Wandle history

The River Wandle is a unique South London chalkstream which flows north from Croydon and Carshalton to join the Thames at Wandsworth.

In Victorian times, the Wandle was one of the hardest-working rivers in the world, with 90 mills along its 11 mile length, and water so pure and clear that it attracted prestigious printers like William Morris and Arthur Liberty.

Dry fly fishing, known as the ‘Carshalton Dodge’, was first developed for catching wary trout from the river’s crystal-clear headwaters, and Lord Nelson reputedly fished at ‘Paradise Merton’ after teaching himself to cast again with his remaining good arm!

Yet by the 1960s, the Wandle was officially declared a sewer, running pink, blue and all the other colours the tanneries were using – and now we’re working with many partners to clean it up and restore its biodiversity.

Come back soon for a fuller history of the Wandle: in the meantime, why not visit the Wandle Industrial Museum for more information about the river’s long and fascinating past?

We also recommend the excellent River Wandle Companion and Wandle Trail Guide, published in 2012 by local authors (and dedicated Wandle volunteers) Bob Steel and Derek Coleman.

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