ⓘ River Wandle. The River Wandle is a tributary of the River Thames in south London, England. With a total length of about 9 miles, the river passes through the L ..

River Wandle

ⓘ River Wandle

The River Wandle is a tributary of the River Thames in south London, England. With a total length of about 9 miles, the river passes through the London Boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Merton, to meet the Thames at Wandsworth. A short headwater - the Caterham Bourne - is in Surrey, the historic county of the rivers catchment. Other tributaries of the Wandle include the River Wrythe and the Norbury Brook.

The name Wandle is thought to derive from a back-formation of Wandsworth Old English "Wendlesworth" meaning "Wendles Settlement”.

The Wandle Trail follows the course of the river from Croydon to Wandsworth.


1. History and boundaries

In the pleistocene before the carving of the Mole Gap, water lapped the north of the area between the North Downs and Greensand Hills known as the Vale of Holmesdale taking the Caterham or Coulsdon Bourne routes, to form the much less deep Merstham Gap, a wind gap. In more recent times, precipitation on the local central, small section of the long escarpment percolates through the chalk and reappears as springs in central Croydon, Beddington, and Carshalton. The occasional stream, known as the Bourne, which runs through the Caterham valley and Smitham Bottom in Coulsdon is a source of the River Wandle but only surfaces after heavy rainfall. A series of ditches and culverts carries the water from Purley to Croydon.

For many centuries the River Wandle rose from a spring by Brighton Road to enter and flow through the Haling neighbourhood in the south of Croydon. It ran along Southbridge Road and upon reaching Old Town it reached a maximal 20 ft 6 m across and began to divide into smaller channels. The grounds of the Old Palace and Scarbrook Hill had springs engineered with ponds, streams and canals where fish swam, especially trout. Over the years it became renowned for its fish, appearing in chronicles, such as, William Camdens Britannia 1586 and Izaak Waltons The Compleat Angler 1653. Lord Nelson would fish in its waters, leading his mistress, Lady Hamilton, to rename the Wandle, as it flowed through her garden, the "River Nile", in Nelsons memory.

However, as Croydons population grew and use of the water closet increased, the Old Town streams became little more than open sewers and were filled in or culverted from 1840 after outbreaks of typhoid and cholera.

The river then flowed through Pitlake and on through two marshy fields - Froggs Mead and Stubbs Mead - drained to form Wandle Park in 1890. Local springs were used to form a boating lake in the park, but frequent drying up problems led to the lake being filled in and the river was culverted in 1967. In 2012, the Wandle was restored to the surface in Wandle Park. From there, the river continues underground, through where the gas works used to stand, under the Purley Way road past Waddon Ponds and appears on the surface at the road Richmond Green where a small green buffer to its south acts as the green after the footpath at the end of Mill Lane in Waddon, Croydon.

For part of its length, the Wandle forms the boundary between the London Boroughs of Croydon and Lambeth and, further downstream bounds Merton and Wandsworth. Shortly before reaching the Thames the navigable Bell Lane Creek splits from the river, rejoining close to the confluence.

Localities adjoining the river and its mentioned main tributaries include: Croydon, Waddon, Beddington, Wallington, Carshalton, The Wrythe, Hackbridge, Mitcham, Ravensbury, St Helier, Morden, Merton Abbey, Colliers Wood, South Wimbledon, Summerstown, and Wandsworth. Carshalton Village is home to Honeywood Museum, which includes displays and an interactive map about the River Wandle and its influence on the life of the area.


2.1. Headwaters Intermittently visible watercourses

Rain falling on part of the North Downs mainly filters through a thin topsoil into chalk and emerges on the spring line and in gentle ravines carved by water erosion. At the top of the catchment the Wandle has four main headwaters historically noted as winterbournes - streams which only flow when the water table is high.

Two such streams, culverted, combine in Central Croydon beneath Bourne Street to form the Wandle which emerges immediately north-west in Wandle Park. The Wandle is piped part-way-through neighbouring New South Quarter to flow under Purley Way formerly Waddon Marsh Lane and part of its retail park. From its central gathering the flow is westwards or WSW until merger with the Wrythe. On its route the early Wandle surfaces to receive springs at a long lake Waddon Ponds beside Mill Lane, Croydon.

The Coulsdon Bourne and linked Caterham Bourne south of Croydon town centre ran in wet seasons. They have been culverted since before 1900. When the water table is medium or high these waters meet at Purley, run in a culvert the length of the Brighton Road, South Croydon, and merge into the surface water drains and culverts in the town centre which become much of the above stream.


