Wandle river scheme boosted by heritage lottery fund award


The funding will enhance a 20-mile stretch of the river.


By Peter Lythe

A scheme to revitalise some of the natural and historic features of the River Wandle has been awarded almost £2million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The Living Wandle Landscape Partnership – comprising Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth councils, Groundwork London, the National Trust, Wandle Valley Festival, London Wildlife Trust, Wandle Trust, and Wandle Valley Regional Park Trust – will use the funding to enhance a 20-mile stretch of the river which has, in places, become publicly inaccessible or hidden by urban development.

Invasive weed species are to be cleared, concrete culverts will be replaced by natural-looking sloped banking and boardwalks are to be installed along the riverside.

Sue Bowers, Head of HLF London, said: “The Wandle is a fascinating watercourse whose existence, let alone its history, is only glimpsed at a few points during its journey from Surrey to the Thames.

“This exciting partnership project will open up both physical access and educational opportunities to the many communities that live or work close to it.”

The five-year venture will deliver a learning programme so that people can find out more about the river, its wildlife and its industrial past.

Particular emphasis will be placed on conservation, including a training initiative to help volunteers support the upkeep of the Wandle beyond the life of the project.

The river winds through 12 Sites of Nature Conservation Interest but there is also a rich cultural, manufacturing and religious heritage along its course.

Of particular interest to John Hawks, Vice-Chair of the Merton Priory Trust, are the historic foundations of Merton Priory’s medieval Chapter House.

Long hidden in an enclosure under the A24, he said that a new glass-fronted entrance and internal facilities would open to public view one of the Wandle Valley’s most precious archaeological relics.

The Landscape Partnership grant programme is designed to help conserve some of the UK’s most diverse and distinctive landscapes by supporting schemes that provide long-term social, economic and environmental benefits.

HLF has already helped fund other major projects along the river’s length, such as Carshalton Ponds, Morden Hall Park and Wandle Park.

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