cleanups in 2017 and 2018.

Thank you for your support in helping us to carry on running Wandle cleanups!

Cleanups

Wandle cleanup: April 2017: Sutton

The BIG one

The organisation of our April cleanup was big as we had grand ambitions. We aimed to clean the river from Grove Park, all the way to the top of Culvers Island, covering over 2000 m of the Wandle.

To achieve this we needed a large number of volunteers. Luckily, we were gifted with sunny weather, and with a local 50th birthday joining us, we were not disappointed as 50 people met us at Hackbridge Road Bridge.

To tackle the 2000 m we divided into two teams, one led by Andy, and the other by Theo. After the Health & Safety briefing, and division of equipment, the two teams set off.

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Andy’s team headed down the Wandle to the northern end of Culvers Island and started working up the right hand branch of the river. To start with, rubbish was slow to find and our people wading made quick progress. The token coconut was retrieved from the river, along with 3 bike frames with the wheels missing.

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In no time, the team were at the halfway point at Culvers Avenue. Here, a large pile of fly tipped rubbish was spotted on the other side of the river. Given we had the luxury of numbers, and we didn’t want the rubbish to end up in the Wandle, we got started moving the pile to our agreed collection site.

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Local neighbours were so happy to see the fly tipped rubbish removed, they came out and gave us ice cold drinks and bottles of water as a thank you – given the heat of the day this was much appreciated!

With the tip removed, we got back in the river and headed towards the lunch site at Hackbridge Bridge.

Meanwhile, Theo’s team had been working hard on the Carshalton arm of the river. Helped by Derek and other volunteers from London Wildlife Trust’s Wilderness Island nature reserve, we worked steadily upstream, clearing litter from the dragons’ teeth and other habitat features which we’d previously installed in this stretch.

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By lunch time we were all gasping for a drink so we reunited at the event tent where Rosie had water, squash and cake ready for us. As it was Clare’s 50th, we were also treated to extra food including strawberries, grapes and Easter cakes baked by the students from Richmond University.

After re-fuelling, the teams headed out again to finish what they had started.

Andy’s team headed back to the north of Culvers Island to tackle the left hand side of the river while Theo’s team got back in at Butter Hill to continue up to Grove Park.

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It was a huge effort from all and we hope we left the Wandle in Sutton a little clearer and rubbish free.

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The next Wandle Cleanup will be on Sunday 14th May in Beddington Park where we will also be tackling Himayalan balsam!

So what did we find?  1 golf ball, 1 bike wheel, 1 sun hat, 1 flat pack wardrobe, 1 flat pack chest of drawers, 1 large section of roofing felt, 1 window, 1 hoover, 1 scooter, 1 traffic cone, 1 mobile phone, 1 bouncing ball, 1 concrete bathroom wall (we think), 1 umbrella, 3 bikes with wheels intact, 2.5 coconuts, 3 bike frames without wheels, 4 guttering pieces, half of a plastic Christmas tree, bags and bags of rubble from the fly tip and bags and bags of cans, bottles and other rubbish.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and helping me back at the garage, the students from Richmond University for baking some treats, and the Waste Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Andy, Ann, Charles, Chris, Claire, Dave, David, Derek C, Derek P, Doris, Ed, Guy, Jackie, John N, John S, Mike, Phil, Sally, Steve, Stewart, Theo, Trevor, Victor and Wally. The sign in sheet from this event has gone missing in the garage so if you joined us and don’t see your name above, please let us know so we can add you!  You can comment here or email cleanups@wandletrust.org.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup? That people really do appreciate what we do – and thank us with ice cold drinks!

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Wandle cleanup: February 2017: Sutton

The one where the waders were the warmest

Love was in the air, rubbish was in the river, it was time for the Wandle Trust Valentine’s Cleanup!

This month we returned to Poulter Park in Sutton on a very cold February morning. The park has always provided an impressive cleanup haul, with 200 tyres back in 2015 and 5 industrial freezers in 2016. So we couldn’t wait to see what the Wandle had for us this Valentine’s.

After the usual health and safety briefing, we got started. The waders divided into two teams: one to tackle the main river and one to head to Watermead Lane to tackle a faster flowing stretch of water which always gathers rubbish.

To begin with, it seemed like the river was fairly clean. The waders were taking a while to fill their trugs, and we were getting increasingly cold on the banks. It turns out it was warmer in the river, but it didn’t half smell bad!

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Eventually we started to find rubbish: tyres (not 200 thankfully), a steering wheel and a BBQ.

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In the depths of the silt, an oil drum was found. It took quite a few of us to get it up on the bank, and then we had to let some of the silt out before we had the strength to get it to the path and to the rubbish pile.

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In the undergrowth, the students from Richmond University found a stash of wooden planks. With keen eyes, they also discovered two motorbikes that had been burnt in the undergrowth.

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As lunchtime came around we were all freezing cold and ready for a cup of tea. The Richmond University students had baked for us again, and they put on an amazing Valentines’-themed spread. We had heart shaped cookies, ladybird biscuits, red velvet cupcakes and chocolate muffins!

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Even with cups of tea and coffee, standing around in the bitter north-east wind was only making us colder, so we got back to work very quickly. The long-distance wading team had returned with a car seat, and had assembled a pile of rubbish including money safes, a fridge and 3 more tyres before they rejoined the main party.