2.2. Headwaters The River Wrythe

The River Wrythe rises in the Carshalton Ponds, at about 115 feet 35 m AOD, and flows north-eastwards for a distance of just over 1 kilometre 0.62 mi before joining the River Wandle at Wilderness Island. The river gives its name to the neighbourhood of The Wrythe in Carshalton.


2.3. Headwaters The Norbury Brook

The Norbury Brook is in its western section for parochial boundaries called the Graveney River. Aggregated streams combine under Grant Road, Addiscombe. Straightened, it roughly bounds Croydon and Lambeth Boroughs forming the ancient boundary of Croydon and Norwood once the large woodland in Norbury parish. Its long, culverted mouth with the Wandle is in Tooting Graveney – it meets the Wandle fronting the Haydons Road part of Wimbledon in the Borough of Merton.


3. Use

The river has been well-used since Roman times; in the 17th century Huguenots were attracted by the cloth and textile mills which lined the banks of the river. It was heavily industrialised in the 18th and 19th centuries the industrial revolution, and was declared one of the most polluted rivers in England. The main industries then were tobacco and textiles. The river was used to power 68 water wheels, of which only a few survive, such as at Merton Abbey Mills for paper, print and tapestries.

The Liberty print works and Merton Board Mills before early 20th century demolition dominated the riverscape replaced by a two-retailer clothes and food megastore in Merton. Local concentration of heavy industry resulted in multiple leats being cut during the 18th century; a remnant of the old courses, the Pickle, is two ditches, one runs beneath Liberty Avenue. The former leat has become the main river next to Merton Abbey Mills craft village.

Clean-ups of the Wandle have improved the water quality dramatically, leading to a return of the rivers brown trout. This improvement in water quality has also seen other fish thrive with stocks of Chub, Roach and Dace all flourishing once again with the most popular angling spots being in Hackbridge and Colliers Wood.


4. Local nature reserves

A stretch of the river between Trewint Street and Plough Lane in Merton has been designated as the Lower Wandle Local Nature Reserve LNR. It is lined by mature trees and patches of grassland. South of the Lower Wandle, an area of wetland between the River Wandle and the Wandle trail is the Wandle Meadow Nature Park LNR. Another LNR adjacent to the Wandle is the Wandle Valley Wetland in Carshalton.

In 2017, a new nature reserve was created in Bell Lane Creek in the Wandle Delta, by removing a half-tide weir that had been installed in the 1980s at the junction of the Wandle and the River Thames. This had been built as the first part of a project to create a marina, however it had ceased to work some years previously. Restoring it would allow the tide to clear out silt and restore a natural tidal river. In addition, a section of the Thames river wall was lowered as part of the Wandsworth Riverside Quarter residential development, to allow reeds and vegetation to develop and provide a more natural sloping embankment. As part of the project layers of contaminated sediment were dredged from the site, to restore a gravel bed and restore a wildlife habitat measuring roughly a hectare in size.


5. Incidents

21st century hazardous discharges

In 2007, Sodium hypochlorite was accidentally flushed into the Wandle from Thames Waters Beddington sewage works. The chemical was being used to clean its tertiary treatment screens. Its use is permitted if captured "re-circulated" for further treatment. The discharge killed over 2.000 fish of various species. The sewerage undertaker failed to notify the Environment Agency – its site manager thought it was minor. The company apologised; it offered to meet local angling clubs and the Wandle Trust to discuss restocking and long-term support for the Trusts work. The regulator fined the provider £125.000 and legal costs. In 2009 it was the greatest penalty for a one-day unlawful discharge into controlled waters. In 2010 a High Court judge found the fine was under the statutory rules governing pollution penalties "manifestly" excessive, reducing it to £50.000, noting Thames Water had donated £500.000 to clean up the river.


6. Makeup

The predominant geology of the south part is chalk interspersed with flint and narrow alluvial gravel beds in the south. London clay overlaid with patches of gravel topped by deeper humus forms the north; the top soil, tempered by the chalk beneath is less acidic where still seasonally turned in the south.

The river has since the 18th century been largely terraformed with tributary artificial channels becoming surface water drains and runoff ditches. It has its relatively few underground culverted stretches; these are in Croydon.


7. Namesakes

  • The Wandle River in South Island, New Zealand.
  • The SS Wandle, four successive steamships. Three were built for the local Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Epsom District Gas Company.

In the 1980s Wandle designated one of the London bus districts. Its logo was a water wheel above the London Transport roundel.


