Victoria Summerley: We must educate the public not to use a river as a dump

Share
Related Topics

My local river is the Wandle. It gives its name to Wandsworth, where I live, and anyone who has ever been through south-west London has probably crossed it without knowing, because there are long underground stretches. But whereas many Thames tributaries live secret, subterranean lives, the Wandle frequently bursts forth - through the parklands of Beddington and Morden Hall, for example.

It's a fast-flowing chalk stream which has proved a blessing and a curse. At the end of the 18th century, the Huguenot refugees who settled in south-west London found the slightly alkaline Wandle water was ideal for their industries (dyeing, hat-making and weaving).

William Morris set up a factory on the Wandle at Merton Abbey in 1881, and Arthur Liberty followed, producing the prints that made his name world-famous. The river, once famous for its brown trout, became heavily polluted. By the 1960s, before the dawn of environmental awareness, much of it was little better than a sewer.

In the past 20 years, various initiatives have not only helped restore the health of the Wandle but given it a new career. Merton Abbey Mills is now a craft village. At Morden Hall, a former deer park now owned by the National Trust, the river becomes a series of meandering streams, and children play Pooh-sticks on the bridge.

And the trout are back, released into the river each year by local schoolchildren who raise the fry under the Wandle Trust's Trout in the Classroom scheme.

The trust, in partnership with a whole host of organisations ranging from local boroughs to the Environment Agency and fishing clubs, oversees the health of the river and organises regular clean-ups. These, sadly, are necessary because although the Wandle is no longer polluted by dyes and chemicals, it is used a dumping ground for tyres, supermarket trolleys, and any other items of household detritus people can't be bothered to take to the tip.

We may have legislated to prevent industry releasing waste into our waterways but we still have to educate the general public that "river" does not spell "dustbin".

I've taken part in these clean-ups and I remember once meeting a family who told me how much they loved the river. One of their children had taken part in a trout release at his primary school and as a result took an almost proprietorial pride in the river. I'm fairly confident he will grow up to be one less thoughtless person chucking rubbish in a British waterway.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Separate lives: Boston’s streets illustrate the divide between the town’s communities  

Migrants have far more to offer than hard work and wealth creation, yet too many exist in isolation from the rest of society

Emily Dugan
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 40 million copies  

Go Set a Watchman: Harper Lee’s new novel is more than just a literary event

Joseph Charlton
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate