Fed by rain that falls on the North Downs in Kent and Surrey, the River Wandle eventually feeds into the Thames at Wandsworth at the end of Wandle Creek.
Unlike many of the other tributaries of the Thames which descend below ground when they arrive in London, the Wandle runs along the surface for much of its length – it runs through Wandle Park in Croydon and Morden Hall Park for example. In Wandsworth it has long been used by industry – during the Industrial Revolution it was one of the most polluted waterways in England due to discharges from textile mills and tobacco manufacturers, and for over century it fed water to the steam engines that provided power to Young’s Ram Brewery which sits right alongside the river.
It doesn’t offer the most attractive river views in London given that it still runs through a post-industrial landscape, but the weirs that increase it’s flow as it reaches the Thames are quite interesting. The Wandsworth Challenge Partnership have also established some wetland terraces almost at the point where the Wandle reaches the river, and the reeds and rushes planted here do seem to have encouraged more use by waterbirds. Perhaps when the factories have disappeared and there are attractive blocks of flats here (I notice that one apartment building is already nearing completion on an old industrial site next to the river) the Wandle Creek might one day have the charm of Limehouse Basin or St Katharine Docks…
You’ll find other pictures of the area on Google+ here, including the rather beautiful Wandsworth Town Hall which is only a hundred yards or so from the Wandle. One of the few buildings in Wandsworth that has any architectural merit, this 1937 building by architect Edward A.Hunt is remarkable – not quite as space age as its sister building in Hornsey, the reliefs on the face of the building that depict scenes from local history are very attractive indeed.