Tag Archives: Wandsworth

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.

Why?

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: June 2018: Wandsworth

For June we headed to Ravensbury Terrace in Earlsfield, Wandsworth.

At this event, Polly was accompanied by myself (Hannah) and Lucy. We will be taking over from Polly and running the cleanups from July 2018. This month was our chance to learn the ropes!

We kicked off the day in the usual style, with a Welcome Talk and Health & Safety briefing. It was a wonderful warm and sunny day, so it came as no surprise that everyone seemed keen to get wading shortly afterwards.

We had a great turnout, with around 50 volunteers working in and alongside the river. Whilst removing litter, some of the group concentrated on removing Himalayan balsam, an invasive plant species, from the river banks.

Here is the before and after!

Although we had recently visited this site back in January, the group quickly found our first big item – a Boris bike!

Followed by… another bike!

As the day went on, we found some other interesting items including a driver’s license, a teapot, a gold watch, coconuts, and a raccoon (don’t worry, not a real one), which Polly gave a new home.

Our break for lunch was a nice opportunity to cool off, drink some water and of course fill up on some cake.

The second half of the day was spent removing anything we had missed, and we found some wooden desks, and this teapot!

So what did we find? 1 VHS, 1 carpet, 1 speaker, 1 scooter, 1 Disney art box, 1 teapot, 1 raccoon, 1 bracelet, 1 watch, 1 driver’s license, 1 bucket on wheels, 1 trolley bag, 2 bikes, 2 footballs, 2 coconuts, 2 golf balls, 2 wooden desks, some silver piping and lots of glass and plastic bottles, food wrappers, plastic bags and bits of cloth – and bags and bags of other junk.

We also spotted a Cinnabar moth, which I had never seen before (thanks Dave)!

See you next month!

Hannah and Lucy

Huge thanks for the warm welcome, and to everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Wally and Maddy for supervising the Event Tent, and Wandsworth 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, Alison, Anne, Bridget, Charles, Chris, Dave, David C, David D, Derek, Ed, Eiryn, Ethan, Garth, Gemma, Gideon, Guy, Hugh, Ian, Jack, Jane, Jason, Jeffrey, Jo, Joanne, Joe, John, John, Luke, Madeline, Mark, Martin, Nick, Nicola, Paul, Per, Phil, Raphael, Robyn, Rory, Sally Ann, Sheila, Simon, Steve B, Steve N, Suzanne, Thomas, Wally and William.

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 (https://twitter.com/Wandle_Trust/status/940152156224675841) 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: 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: 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!

 

Wandle cleanup: January 2017: Wandsworth

The one with Rudolph’s leftover carrots   

And so another year of Wandle cleanups begins. But before we move on to 2017 and all the cleanup fun it has in store, we really should take a moment to reflect on what we achieved in 2016. Thanks to everyone involved, we achieved a lot!

wandle-cleanups-2016

This is the tip of the rubbish iceberg really, as so much of what we pull out isn’t counted such as bottles, cans, plastic bags, old bits of metal and all the other junk that has been in the river so long we can no longer identify it.

We couldn’t have done this without the support of our funders, the support of the local councils who come and remove the rubbish free of charge, and most importantly, you and all our other volunteers who came along each month, put on waders and got stuck in. (Not literally, of course).

With 2016 behind us, now we look to 2017

For our first cleanup of 2017 we headed to King George’s Park in Wandsworth to tackle a short stretch of the river we hadn’t visited for a few years. The banks were steep, there were a lot of brambles, but with the energy of the New Year spurring us on, we felt ready for the challenge.

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Kitted out with waders, gloves, litter pickers and bin bags, we all got to work and it wasn’t long until trugs of rubbish were being hauled out and emptied into wheelbarrows.

We found a paddling pool, but as the weather wasn’t on our side, we decided not to set it up for the tea break.

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A bicycle was pulled out of the Wandle’s depths…

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… as well as some more unusual finds, including a bag of carrots? We can only assume Rudolph and the other reindeer were clearing out their cupboards after a carrot-heavy Christmas.

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Just before lunch, the wading team found a huge lorry tyre which provide difficult to remove from the mud, but also to heave up the bank!

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By lunchtime we were all very hungry and ready for a cup of tea. Ann had baked us a lovely tray bake which disappeared quickly while we all warmed up and caught up on our Christmas adventures. Giselle, an MSc student, arrived at lunch to interview us for her dissertation on rewilding and voluteering. If you can spare a few minutes, please so complete her survey online!

But no rest for the wicked, and after lunch we were back in the Wandle wading away. A carpet was pulled from the silty bed and heaved up the bank to drain.

