Wandle cleanup: June 2012: Wandsworth

The one with the Diamond Jubilee!

In the middle of an unseasonal week of torrential rain, there was a brief respite which happened to fall on the day of our cleanup.  This was snatched eagerly by 56 volunteers who turned up to tackle a long stretch of river between the Lydden Road and Foster’s Way bridges.

As part of the Wandle Valley Festival’s Jubilee Weekends, we pitched our gazebo patriotically in King George’s Park alongside that of our sister organisation, the Wandle Piscators.

Even though we’d visited this stretch many times before, there was still an astonishing amount of rubbish in the river.  Small plastic items, bottles, cans and toy cars were loaded into our own flotilla of blue boats…

… whilst a succession of tyres, car bumpers, number plates and car seats made us wonder whether there was, in fact, a whole vehicle buried somewhere in the silt!

Unbelievably, 6 more shopping trolleys were removed from the same stretch as the 14 we’d found in January

 … along with another 15 tyres ( we inspected each one carefully before we took them out of the water and, not surprisingly, they housed the 6 eels we counted during the cleanup).

But the best find of the day was a giant plastic fish pulled out by local ‘Duck Sock Hop’ illustrator Jane, and son Tom:

Amongst the new faces were two young volunteers keen to help pick up litter.  Brothers Oliver and Joseph, along with Dad, wrestled with light litter caught in the undergrowth:

Totally embracing the Jubilee theme, union jack bunting festooned the gazebo, and smaller union jacks and a vase of English roses completed the decorations.

Sally sported a union jack peaked cap, and Jo pulled out all the stops having baked two lemon sponges with union jack shaped fruit toppings and a fabulous chocolate cake resplendent with white chocolate crown.  Also on the ‘garden party’ menu were cucumber sandwiches and Rob’s delicious lemon drizzle cake!

As our volunteers made their way back to the river after a well-earned break, there was much activity going on back at gazebo HQ.  Membership secretary of the ‘Wands’, Jim Dillon, talked about river fly-life to the many passers-by whilst Theo signed copies of his new book ‘Trout in Dirty Places’:

Particular thanks go to Jo Horrobin and White Light Ltd who have transported another half a dozen leaky waders to the repair shop in the West Midlands. Other pairs of waders, which were deemed to be beyond redemption, have now been cut down to be used as wellies.

We’re grateful as always to Joanna and Michael of Wandsworth Council’s Waste Management Team who arranged collection of the rubbish pile on the day, and our regular lorry driver Terry who turned up early to pick up all the rubbish (and to enjoy a cup of tea and slab of cake!).

Thanks to all our volunteers:  Abi, Amber, Andy B, Andy P, Ann, Barry, Bart, Bella, Brian, Carol, Charles, Charlie, Debbie, Doug, Gideon, Hannah, Helen, Henry, Hugh, Jan, Jann, Jane,  Jill, Jo H, Jo S, John B, John N,  Joseph, Keith, Kelly, Leonie , Mark, Michael, Mike, Nick, Oliver, Paul G, Paul Y, Per, Phil, Robert, Roger, Rory, Rose, Sally, Sally Ann, Sean, Simon K, Simon W, Steff, Stephen, Theo, Tim, Tom E and Tom P.

who collected:

1 coconut (always!), 1 giant fish, 1 sheet of metal, 1 buggy, 1 carpet, 1 plastic road barrier, 1 office switchboard, 1 tarpaulin, 1 dustbin, 1 security box, 1 suitcase, 1 car bumper, 1 number plate, 1 toy car, 1 toy bus, 1 besom, 1 Honda hub cap, 1 kettle, 1 watering can, 2 oil drums, 2 road cones, 2 office chairs, 2 bicycles, 3 mattresses, 3 car seats, 15 tyres and approximately 2.5 tonnes of other unidentified rubbish.

Eel tally: 6

 All photographs : Sally Ann Symis

This event was supported by the Western Riverside Environmental Fund. It was also supported by the WATER project selected within the scope of the INTERREG IVA France (Channel) – England cross-border European cooperation programme, co-financed by the ERDF.


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