The Wandle Trust

Town: South London

River Name: Wandle

River Basin: Thames

County: Surrey

Author: Paul Gaskell

NGR: TQ282653

The Wandle Trust is the original blueprint for Trout in the Town branches and continues to deliver amazing success stories for the London Chalkstream where Nelson learned to fish the fly. Casting a dry fly upstream to rising trout (or the Carshalton Dodge”) is first committed to print in 1853 and made the Wandle famous in the annals of fly fishing history.
Yet by the 1960’s the river was officially declared a sewer.

The Wandle Trust has carried out exemplar campaigning for the river, supported by hugely successful volunteer working parties for litter and invasive plant removal. They carry out invertebrate monitoring to check on water quality using the RIverfly Partnership Angler’s Monitoring Initiative (click here for more information). They have an extensive and well run schools education programme with Trout in the Classroom’ .

2011 saw the Trust move into new territory — physical habitat improvement in the channel. It took 2 years of negotiations with Wild Trout Trust and the Wandle Trust with the Environment Agency to meet and allay concerns over potential flood risk implications in this densely populated area of London. See Paul Gaskell’s blog for the story.
Following training in techniques from the WTT to a (very large!) group of volunteers (see photo below), the Wandle Trust have enthusiastically embraced the use of brashings, large woody debris and flow deflectors to create good habitat for trout. The work to facilitate eel passage and improve connectivity for resident fish populations is already making significant progress.

In the time between 2011 and 2014, the Wandle Trust have secured significant funding (including a 1.9 million pound Heritage Lottery fund award for the Living Wandle project) and have been able to achieve extremely notable progress — including the following impressive milestones:

  • Installation of sediment interceptors into road drains to protect spawning gravels from smothering/​toxic impacts of carriageway runoff
  • Pioneering installations of mycelial (fungal) filters at outfalls for surface water drains (more info, click here ) 
  • Multiple weir-removal/notching projects within heavily urbanised river corridor coupled with…
  • Redistribution of contaminated sediments combined with planting (to stabilise) and gravel introduction/large-woody debris installation to capitalise on improved geomorphology potential provided by reduction/​removal of impoundment (more info click here )

In short , due to a talented and dedicated team, the Wandle Trust have absolutely transformed the fortunes of this previously degraded London chalkstream and it has been fantastic for the Wild Trout Trust/​Trout in the Town to be part of laying the initial ground-works for their ongoing great successes.

A video of the habitat improvement techniques used on the Wandle is available here.

Projects were initally started using the habitat restoration fund set up by Thames Water to make reparations following a serious pollution incident. The Wandle Trust also received a project bursary from the WTT and has made successful bids for significant European and UK funding as a Registered Charity and Rivers Trust.

The Wandle Trust continues to be an example for others to follow.

Paul Gaskell of the WTT explaining habitat improvement to Wandle Trust volunteers 

Training Wandle Trust volunteers in habitat management