Wandle cleanup: March 2016: Merton

The one with the extra 20p

For March this year we headed to North Road in Wimbledon, but we decided to start much further downstream than normal, at the Haydons Road railway bridge.

First, however, we all met at the usual spot for the Welcome Talk and Health & Safety Briefing. New volunteer, Alex Clements, introduced himself and the work he is doing for a MSc in Environmental Management. For this he has chosen the Wandle as a case study in how social learning and engagement leads to more effective management of rivers and their water catchments. If you can spare two minutes, please do complete his online survey!

After that, we all got stuck in to the main event. Lucky volunteer Joe spotted a friendly chub checking out how the cleanup was going. And an eel which quickly swam away. Quite the spot!

Under the railway bridge, our wading team quickly filled their trugs with all sorts, from tyres to cans to bottles to traffic cones to wallets. The 3 helpers on the banks were soon overwhelmed.


Once the waders reached the footbridge beside Garfield Recreation Ground, we all re-grouped to shift the huge amount of rubbish already found back to the rubbish pile.

Further up the wading team found a tyre, but it was much, much bigger than our usual catch. Remembering some of our previous cleanups at Wandle Bank, we think it might have been an old bus tyre? It took all our volunteer muscle to lever it out of the silt, and then more to get it up on the banks and rolled back to base.


Soon it was 1pm and time for our scheduled lunch break. We had a lovely cake made by Jackie and the sun came out briefly to warm us up.

After lunch we got back to it.

As we ventured into more familiar territory towards the North Road Bridge, our finds became smaller. A small team broke off to venture further ahead, finding a couple of trolleys.

The waders also discovered a safe. Unlike the usual safes we find with the backs blown out, this one was intact and rattling… potential Wandle treasure?


Alas, after some clever hacking with a crow bar, we gained 20p… but every little helps?

All in all it was a great day, and yet another worryingly large haul from the Wandle!


So what did we find?  1 radiator, 1 prisoner card, 1 headless teddy, 1 kitchen chair, 1 bus tyre, 1 bin, 1 traffic fence panel, 1 Christmas tree, 1 chest of drawers (in pieces), 1 barrel, 1 traffic cone, 1 safe and 20p, 2 folding chairs, 2 trolleys, 9 normal size tyres, lots of wooden boarding and bags of bags of other junk.

Huge thanks to Thames Water for funding the event, everyone who helped unpack and pack up the van during the event, Jackie for catering for our volunteers, Rosie for supervising the Event Tent and the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the next day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Aaron, Alex, Andy, Bruno, Charles, Claire, Dave, Derek, Ed, Geoffrey, Guy, Ian, Jackie, Joe, John, Keith, Michael, Nick, Nicola, Penny, Per, Phil, Rose, Ruth, Steve, Stewart, Susan, Theo, Victor, Wally and William.

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