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A second lorry tyre was found – we were just waiting to find the cab next!

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As it came to finishing time, Derek and his super senses had found something lurking under the water. It was well and truly stuck in the mud, and with some leverage from a crow bar and a lot of heaving from 5 people on the banks, we managed to pull it free.

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A trolley and pram frame all in one! The Wandle always delivers..

With that, we packed up just before the rain started and headed home.

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So what did we find? 1 electric blanket, 1 duvet, 1 pillow, 1 bag of carrots, 1 pair of headphones, 1 mobile phone, 1 bicycle, 1 tape cassette, 1 shovel, 1 radio, 1 trolley, 1 paddling pool, 1 pram frame, 1 money safe, 1 carpet, 2 lorry tyres, 2 traffic cones, 4 coconuts and 5 car tyres, with 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, Rose for supervising the Event Tent, Ann for baking, 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, Andrew, Andy, Ann, Claire, Dalziel, Dave J, Dave W, David, Derek, Ed, Guy, Jane, John, Ken, Louise, Marcus, Nick, Penny, Phil, Rose, Sally, Steve, Theo, Tom, Tristan, Victor, Will and Younan.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   Derek has a sixth sense when it comes to finding large items lurking in the Wandle!

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Wandle cleanup: April 2016: Wandsworth

The one with the local chef

For our April cleanup, it was time to venture to an unknown site for myself (but a well-known site for the regulars) – Ravensbury Terrace. This site is the next stop downstream from Trewint Street so we knew there would be plenty to find.

This was a slightly special cleanup as we were being filmed! Our work on the Carshalton Arm of the Wandle had recently won the Urban Category for the UK River Prize and for this we needed to produce a film about the project. One of the most important elements of our project was community engagement and our wonderful volunteers – and the cleanup was the perfect chance to catch them!

After a welcome talk from myself, we all got in the river to film a shot for our video – you’ll be able to watch the full film soon so keep your eyes peeled…

Once that was all wrapped up, the cleanup commenced. The first challenge was getting down to the bank via an upcycled staircase made of wooden pallets – the perfect addition to any fashionable London house. Once down there, we had a narrow path to ferry the rubbish back and forth.

Cleanup 1

To make matters worse, there were several Giant Hogweed plants growing along the path. Giant Hogweed is a nasty invasive plant which can grow up to 5m tall – outshading native vegetation. The plant also produces a toxic sap which can cause chemical burns to the skin following exposure to sunlight. To help prevent anyone having to experience this, Theo Pike covered each plant with its very own traffic cone. We always there would be a use for all the traffic cones we found in the river!

Cleanup 2

The rubbish quickly started appearing, as it always does. A metal drum, traffic cones, push chairs and more.

Cleanup 3

As we worked up the river, we stumbled upon my favourite find of my (almost) two years of cleanups – a chef!

Cleanup 4

As soon as he was safely out of the river, we made sure he was put to good use…

Cleanup 5

Just before lunch, we got close to Trewint Street. On a previous cleanup there we had found a motorbike in the river, but we knew we’d be unable to haul it up the concrete flood walls above the bridge, so we pulled it out of the river and left it here it on the bank. But now it was time for collection.

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The bike was extremely heavy and the path was very narrow (even narrower with the hogweed plants). Our volunteer first broke the steering lock off the bike, allowing us to move it down the path easier. Two wrecking poles were then used to lift the bike.

Cleanup 7

At the other end, our volunteers built a ramp up the pallet stairs and we all watched and hoped the ramp wouldn’t give way..

But it didn’t, one bike successfully removed. Time for lunch.

We were once again spoilt by the students from the American International University in London, who baked us a very impressive spread of cakes including salted caramel brownies and gooey chocolate cookies.

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During lunch, we even had time to interview some of our volunteers about the project and how the river in Carshalton has changed.

The cleanup resumed after lunch. A mattress was found and removed with some effort,  together with planks of wood and lots of piping as well.

Cleanup 10

Cleanup 9Trug after trug were filled, emptied and ferried to the rubbish pile.

40 Ravensbury Terrace - Apr 2016

So what did we find?  1 mattress, 1 chef statue, 1 jumper, 1 vase of flowers, 1 robot hand, 1 donkey toy from Shrek (great early birthday present, thank you), 1 motorbike, 1 pushchair, 2 chairs, 3 traffic cones, 6 tyres, lots of plastic piping, lots of planks of wood, bags and bags of bottles, cans and other junk.

