Tag Archives: Volunteering

Wandle Cleanup: June 2019: Merton

Our June river cleanup took place at North Road, Merton. We had a great turnout this month with 68 keen volunteers.

Following the welcome talk and health and safety briefing, we headed downstream to access the river and start removing the rubbish. It was amazing to discover how much litter was both floating and embedded in the riverbed and banks.

Items such as plastic bottles and food wrappers quickly filled the trugs, and volunteers on the banks helped to bag it up and wheel it to the rubbish pile.

The wading team in action.
Yorkshire puddings anyone?

We also found quite a few larger, heavier items such as duvets, bicycles and a three-piece sofa set! We hauled these onto the banks as a team, and the cub scouts also did a great job of bagging up the rubbish and carrying it to the rubbish pile.

Warning! Duvets are heavy when wet!

Several trees had fallen across the river, creating great habitat for insects, birds and fish, and also trapping rubbish for us to retrieve. The volunteers carefully leafed through the branches, searching for “hidden treasures”.

A litter trap – and also an important refuse for small fish and birds.

Around 1pm we took a break to refuel. A huge thanks to Wally for managing the refreshments. Whilst enjoying some cake we sang Happy Birthday to Derek, one of our long serving and dedicated cleanup team.

After lunch we went back in the river where we’d left off and continued upstream pulling more rubbish. In total we removed a total of 6 tonnes of rubbish from along just 250m of river!

Trug, after trug, after trug of rubbish!

What did we find?
Two bicycles, a sofa and two armchairs, car tyres, a TV, duvets, an estate agent signpost, various parts of motor vehicles, children’s toys, kitchen pots and pans, religious statues, and the usual food wrappers and drinks bottles and cans.

We had a massive rubbish pile by the end of the session!

Great work everyone. Looking forward to seeing you all at our July cleanup!

Jo & Lucy

Huge thanks to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally 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, the National Lottery Community Fund.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Tim, Simon, Carter, Shaun, Claire, Alfie, Sheila, Phil, Dave, Chris, John, Carolyn, Nick, Tom, Jenny, Becky, Ed, Matthew, Tony, Charles, Tim, William, Steve, Emma, Berte, Joanna, Thomas, Anita, Wally, Neil, Guy, David, Peter, Martin, Per, Andy, Nick, Farah, Davina, Aria, Murray, Elizabeth, Claire, Joseph, Alan, Jason, Denis, Ivan, Robert, Wilfred, Sebastian, Arna, Jane, Alan, Rob, Bev, Robert, Stewart, Jill, Leo, Aaron, Brian, Thea, Phil, Liz, Chris, Simon, Suzanne

Going Round the Bend: Next Stop a Re-naturalised River

By Lawrence Hemmings, our River Restoration Volunteer

After a great deal of planning by Luke the habitat improvement works on the Ravensbury Park Back Channel have begun with the help of our contractors – Ru and Jack of AquaMaintain. The digger and dumper have arrived as have the hazel faggot bundles posts, not forgetting the loathsome pile driver (a 20 kg hammering tool essential for river habitat work). And without further ado splash!  Work could commence.

In order to create a more biodiverse, naturally functioning river, complete with runs, glides, pools and riffles, the Ravensbury Channel needs a little encouragement.  By securing the faggot bundles in an irregular zig-zag on both sides of the river, the variation in flow will scour out deeper pools, form riffles, and, with any luck, some gravels will appear – perfect spawning grounds for amorous fish!

The Back Channel

So Luke, Jack and I splashed into the river with our trusty pile driver at the ready. We pinioned hazel faggot bundles in place by hammering in stakes on both sides, and a new bank line quickly started to appear.

Meanwhile our adept digger driver Ru set about clearing the brush from the park-side bank of the river where we have removed the toeboarding, sheet piling and other bank reinforcements. In no time at all Ru had begun re-grading the steep-sided river banks, which will allow us to connect the river to its natural soil bank. The bank can then be planted with typical marginal plants, such as sedges and reeds, creating a continuum from aquatic to terrestrial habitat. We will also be digging a small back water, where the slack flows will allow fish fry to seek refuge away from the perils of the fast lane – the new turbulent Back Channel.

The Back Channel

Stay tuned for more updates!