Morden Hall Park volunteer restoration project

Working closely with landowners the National Trust and our fantastic team of volunteers, the South East Rivers Trust will be working to improve river habitats along the Wandle as it flows through Morden Hall Park.

This restoration work builds on the work previously delivered by the Trust in 2015 and 2020 which provided valuable refuge habitat for small fish fry and helped kick start natural processes.

This project will include a series of volunteer-led restoration days between spring 2022 and 2024 with the aim of increasing habitat diversity to support a wider range of wildlife.

  • Volunteer hours


  • Restoration events


  • Metres of toeboarding removed


  • Brash berms created


Morden Hall Park, historic riverside parkland

On the banks of the River Wandle in South London, Morden Hall Park is an oasis at the heart of a bustling community.

The river splits into multiple channels as it criss-crosses the park, a hint at its previous use to power a snuff mill on site.

The park is now owned by the National Trust which was gifted it by the previous owner Gilliat Hatfield in 1941.

White Bridge Morden Hall Park © Garry Knight

Wandle woes

The multiple river channels that wind their way through the park make Morden Hall Park a valuable potential refuge area for fish during high flows or pollution events.

However, the river is highly modified compared to how it would look naturally.

Many sections are extremely straight, over-wide and lined with chemical-laden wooden toeboarding. All this prevents natural processes from creating the varied patchwork of different habitats needed to support a rich community of wildlife.

Morden Hall Park before restoration

Restoration from 2015

Working with a great team of volunteers, the Trust restored one of the small side channels of the Wandle through Morden Hall Park – chosen as a great refuge area for fish.

Chemical-laden toeboarding was removed from both sides of the channel and two berms were constructed with brash to narrow the channel and create a natural meander.

The banks were reprofiled, creating a gently sloping bank on both sides, and two scraps were created as nursery habitats for young fish. Finally, plants from elsewhere in Morden Hall Park were relocated to encourage the banks to stabilise.

This small 50 metre stretch is now a perfect refuge for fish from high flows through the Park and provides excellent nursery habitat for young fish.

The Trust began restoring the Wandle through Morden Hall Park in 2015

Second phase completed

In February 2020 and March 2022, the South East Rivers Trust worked with a fantastic team of volunteers to begin our work along the arrow-straight channel that flows past the wetland boardwalk area.

Over the course of six days we have installed two brash berms. Made from twiggy tree tops, these structures extend the bank line to narrow the channel and create a more meandering channel. This will increase the water’s energy, helping to keep riverbed gravels free from silt, a process which is incredibly important for aquatic invertebrates and spawning fish.

The berm that SERT installed in 2020 has already captured large volumes of silt and has been planted up with native sedges and iris to make it stabilise. Eventually, the berms will look like a natural part of the riverbank.

We have also removed 300m of toxic toeboarding, stopping harmful chemicals from leaching into the water and allowing natural erosion to take place and begun to tackle floating pennywort along this stretch. Floating pennywort is an invasive plant species found along the Wandle and the work being carried out to remove it in Morden Hall Park forms part of a catchment wide effort to keep it under control.

Working in 2020 to complete the second phase work at Morden Hall Park

Third phase, in two stages in 2023

During Wandle Fortnight over five days in September 2023, about 40 volunteers continued the vital work to change the course of the channel and help nature thrive.

After a litter pick, they removed more than a tonne of pennywort, an invasive species, that was taken away to be composted by the National Trust.

Volunteers also placed four deflectors into the river and created three more brash berms – areas that come out from the river bank – which they planted with carax, other types of sedge and golden iris. All these will help increase the number of different species in the river, but also help to narrow the channel, varying the flow and helping aquatic wildlife spawn and thrive.

Participants also saw first hand how the improvements made in spring had developed.

Volunteers plant up berms at Morden Hall Park in September 2023

Plans for the future

Over the coming years, we will continue this work to restore more areas of the Wandle in Morden Hall Park.

We need volunteers to help us! Please join our mailing list to stay in the loop of upcoming volunteering days if you would like to be involved.

Volunteers take a deflector up the River Wandle at Morden Hall Park

Thanks to our supporters

Environment Agency
National Trust