Wandle cleanup: November 2014: Merton

The one with the trug ramp

This November we were on Plough Lane in Merton for our cleanup and despite a week of persistent rain, we were blessed with blue skies for the day of our event. Lucky us!

Forty two volunteers came out on Sunday morning to join us. Before our usual Health & Safety briefing, we all gathered to commemorate Remembrance Sunday with a two minute silence at 11 am.

This month’s cleanup was funded through the Living Wandle Landscape Partnership as part of our River Guardians Project. River Guardians is all about pollution and how everyone can take small steps to help reduce pollution reaching the Wandle.

For November we focused on fly-tipping: who is responsible and who can we report it to. After our brief talk, we then moved onto the actual problem itself – rubbish in our river…

I was lucky enough to have some extra help supervising everyone this month with the well-trained Basher as my assistant.

Basher, My Assisstant

Under our supervision, everyone divided into two teams: waders and litter pickers. Our litter pickers marched off up and down the banks of the Wandle and quickly discovered a prime example of fly-tipping upstream of our site which was cleared thanks to a dedicated effort of students from American International University in London.


While our litter pickers were busy searching for fly tipping, our wading team were pulling out trug after trug of bottles, cans, wood and all sorts from the Wandle. We quickly found a bra, which I couldn’t help but model after last month’s inflatable bra, and a plastic frog which did not turn into a prince following a kiss – can’t say I wasn’t disappointed….


About half way through the morning, our wading team pulled out a long piece of wood from the Wandle and our creative volunteers had an idea. This plank was used as a trug ramp – allowing us to easily pull full trugs up the banks to the wheelbarrows for unloading. We kept this loyal piece of wood till the end of the cleanup when we had to say goodbye and leave it on the enormous rubbish pile to await collection from Merton Council.

The Trug Slide

After a morning of heavy lifting and pulling, we were ready for our tea break. Sally had kindly made a delicious ginger cake traybake for our volunteers which went down a treat.

Delicious Cake

After lunch we got back straight back into it. Afternoon highlights included the signature Wandle Trust coconut modeled by Gideon….


….a toy helicopter…


and a visit from Erica to see how we were all getting on!


So what did we find? 1 trolley, 1 satellite dish, 1 fake frog, 1 lawn mower, 1 car battery, 1 beheaded doll, 1 dolls head (not the same toy),  1 coconut, 1 toy helicopter, 1 toy steering wheel, 2 black bins, 2 bras, 2 traffic signs, 3 traffic cones, 4 tyres, 6 knitted jumpers, 20 bits of plastic piping, over 40 bags of rubbish, rolls and rolls of carpet and endless pieces of wood!

Huge thanks to: Gideon who helped me load and unload the van (and our star volunteers who helped us carry all the equipment back to the van at the end of the event); a special thanks to Andy who coordinated packing the van so we could take back a useful trolley we found, Sally for catering for 42 volunteers; Theo, Gideon, Andy and John for helping supervise the day (and Basher of course), and to the Waste Management Team at Merton Council for organising collection of all the rubbish the following day.

Thank you to all our volunteers for coming: Abi, Ali, Andi, Brianna, Brooke, Casey, Charles, David, Derek, Erica, Gearoid, Gideon, Gigi, Hannah, Hardy, Helen, Jamie, Jayem, Jeffrey, John L, John N, Ken, Lindsay, Louise, Lynn, Max, Meg, Molly, Neil A, Neil P, Nicoco, Per, Rob, Rose, Sally P, Sally Ann, Sashha, Theo, Toby, Wally and Wayne.

So what did I learn from my second cleanup? Grapples are a lot of fun.

THE Pile

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