Huge thanks to the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership for funding the event as part of the River Guardians projects, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Dean’s Blinds for hosting us, the students for catering for our volunteers, Rosie 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, Alex, Andy ,Barbara, Bella, Brandon, Brian, Charles, Charly, Chris, Daniel, Dave, Denis, Derek, Ed, Eden, Emes, Guy, Ian, Jamie, Jess, Joe, John, Keith, Ken, Lisa, Mark, Matthew, Merel, Miriam, Nick, Olivia, Paul, Penny, Per, Phil, Piper, Rachelle, Rafael, Rob, Rose, Sally Ann, Sara, Steve, Theo, Victor, Victoria, Vittorio, Wally and Wayne.

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That you can make anything you need from what you find in the Wandle

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Wandle cleanup: January 2016: Wandsworth

The one where we worked so hard we finished early..

Firstly, a Happy New Year to everyone!

For the first cleanup of 2016, we returned to Trewint Street in Earlsfield following reports of fly-tipping in the river. However little did we know that the day before brought a huge downpour of rain, so when we arrived at 10am on Sunday morning, all the rubbish had been washed further downstream. Oh well, off we go!

To start off 2016, I decided to summarise what we had achieved as a group in 2015. In total, we had spent 2241 hours clearing the Wandle covering 6.6 km of the river with 595 volunteers pulling out 33 tonnes of rubbish. Amazing. Below you can see some of the highlights.

2015 in Cleanups

After the inspirational talk, it was time to get started. A team of brave waders climbed over the fence into the Wandle and headed downstream under the Trewint Street bridge. A mattress had been spotted a short wade away and everyone’s sights had been set on dragging this back up the river and hauling it out over the concrete bank. A great warm up, we all thought..

Mattress

Pulling the mattress may look simple enough but it actually took 6 of us hauling on the grapples and holding the mattress in the air while it drained away some of the water it had soaked up. Getting in on a wheelbarrow and to the rubbish pile was a whole new kettle of fish.

Mattress

Meanwhile, litter pickers had discovered the large pile of fly-tipping further down the Wandle Trail. This pile has been kindly re-stocked for every cleanup to date, but a team got stuck in and shifted all sorts to the rubbish pile including water barrels, flooring, fencing, garden furniture and a TV.

Fly tipping

As the day continued, the rubbish pile got bigger and bigger. Theo cleared the newly installed fish pass which had caught some branches in the recent high flows on the river. Without getting wet, he managed to remove the branches using the grappling hook, much like one of those grabber arcade games except there was no adorable cuddly toy prize at the end, before clambering down the ladder to dislodge the biggest branches by hand.

Wading

We stopped slightly early for lunch as we were all pretty cold and in need of a cup of tea. Sally Ann, Jackie and Ann had made some delicious cakes for us all which disappeared in no time. Before we got started again, we had a mini team meeting to work out what to do. The waders had cleared downstream of the bridge leaving only the upstream route which was known to be full of silt. Bravely, the waders got back in and headed towards Plough Lane.

Jane

Within 20 m, they were out again! The river was too deep and waders only reach so far up. So instead we all walked along the Wandle Trail looking for motorbikes from the banks. For once, we couldn’t see any!

Having already removed a huge pile of rubbish we decided to finish slightly early. We packed up the van and all headed home for a much needed warm shower.

Next month our cleanup falls on Valentine’s Day – so why not bring along a date! Who wants flowers and chocolates when you can wade in the Wandle and find yourself the perfect gift…

The Perfect Gift

So what did we find?  1 sodden mattress, 1 desk chair, 1 folding chair, 1 lounger, 1 kitchen chair, 1 picnic table, 1 TV, 1 dustbin, 1 gas canister, 1 push chair, 1 thermos, 1 rusty old air rifle, 1 clothes dryer, 1 heater, 3 traffic cones, 3 water barrels, 4 bicycles, lots and lots of fencing and miscellaneous flooring and bags and bags of other rubbish.

Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding the event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Ann, Jackie and Sally Ann for catering for our volunteers, Wally & Theo for supervising with me and Rosie 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, Abi, Alex, Andrea, Andy, Ann, Barry, Charles, Chris, Dave J, Dave W, Derek, Ed, George E, George N, Guy, Hamish, Hugo, Ian, Jackie, James, Jane B, Jane P, Jason, Joe, John, Karoline, Louise, Margie, Marina, Mark, Mike, Penny, Phil, Rianne, Rose, Sally Ann, Simon, Stephen, Subiratha, Sue, Theo, Tom H, Tom K, Victor, Wally, Xilona and Zoe

So what did I learn from this month’s cleanup?   That there is a very good reason why I bring the bag of spare clothes every month…

Rubbish Pile

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…

Mary

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)

IMG-20160105-WA0009

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