8. Landmarks

  • A signposted link to the Thames Path exists in the north including its riverside at Wandsworth Park
  • Ram Brewery converted
  • Bridges, one with an information plaque, cross the river at Wandsworth High Street and its central park, dotted with high rise housing.
  • Plough Lane stadium
  • Wimbledon Stadium
  • The Wandle Trail is a 12.5 - mile 20 km walking and cycling trail that follows the River Wandle from Croydon to Wandsworth in south - west London The Wandle
  • Wandle can mean: River Wandle in South London, England, also known as Wandle River Wandle Valley Wetland Wandle Trail Wandle Park, Croydon Wandle Park
  • Wandle Park may refer to one of two separate parks in London, England, both on the course of the River Wandle and on the Wandle Trail: Wandle Park, Croydon
  • reserve by Merton Council. The Meadow lies between the River Wandle and Mead Path, part of the Wandle Trail. Wetland plants and animals include small sweet - grass
  • Wandle Park is an 8.5 - hectare 21 - acre park located in the Broad Green Ward of Croydon, south London, England. It was opened in 1890 by the Mayor of Croydon
  • south by Colliers Wood High Street, where there is an entrance, the River Wandle to the west hence the name and Byegrove Road to the north. The land
  • a number of enemy attacks in the Second World War. SS Wandle was named after the River Wandle which flows through much of district that Wandsworth gas
  • The Wandle River is a river of the north Canterbury Region of New Zealand s South Island. It flows generally south from the slopes of Mount Lyford to
  • Local Nature Reserve. The River Wandle runs along the southern boundary of the park, which is also part of the Upper Wandle River Site of Metropolitan Importance
  • of the River Wandle that rises near Lower Addiscombe Road and flows north - west through Selhurst, Thornton Heath and Norbury to join the Wandle at south

  • district. The area is bounded by Merton High Street to the north, the River Wandle to the west, Christchurch Road to the east and Deen City Farm to the
  • of reserves. The reserve is a narrow strip along the east bank of the River Wandle It has areas of woodland, marsh, scrub and an open ditch. Trees include
  • northern perimeter of the Savage River National Park. The river is joined by 25 tributaries including the Waratah, Wandle Hellyer, Keith, Lyons, Rapid
  • the western side of the River Wandle just south of Wandsworth town centre. It is one of a string of green spaces along the Wandle Valley, along with Garratt
  • which feeds the lake: this is part of the River Wandle a Thames tributary and the park is on the Wandle Trail. Part of the park is managed as a wildlife
  • on the banks of the River Wandle in Morden, south London. It covers over 50 hectares 125 acres of parkland with the River Wandle meandering through it
  • Crane Beverley Brook River Wandle Ravensbourne River Silk Stream Pymmes Brook Salmons Brook Moselle Brook Ingrebourne River River Cray The network also
  • The district is bisected by the main A217 road and bordered by the River Wandle The area was home to Wimbledon Stadium, a dog racing track that also
  • The Vanguard Way connects with central London with the Wandle Trail along the River Wandle from Croydon and is sometimes used as a walking route between
  • Priory, now the home of a variety of businesses, mostly retailers. The River Wandle flowing north towards Wandsworth drove watermills and provided water
  • Carshalton s ponds Lower Pond from where water flows through the park as the river Wandle The park land was in mediaeval times part of the manor of Stone Court
  • Located in the Wandle river valley. one of the river s sources, Waddon Ponds, is a public open space. The Wandle has been deculverted in Wandle Park and in
  • the name derives from a spring which is thought to be related to the River Wandle which runs through the East of the area from the Carshalton ponds. The
  • major centres in Greater London. Wandsworth takes its name from the River Wandle which enters the Thames at Wandsworth. Wandsworth appears in Domesday
  • also small demonstration gardens. In the south is the old course of the River Wandle which in now dry most of the time, but still has yellow flag iris. Margaret s
  • Wrythe may refer to: River Wrythe, a tributary of the River Wandle in South London, United Kingdom The Wrythe, an area of Carshalton, South London, United
  • north - south direction, with an average width of 120 metres 390 ft The River Wandle forms the eastern boundary of the park. It is divided into three area
  • Co. dyeworks on the bank of the River Wandle The Wandle was reputed to have more mills per mile than any other river in the world, having 90 mills along
  • Wilderness Island is the 2.7 hectare island between the Wandle and Wrythe in Carshalton in the London Borough of Sutton. It is designated a Local Nature
  • 1965, next in order of size was the River Wandle Then follow the River Bourne Addlestone branch and the River Bourne, Chertsey which merge. They have

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