Tag Archives: Views from the Wandle

Wandle cleanup: December 2015: King George’s Park

The one with the return of Miss Evans…

The year has gone very fast indeed and before we knew it, the last cleanup of 2015 was upon us. For December we went to King Georges Park in Wandsworth. With the Event Tent decked with tinsel and my reindeer antlers on, I was joined by 30 volunteers on a chilly Sunday morning. After the usual Health & Safety briefing we got started, with half of us getting in the river and the other half working from the banks.

Within 10 minutes, a bicycle had been sighted, collected and placed on the start of the rubbish pile by Santa. An excellent start.

River Santa

While on the banks we were discussing Christmas shopping, and how far behind we all were, with the idea that maybe the Wandle could be our solution? Although I imagine we’d be less than impressed if Santa’s sack really was filled with soggy gifts from the Wandle. Olaf flip flop anyone?

Olaf Flip Flop

To distract us all from the cold, we became magpies, closely inspecting what we were pulling out of the Wandle, looking for some special Christmas finds. I discovered this old style Fanta can which no one else seemed quite as excited about..

Fanta Can

We found the usual coconut…

Classic Coconut

As well as what we believe was a Nativity scene Mary, minus the head…


By 1pm, we were all ready for a cup of tea to warm up and to try some of Ann’s carrot cake which she kindly made for us all. Much to our delight, we were visited by a Christmas Angel during lunch – Erica Evans! As lots of our volunteers will remember, Erica organised our Wandle cleanups for many years and happened to be visiting London this weekend, so she thought she’d pay us a visit!

We didn’t stop for long with the chilly weather, and so back in the river we went. The waders continued upstream to the next bridge, clearing over 300m of river. Some afternoon finds included:

This metal chair, which I have been informed is a welding chair.

Welding Chair

This brightly coloured figurine which I was told was a Shirdi Buba (learning lots at this cleanup)


And some large heavy shed roof sheets which had absorbed so much water they were a real challenge to get out so late in the day. Trust Derek to find something just as we were finishing up!

Wooden Board

Last year 518 volunteers pulled out 8.5 tonnes of rubbish from the Wandle, donating 2012 hours of their time to the cause. Have we beaten this for 2015? Stayed tuned over the Christmas break to find out!

So what did we find?  1 frisbee, 1 motorbike dashboard, 1 Olaf flip flop, 1 railway sleeper, 1 70” record, 1 radio, 1 television, 1 vintage Fanta can, 1 sun lounger, 1 welding chair, 1 generic chair, 2 bicycles, 4 pillows, 5 tyres, 5 umbrellas, lots of wire and bags and bags of other junk.

The Rubbish Pile!

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann for catering for our volunteers (cheese scones and carrot cake!), Wally for supervising the Event Tent and the Waste Management Team at Wandsworth Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Ann, Barry, Charles, Chris, Dave, David, Derek, Ed  ,Guy, James, Jamie, Jane, John, Louise, Marina , Mike, Nick , Paul, Per, Phil, Sally, Simon, Theo, Tom, Victor, Wally, Xilano and Zoe.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That no one reads the email blast! My request for Christmas attire was missed on everyone..

Christmas Selfie

Beddington Park: Add Your Voice!

This year there is a Heritage Lottery Fund project to restore Beddington Park, including the lakes and the River Wandle. The Wandle Trust have been involved in developing the bid with Sutton Council, providing expertise and guidance.

If you’re a user of Beddington Park or live close by, please take the time to complete this short survey to add your voice to how you use the Park and how you’d like to see it improved!

Click here to take the survey

Wandle life: Purple Loosestrife

I often blog about pollution and work we are doing to improve what is wrong with the river.  However, there is a lot of wonderful sides to the Wandle too!

This is the first of an occasional blog on the life found in and around the Wandle for you to look out for…


Purple Loosestrife on the banks of the Wandle at Butterhill (Carshalton)

It is time for the beautiful Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) to be seen flowering on the banks of the river. This  plant is a perennial plant loved by bees and butterflies.