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Our waders continued through the park finding 3 coconuts – classic!

A nice cup of concrete to warm me up..

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And a mystery object that was buried so deep in the silt that even Phil had to give up on it. And Phil never gives up….

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Finally, we found a chimney stack and we were done for the day!

So what did we find? 1 wheelchair, 1 BBQ, 1 oil drum, 1 set of wooden steps, 1 carpet (that I saw, probably more), 1 car seat, 1 chimney stack, 1 dustbin lid, 1 pram frame, 1 steering wheel, 1 fridge, 1 car wheel clamp, 2 burnt motorbikes/scooters, 2 mattresses, 3 coconuts, 4 footballs, 8 tyres and 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, Wally for supervising the Event Tent, the Students at Richmond University for baking, and the Waste Team at Sutton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming:  Aaron, Andy, Ann, Chris, Claire, Dalana, Dave, Derek, Emma, Estella, Florence, Guy, Hannah, Ian, James, Joe, Kaitlyn, Kathy, Leah, Macie, Marcus, Mariam, Nick, Phil, Rob, Sally, Steve, Stewart, Theo, Tim, Tom, Victor, Wally, Wayne, Will and Zak.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That sometimes, 3 pairs of socks, 1 long sleeved vest, 2 jumpers, a fleece and my knitted hat, is not enough to stay warm!

New Project: Discovering the Source of the Wandle

The Wandle Trust is embarking on an exciting new project to research and understand the source of the river and how it has moved over time.

River Wandle

The River Wandle, Beddington Park in early spring

What is the source of the Wandle?

The source of the River Wandle is found where two rocks – chalk and clay – meet. This occurs in our local area along an east to west to line starting in Croydon, going through Wallington and Carshalton to Esher.

Geological Map of Surrey

A simplified geological map of North East Surrey

Chalk makes up the North Downs, shown in light blue on our simplified map. Chalk has the capacity to allow water to flow through it so when rain falls it soaks into the rock as if it’s a sponge. As a result the water builds up within the chalk to create huge underground reservoirs called aquifers.

Overlaying the chalk is clay – shown in dark blue on our simplified map. Unlike chalk, clay does not allow water to flow through it. As a result rainfall flows across the surface of the clay rather than flowing down in to it.

Our east-west line marks where the chalk and the clay meet. Along this line any water held in the chalk aquifer is forced to come to the surface, creating the spring sources we know and love on the Wandle.

Waddon Mills

How does the source of a river move?

The sources of the River Wandle has changed its position over time.

One theory suggests that the River Wandle once started near the village of Merstham in Surrey (south of the M25!) but was ‘captured’ by the River Mole. This is going back to the time when the climate was a lot colder than it is today – back in the Ice Age when mammoths were strolling around your back garden.

We do know from the shape of the North Downs – (the hills that now separate Merstham from Carshalton and Croydon) – that they have been shaped by water action. Look at the ‘dry valleys’ around Woodmansterne, Coulsdon and Caterham.

Dry Valley

Happy Valley near Farthing Downs, Coulsdon showing a typical ‘dry valley’ on the North Downs

Back in the Ice Age the climate was very different to what we have today…

Imagine where we live today looking more like the Alaskan tundra – sub-zero temperatures, freezing cold arctic winds and most importantly frozen ground. The chalk, which today allows water to flow through it, was then permanently frozen (called permafrost). When snow and ice melted in the summer, the rocks and soil could not allow the water to flow down through them. The water flowed across the land surface instead, and eroded the ‘dry valleys’ we can still see today.

But the story doesn’t end there – because we’re all still having an effect on the position of the Wandle’s spring line.

People use water. Where does our water come from? From those underground aquifers of water caught inside the chalk.

As there are now more and more people using more and more water, it is being taken out of those underground reserves. What happens next? Instead of water bubbling out all along our west-east line in many places the springs have simply dried up as water is ‘over abstracted’ from the underground aquifer.

People have also built houses, roads and factories. As a result our east-west line has disappeared under concrete – the river is now flowing underground under all this stuff.

Go to Wandle Park in Croydon and you can see efforts to bring the River Wandle back to the surface where it was previously culverted under the park.

Wandle Park, Croydon

An Autumn Scene – The River Wandle in Wandle Park, Croydon

So we know that the source of the River Wandle has changed over time, and is still continuing to change – some of these changes are natural (ice age, permafrost, mammoths) whilst others are not (abstraction and concrete).

Will it change in the future? Who knows? Very likely, some would say – our population of people is likely to increase, so we’re going to need more houses and roads and need more water. We think too that the climate is changing – what impact will this bring to the source of our local river?

Who remembers the floods in Purley back in 2014? Is this a sign of the future?

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Discovering the Source of the Wandle – The Project

The Wandle Trust will work with local volunteers to research the source of the River Wandle and how it has changed over time – this will include using archived material, geological maps, photographic evidence and oral histories. The project will use resources in libraries and other local sources.

How can you help?

Contact Project Officer David Gill to show your interest. Let him know your particular areas of interest and any areas of relevant skills and knowledge you might possess.

David can be contacted at david.gill@wandletrust.org or you can call his mobile on 07468 529 312.

Do keep looking for updates on our Wandle website (www.wandletrust.org) and Twitter: #DiscovertheSource

The project is funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership, a Heritage Lottery Funded scheme aims to bring people closer to their local river.

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