The River Quaggy
Natural and naturalised
Fortunately, not all parts of the Quaggy have been channelised. Channelising schemes are extremely expensive, and in the past, some sections of the Quaggy avoided being channelised when money ran out during a large flood alleviation scheme in the 1960s.
These unspoilt stretches of the Quaggy provide us with an insight into how this river could look in other places - some are remarkably close to Lewisham's shopping centre. They are also very important because they have preserved some life in this river - flag iris, water parsnip, mayflies, sticklebacks, minnows and kingfishers.
The Quaggy as nature intended
Willow Country Club, Weigall Road - private sports club
The Quaggy untouched by channelisation. A vision of how the Quaggy could look in other places - this picture was taken only 1800 metres (one mile) from Lewisham’s Clock Tower.
The river, allowed to function naturally, has created a meandering low-flow channel with alternating riffles and pools. Many sticklebacks can be seen here, and the Environment Agency reported minnows in this section in June 1996. QWAG has located kingfisher nests in this area.
Willow Country Club, Weigall Road - downstream section
In 1995 a survey carried out by QWAG found mayfly nymphs in this section of the Quaggy - an indication that the water is very clean. Nowadays, with less heavy industry in urban areas and stricter controls on the processing of sewage, the water in urban rivers is often very clean. Clean water and a natural habitat mean the Quaggy can begin to come to life in this short section.
Some of the trees have been cut back here to create light and thus encourage riverside plants such as the yellow flag iris.
Mottingham Farm, Mottingham Lane
Very beautiful short stretch of the Quaggy. This part of the river is in open rough ground accessible to the public. Children use this section of the river to play - building bridges across the river and catching sticklebacks. Here the river is more open with fewer trees, allowing marginal plants to get established. A clump of flag iris can be seen growing on the right-hand bank of the river.
Nature Reserve in the grounds of Hadlow College, Mottingham Lane
This site on the Quaggy was once a fly tip but was reclaimed and restored by a previous occupant - the MacIntyre charity. The picture is of a pond connected to the Quaggy. As well as being attractive this pond acts as a refuge or reserve for fish and plants that might be flushed out of the Quaggy in a very severe storm. This site is on private land and there is no public access.
Private garden, Lewisham
Some residents whose properties back on to the Quaggy have created a feature of the river and made it a part of their gardens. Here hard materials have been removed and the river bank has been re-graded to be less steep. Some native marginals, such as the flag iris seen here, have been planted; others have arrived naturally. The result is an attractive river bank which provides a habitat for mayflies and other insects.
Private gardens and sports grounds can provide an important hideaway for the river's shyer residents, such as the kingfisher.
Restored section of the Quaggy in Chinbrook Meadows
In 2002 a straight concrete channel was bulldozed away and the river was released to meander naturally across Chinbrook Meadows. This picture was taken on 14 September 2003, one year and nine months after the bulldozers moved in. The area shown was not seeded or planted. Instead, plants were allowed to colonise naturally. The indication so far is that this approach works much better for wildlife and has resulted in a greater diversity of species. Note that the river has already created beaches, vertical banks, pools and riffles. It is these different habitats that enable a river to support a great diversity of life.