It was used in the past as an astringent medicinal herb to treat diarrhea and dysentry.

Keep your eye out for a splash of beautiful purple as you walk or cycle along the river banks!

Wandle Park Revival, 6th July

2,000 visitors were predicted to attend the Wandle Park Revival event on Saturday 6 July, but the lovely weather attracted over 7,000 people and the Wandle Trust was there too, appropriately located right next to the river!  Dozens of interested people stopped by to ask questions and share reminiscences of their childhood in the park before the river was buried in a concrete pipe, and we chatted to young and old alike and handed out lots of copies of the Wandle vision document.


Meanwhile, moustachioed gentlemen in top hats rode penny farthings along the footpaths to the sound of a harmonica and percussion from a traditional one man band,


and as the sun rose higher in the sky, children and dogs automatically gravitated towards the water for a paddle.


Following Croydon Council’s £3.5million transformation of the 123-year-old park that has returned the River Wandle to the surface for the first time in 40 years, the park’s Victorian splendour has been brought back to life and a host of new and improved facilities have been created.

The three year scheme, made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Big Lottery Fund (BIG) Parks for People programme, has also restored the bandstand, water-fountain, ornamental planting and boating lake, plus created a new skate park, ball court, open-air gym, pavilion and community garden, all set against the backdrop of the Wandle.


Some 50 stalls and stages provided a wealth of entertainment for the crowds, and during the day three plaques were unveiled at the new bandstand by The Mayor of Croydon, senior Croydon councillors and Wesley Kerr of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which provided £1.9m towards the project. The scheme was also supported by £400,000 from Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s Help a London Park scheme, Croydon Council’s ‘Parks to be Proud of’ initiative, and Barratt Homes as part of their neighbouring New South Quarter housing development.

New exhibition: the Wandle Trust at Croydon’s Clocktower Cafe

Often clad in chest waders, with a Nikon camera around her neck, you’ll almost certainly have spotted volunteer and keen amateur photographer Sally Ann Symis in the river at many of our recent community river cleanups, taking wonderful photographs of volunteers, rubbish and invasive species for this website!

In May, local resident, retired surveyor and fellow keen amateur photographer, John Reeve, happened to be walking by the Wandle at Trewint Street on a cleanup day, and asked Sally Ann if she would like to hold an exhibition of her photographs at the Clocktower Cafe and Gallery in Croydon of which he is an avid supporter.

So she selected 16 of her favourite images, framed them, and took them down to be displayed on the entry wall of the Clocktower Cafe.

Now, another 16 of her photographs, depicting Trout in the Classroom, invasive species removal and of course cleanups, are being displayed in the cafe/gallery during the month of August. 

So, if you happen to be in Croydon and want to enjoy a relaxing cappuccino and a slice of cake (almost as delicious as Sally and Jo’s!) head on down to the Clocktower Cafe and have a look at the display. You might even find that there’s a photograph of you! 

This exhibition is kindly supported by Barratt Homes.

Trout in the Town: How it all began

If you’ve ever wondered how the Wandle Trust’s work helped to kick-start the whole UK’s urban river restoration movement… then wonder no more. 

Just click on over to the latest issue of Eat Sleep Fish and read this fascinating interview with our good friend Paul Gaskell of the Wild Trout Trust, aka Dr Trout in the Town. Quite apart from the Wandle Trust’s involvement, it’s also a great illustration of how passion and profession can converge in one man’s career (and a reminder to some of the rest of us that maybe we didn’t quite make the right early career choices…)

BBC Open Country on the Thames

From being biologically dead less than 50 years ago, the Thames is now home to at least 125 different fish species… and the good work to improve its habitats is still ongoing. 

For the New Year’s Day edition of Open Country, the BBC highlights the regeneration of London’s arterial river, and how last October the Environment Agency won the Thiess International Riverprize on behalf of everyone involved.

