Wandle Fortnight is a celebration of the Wandle Valley run by the community for the community, and it all starts next weekend.
Much work has been done to uncover the River Wandle and clean it up, from the multi-million-pound work in Croydon’s Wandle Park, through to other projects along the river’s nine-mile course through to the Thames at Wandsworth. And the two weeks, from September 14 to 28, is full of activities to help celebrate and involve the community in this important ecological project.
One of London’s rare chalk streams, for centuries the Wandle rose from a spring on the Brighton Road, where the Swan and Sugarloaf stands, to flow north along what is modern day Southbridge Road, becoming a 20-foot wide river by the time it reached Old Town.
When 16th century millers needed an energy source, they created ponds for their mills, at Waddon Ponds and Morden Hall Park – the ponds being sufficiently good for trout fishing that it attracted Admiral Lord Nelson when he was visiting Lady Hamilton at Merton House, and merited mention in Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler.
After being turned into little more than an open sewer during the 19th century, the modern Wandle is cleaned up and regarded as an inner city oasis – though it is still subject to some incidents of pollution, something the Wandle Valley Forum hopes to reduce and minimise through increasing public awareness over the course of the Fortnight.
The Forum has provided more than £3,000 in grants to participating local organisations, including Friends of the Canons; Ecolocal; Ethnic Minority Centre; Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage; Mitcham Cricket Club; Friends in St Helier; Summerstown 182; Mitcham Parish Church; Wandle Industrial Museum and Sutton and Wandle Valley Ramblers.
Croydon Council withdrew from its direct participation in the work of the Forum some five years ago.
But that hasn’t deterred the Friends of Wandle Park participating fully in the Fortnight.
Pond Dipping, Saturday September 14 11am-3pm: Join Harold Stone at the pond in Wandle Park for pond dipping activities aimed at families. Have a go at using nets and identifying some of the invertebrates and plants. Note all children must be accompanied by parent or carer.
Pond clearance with The Conservation Volunteers, Sunday September 15 10am–2pm: Join the Friends group and TCV’s Croydon Ponds Project as we aim to give the pond area al bit of TLC, with vegetation clearance to keep the pond open, some litter-picking and maintenance along the Wandle. There will be a break for lunch so bring your own packed lunch or head for the park cafe. No need to book. Just turn up on the day. All equipment and waders provided but please wear appropriate clothing.
Meet at the Bandstand near the pond in Wandle Park. Please note this activity is not suitable for children.
Amphibian ID and Habitat Management training, Thursday September 19, 7pm to 9pm: Meet at the Wandle Cafe. Interested in pondlife? Get to know your frogs from your toads, and how to effectively care for them. Wear appropriate clothing for outdoor activity. This session will be delivered by Froglife.
Beyond Wandle Park, there’s a range of further activities during the Fortnight, which can be found on the Forum’s website here.
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