Photos: Mike Keogh and Pamela Zollicoffer searching for the source of the Quaggy, and Mike sprinkling Ken’s ashes
QWAG Secretary Pamela Zollicoffer organised an investigative walk to discover the source of the River Quaggy in Locksbottom. Using a map supplied by Ralph Palfrey, the QWAG group found a little stream by the A21 opposite the old police station and next to the old Fantail. Entering a wood upstream, we found that this Quaggy tributary went into the fenced off gardens of the Keston Estate.
Walking round the wood, back onto the A21 and into a private road south of Ninehams Wood we found a pond in the front garden of one of the detached properties. The owner was asked about the pond and they said that it ‘fed itself’, giving the group a big clue as to a possibly source of the Quaggy. QWAG were directed to a man living opposite, who also had a small watercourse in front of his house, with an ornamental bridge spanning the stream. He thought the source was in the wood to the north, about 100yds away. A locked metal gate barred progress and so out to the A21 again and east to a bridleway opposite Farnborough Hospital. A ditch ran alongside the bridleway and after a short distance a bricked-up source was located. Vice chairman Mike Keogh had brought along a portion of the ashes of Ken White, who sadly passed away in late 2011, and sprinkled these over the source of his beloved river Quaggy. A future walk is being planned by Pamela and QWAG, whereby it may be possible to walk from the source down to the Kyd Brook and possibly beyond, who knows. We’ll keep you posted for sure.
River Walks & Other Events
QWAG organises at least one river walk each year to highlight the issues and the potential of urban rivers generally and to celebrate progress and restoration made on the River Quaggy specifically.
Details of river walks and other events that QWAG is either organising or participating in are listed here.
In 2004 we organised a walk around Sutcliffe Park, which had recently re-opened after a year’s closure. Thanks to QWAG, the park had been transformed from a municipal grass monoculture into a haven for wildlife - and through it flowed the restored River Quaggy, meandering past seasonal wetlands and a new lake. This, we proclaimed, was the model for flood alleviation schemes of the future.
Five years on, we're going 'back to the future' to see how the park has fared. Has it lived up to expectations? Find out on QWAG’s 2009 river walk.
The walk starts at 2pm. Meet by the main gate in Eltham Road. The nearest station is Kidbrooke (15 minutes' walk). Buses 122, 321 and B16 stop outside the gate, bus 178 nearby. The walk is free and you don't need to book – please email email@example.com or phone 07968 631114 if you require more information.
Previous river walks
See The Pool monty (7th September 2008) for a report on our 2008 river walk.
See The rovers return - and meet an old friend (9th September 2007) for a report on our 2007 river walk.
See A suitable case for treatment (10th September 2006) for a report on our 2006 river walk.
See Is it a road or is it a river? (4th September 2005) for a report on our 2005 river walk.
See Sutcliffe Park River Walk (5th September 2004) for a report on our 2004 river walk.
Quaggy breaks free
Amazing things happened to Chinbrook Meadows during 2002. Laurene Brooks reports on two special events that marked the realisation of another great QWAG idea:
It rained on the 29th October 2002 but no-one seemed to mind. From those expensively shod, to the wellington-boot brigade, all who attended the 'Changing the Channel Event' were in agreement that it was a very good day to be there. After all, the rain was only demonstrating the effectiveness of the carefully sculpted flood plain and weren't we there that day to witness the official opening of the restored River Quaggy by Steve Bullock, the Mayor of Lewisham?
Seven weeks before, on the 8th September, QWAG organised a preview walk for interested supporters. A hundred people came. We saw not a sterile Quaggy encased in concrete as it had been in our walk two years previously, but a river gently shaping its own meandering bed within a carefully crafted flood plain.
Speakers on the day included chair and founder of QWAG, Matthew Blumler, Julie Baxter from the Environment Agency and Mike Keogh from Groundwork. In small groups we all moved from river side to bridge to outdoor classroom to hear our speakers explain the historical, environmental and educational aspects of this site.
We learned from Matthew that the river had been channelised here in 1936 because that was the then perceived way to control flooding. Experience has proved that containing rivers in this way actually contributes toward flooding downstream as there is little opportunity for the water to spread and soak into the ground.
Matthew explained how the Chinbrook Meadows restoration was just one of fourteen such projects proposed in QWAG's Operation Kingfisher - a grand scheme to restore the whole river.
A huge amount of attention has been given to developing the site in environmentally friendly ways and Julie pointed out two different approaches. One section of the river has been planted up with native species, and another has been left for nature to make its own way. This area and the rest of the site will be monitored and managed to prevent any invasive plants, e.g. Himalayan balsam, taking over.
Recycling of materials in situ was also on top of the agenda as the site was developed, e.g. the paths are built on hardcore made of broken down concrete. Native trees have been planted to enhance the area and to replace the small number that had to be removed. Even these trees have been recycled - one trunk has been turned into a very interesting sculpture on the river bank.
Mike Keogh spoke about the opportunities now available in the park for local school children to learn about their natural surroundings, including pond dipping facilities and a magnificent educational plaque linking the river and its locality to a wider historic, geographic and ecological perspective.
For two years all sorts of agencies have worked in partnership to restore the river in the Meadows, including of course, QWAG - who had initiated the whole enterprise. All us who gathered that day in September were impressed with the transformation and we wondered, could the rivers in the centre of Lewisham ever be this stunning?
QWAG would like to thank the Environment Agency, Lewisham Council, Groundwork and Glendales for all their help in making the QWAG walk a success. Special thanks go to Julie Baxter, Matthew Blumler and Mike Keogh for speaking at the event, and to Conrad Young of LBL's Environment Sustainability Unit for his support.
Photos from previous river walks and other events
A walk in September 2003 from Lewisham shopping centre to Brookmill Park in the river!
QWAG provided walkers with waders and walking sticks (courtesy of the Creekside Centre) and the walkers in turn provided entertainment to bemused shoppers and those visiting Lewisham for different reasons.
A picnic event in June 2003
The River Quaggy in Chinbrook Meadows, 16 months after the concrete was removed and a new channel dug. Looking upstream (south) from below the new bridge. Children and adults are fishing. Many sticklebacks and two stone loach were caught.
River Quaggy Open Day in Manor Park in 1996
Children learn about and find life in the River Quaggy.