Along the way, presenter Helen Marks talks to writer Iain Sinclair, archaeologist Fiona Haughey, and our good friends Vic Richardson and Simon Hoggett from Thames 21.

The programme will be repeated on Radio 4 at 3.00pm this Thursday 6 January , and you can listen again at any time via the BBC’s iPlayer service (where the Wandle’s own appearance on Open Country is also still available!)

Coming back to Croydon: another big win for the Wandle!

We always knew there had to be some point in playing the National Lottery so assiduously…

… and now it’s all becoming clear… with a whopping £2m just awarded by the Heritage Lottery and Big Lottery funds to join Croydon’s earlier £400,000 Parks for People win, plus £1m from Barrett Homes in addition to their own deculverting scheme…

… to put the Wandle back into Wandle Park for the first time in 40 years.

As our good friend Dave Webb from the Environment Agency said in the Council’s own press release:

“Opening up this culverted section of the Wandle will restore the river as the focal point of the park and provide a wonderful environment for people and wildlife. It will be a shining example of how to improve a local park while also managing flood risk, assisting with adaptation to climate change and creating a healthy river.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.  Now, all we’ll need to do is sort out the urban runoff and other diffuse pollution problems from the rest of those culverts under Croydon…

“And the winner of the world’s biggest river restoration award is… the Thames!”

News just in from the far side of the world, where the Wandle’s slightly bigger sister went up against global competition for the Thiess International Riverprize… and won! 

From the Environment Agency’s (justly proud yet cautionary) press release:

“The Thames scooped the prize thanks to its dramatic recovery from a biologically dead river in the 1950’s to today’s thriving waterway; teeming with fish, and with returning salmon, otter and sea trout populations…

Since April 2005, 393 habitat enhancement projects have been completed and nearly 70 km of river has been restored or enhanced.

In the last 150 years the Thames has been to hell and back, and it has taken thousands of people many decades to restore it to this point.  Tighter regulation of polluting industries and our work with farmers, businesses and water companies to reduce pollution and improve water quality, have all helped to make the Thames a living river once again.

But the recovery is fragile, and under increasing pressure from a growing population, ageing infrastructure and climate change. Through innovative projects such as the Thames Tideway tunnels and the London Rivers Action Plan, we and all of the people and organisations we work with are proving that we are tackling these challenges head on to ensure that the Thames remains an iconic river for many centuries to come.”

The trophy was collected on behalf of the Environment Agency by Rob Oates, Director of the Thames Rivers Restoration Trust – and the prize will provide an extra £218,000 to invest in the river’s sustainable future and a twinning project in the developing world.

Congratulations to everyone involved! 

Views from the Wandle: Saving Farnham’s water meadows

Back in the day when this website was still young, you might remember that we threatened promised to report interesting stories from the front lines of urban river restoration everywhere.

Now, here’s a really good ‘un from the other side of Surrey: the growing community campaign to save Farnham’s historic town-centre chalkstream water meadows from developers

(Image: the Bishops Meadow Trust)

… and presumably much of the rest of Farnham from catastrophic flooding if such an ill-conceived flood-plain development were ever allowed to take place on this natural flood storage reservoir (yes, the sort of flood storage that almost everyone else is desperately trying to put back elsewhere).

From a biodiversity point of view, according to the campaign and fundraising website:

“… Species rich pastures are the UK’s most threatened habitats and anything we can do to reverse this trend of disastrous decline must be grasped. 

Restoring Bishops Meadow to its former glory should be the first step in reclaiming the entire river meadow system that runs from the historic centre of Farnham to Waverley Abbey via the now derelict Moor Park meadows.

Farnham is blessed with such unique landscape features: Farnham Park to the north, the old Farnham Heath to the south and running through it all, like a necklace of green jewels, the neglected wonder of the water meadows. What this town needs urgently is a Farnham river meadows conservation policy”.

The first Bishops Meadow Trust AGM will take place on 24 March: if you live in the area, this looks like a great local cause to get involved in.

We just wish there were still water meadows left on the Wandle to preserve…