South East Rivers Trust (& the Wandle Trust)

Wimbledon Common – river restoration on the Beverley Brook

We’ve just started work on a very exciting project to enhance the section of the Beverley Brook that runs through Wimbledon Common. This project is being carried out in conjunction with Wimbledon and Putney Commons Conservators and Merton Council and is being funded by the Environment Agency and Viridor Credits (landfill tax).

Approximately 2 km of the Beverley Brook – that’s 14% of its total length – flows through Wimbledon Common. The Common is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Conservation Area. Despite these impressive designations the Beverley Brook is in poor shape: that’s where we come in!

An extensive programme of works will be carried out between January and March 2019 to help restore the natural processes, enabling the river to ‘self- heal’ and become a fully-functioning riverine ecosystem.

Similar work was completed in 2016 along the Beverley Brook in Richmond Park and has resulted in more diverse habitats and a more natural river channel. You can read about this project, 2 years on, by clicking HERE.

Why is restoration needed?

The Beverley Brook, like many of London’s rivers, has been heavily modified in the past leaving behind a highly uniform river channel lacking in habitat diversity. The river channel has been over-widened, and in places deepened, along most of its length with all natural woody material and instream features being routinely removed from the channel for decades. Due to these reasons there is little variation in flow and depth and consequently there is little habitat diversity for fish and aquatic invertebrates.

In addition to this, the banks are very steep and the river is incised – if you stand on the top of the bank the river is quite a long way down. Overshading from the mature woodland, means there many areas where there is little vegetation covering the banks to hold the soil in place and so it washes into the river.  You may have seen a sandy bottom on the river bed: this isn’t actually what it’s meant to look like and is a result of the soil washing in and smothering the natural gravels. This is a problem for the river ecosystem as many of the plants and animals that would naturally live in the Beverley Brook need the gravel river bed habitats to survive.

A natural river system has the ability to self-regulate but when it becomes modified, these processes can get out of kilter and we may need to intervene to kick start them again.  All of the modifications to the Beverley Brook have left the river with little power, taking away the opportunity for the channel to naturally fix itself with geomorphological processes.

What are we doing?

This ambitious project will help us improve a long stretch of the Beverley Brook for both wildlife and people. To do this we will be:

  • Adding Large Woody Material to increase flow variation and provide a greater complexity of habitats for aquatic wildlife.
  • Removing toeboarding (wooden boards that run along the base of the bank) to help encourage the natural adjustment of the channel, and provide better habitat at the river’s edge.
  • Removing some trees along the bank. This will let in more light to encourage vegetation to establish along the banks and reduce soil erosion.
  • Re-profiling the incised and steep banks to enhance marginal habitats.
  • Narrowing and remeandering the channel to create a diversity of different flow patterns and produce marginal wetland berms.

The WPCC team have already started to undertake some of the tree works required. Once the main work starts, there will be some temporary disruption to visitors as the footpath will need to be closed for safety reasons.  Alternative routes will be signposted.  We apologise for this disruption but hope you can bear with us whilst we undertake this very special project to enhance this area.  

With special thanks to:

Have any Question or Comment?

7 comments on “Wimbledon Common – river restoration on the Beverley Brook

I was very happy to read of your plan in the above newsletter. I have been walking this path with my family and dog for many years and am happy to find that an organisation is concerned with its upkeep. However, I am very distressed with the state of the Brook during the past two months. Your notices suggest that work will be complete by March 1st yet the Brook is full of felled and storm damaged tress which are accumulating refuse, as the dam the water flow. The water is cloudy and fish (and birds) have disappeared. Why is the work in abeyance – as it stands it is much worse than before? I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards,
Bill Webb

Jess Mead

Hi Bill,
Thanks for getting in touch. The work we’ve carried out aims to mimic the natural processes that help create a better environment for wildlife. You can read all about what we’ve done and why in our LATEST BLOG.
The litter that’s now catching in the installed woody material may look unsightly, but it is litter that would have previously flowed downstream and polluted the sea. Now that it’s being collected, ourselves and Wimbledon Common Conservators are planning events to clear the rubbish along the stretch and remove it from the river altogether. Feel free to join us at our next one on the 29th of May. Fore more information and to book your spot take a look at our Events Page.
Hope that helps answer some of your questions.

Susanna Riviere

Just wanted to report a sighting of two patches of Himalayan Basalm along this stretch of the Beverley Brook. I have not seen it here in previous years and thought you might want to get rid of it before it spreads. It doesn’t seem to be possible to phone you

Jess Mead

Hi Susanna, Thank you for sending in your balsam sighting. The Wimbledon Common Conservators are working to remove the balsam along their land. We’re hoping to survey the entire length of the Beverley Brook to map out the locations of all invasive species along the river to ensure we manage them in the best way possible. If you’re interested in helping us then please take a look at our training session which is coming up next week:

Phil Hogarth

My garden borders Beverley Brook in New Malden, where it varies from a stone culvert to an over grown steep bank. Are there plans to restore, conserve the river in New Malden?

Jess Mead

Hi Phil, Thanks for getting in touch. There’s a lot to do along the Beverley Brook to achieve the vision laid out in our Catchment Plan ( At the moment there are no immediate plans to do any restoration work along the New Malden stretch but that doesn’t rule it out for the future. Hope that helps.

[…] Why have we restored this stretch of the Beverley Brook? Read our introduction blog here. […]

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