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Tooting Common Heritage Project Newsletter No.1 (archive)

Sent out on Wednesday, February 07, 2018 for reference only

Tooting Common Heritage Project

Happy new year and welcome to the Tooting Common Heritage Project (TCHP) newsletter. Below you can read about the project to date and what is to come!

In 2017 many projects have been completed to improve access, promote conservation and celebrate the unique heritage of Tooting Common! It has been a year of community engagement with a great number of people participating in events and contributing time towards researching the history of the Common and monitoring its wildlife.

You may have noticed the works that have been undertaken to the heritage landscape of Tooting Common over the past year. Understandably, the result is one of significant change. As with any large-scale project of this nature, the long-term heritage benefits of the changes will become more apparent as time goes by. On behalf of Wandsworth Council, Enable Leisure and Culture (as well as all the various other partners) and the TCHP team we would like to thank you for your continuous support.


The drinking fountain on the corner of Tooting Bec Road and Dr Johnson Avenue has been restored and brought back to use. It is a Portland stone fountain in the Art Deco style, constructed in ashlar with a drinking fountain feature on each of the four faces. The fountain was installed in 1938 and it remains unclear exactly when it stopped functioning altogether. Photographic evidence suggests that it was still working in the late 1960s but by the late 1980s, this was no longer the case.

To allow the replacement of the original bronze fittings with bespoke new ones the fountain was partially dismantled. The original fittings were sent to a foundry for the new ones to be cast. The new fittings have been installed, plumbed and tested and the stonework has been reinstated and steam-cleaned.

The fountain now supplies free mains drinking water for local residents, commuters and users of the Common.

Image: (Right) The newly restored Drinking Fountain


Image: (Left) The newly restored Drinking Fountain. (Right) Tooting Common: drinking fountain,1967. Photo by A. Janik. Credit Wandsworth Heritage Service


Viewing windows into the plant rooms of the Tooting Bec Lido pump house have been created so that the machinery which provides clean water to the pool can been seen and appreciated. Alongside the viewing windows, a graphic panel is soon to be installed to explain the science of the water purification process.


​During an afternoon in September, a group of volunteers from the Woodfield Group, led by idverde, learnt the traditional art of Scything. This method of grassland management is favoured in hard to reach and sensitive areas as opposed to mechanical means. It was once the only method before lawnmowers, Scything features in a famous scene in BBC's Poldark!

TOOTING BEC LAKE RESTORATION Extensive work to Tooting Bec Lake has been undertaken to improve water quality and to enhance biodiversity through the creation of marginal aquatic habitats. Overhanging and submerged trees and branches have been removed from the eastern side of the lake along the Sanctuary. This will reduce leaf fall and rotting wood from polluting the lake and will lead to cleaner water and also allow more light to help aquatic plants and vegetation grow. Already the removal of this vegetation has allowed Flag Iris to flourish along this edge of the lake. To create aquatic vegetation parcels along the edge of the Sanctuary, four floating rafts or islands have been installed and anchored between the two fishing platforms and inbetween existing planting of Yellow Flag. The shade tolerant marginal plants on these rafts include Great Pond Sedge (Carex riparia), Purple Loostrife (Lythrum salicaria), Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) and Water Mint (Mentha aquatica). These plants are establishing nicely and the extra height grazing fencing around the perimeter of the rafts is providing a satisfactory deterrent from wildfowl.


27 candidates have taken part in the bespoke Level 1 City and Guilds Diploma in Land Based Studies (Environmental Conservation), out of which all candidates passed the course, 11 with Merit and four candidates achieved Distinction.

WILDLIFE During 2017 over 40 species of bird and 20 species of butterfly have been recorded by the volunteers on the common. The most recent walk delivered by Matthew Harrow of the Natural History Museum gave a fascinating insight into the world of Diptera (flies) on Tooting Common.


In September, shortly before the nesting season, 64 small-leafed lime trees were planted between the car park and Bedford Hill on Tooting Bec Common. The existing avenue of 51 horse chestnuts was in decline and approaching the end of its natural life. Following a public consultation the decision was taken to replace the horse chestnuts with a more robust and suitable species. Small-leaved lime is a native tree that has proved successful in many locations on Tooting Common. It is a traditional avenue tree that gives good shade and is very interesting from a biodiversity point of view. It produces pale yellow flowers in midsummer and in the autumn time the foliage turns a golden yellow. The trees are capable of growth to a height of 12-17m and will re-establish a grand avenue of majestic trees for the next 200 years and beyond.


TCHP runs historical and ecological walks and talks, engages with local schools and hosts an exciting range of community events on Tooting Common. Keep up to date by visiting:


Join us for a walk and talk as we tackle the subject of how to identify trees without leaf in winter. Guidance will be given on key identification characteristics of native and naturalised deciduous broad leaved trees found on Tooting Common.

Wednesday 31st January 10am to 12noon | Wednesday 21st February 1pm to 3pm Free event, suitable for all ages.

To book visit: and search 'Winter Tree ID Walk'

PREVIOUS EVENTS LEAVES IN FALL On Thursday 26th October children and their families took part in the free 'Leaves in Fall' event on Tooting Common. Fallen leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours from around the Woodfield Recreation Grounds were collected and identified and turned into beautiful kites and colourful collages. The pieces of art were showcased the change in season on the common. Everyone worked together to make a giant autumn leaf snake, see image below.

HOVERFLY EVENTS A trilogy of events took place in 2017 which delved into the fascinating world of Diptera (flies). We welcomed Matthew Harrow, an entomologist at the Natural History Museum to lead two walks to investigate and identify the Hoverfly life on Tooting Common. Participants of the walks were then invited to attend a more in depth identification session at the Natural History Museum. Under the microscope each specimen took 30-60mins to identify, the level of detail was extraordinary!


The Tooting Common Heritage Project is looking for volunteers! There are many opportunities to get involved with, either on a short-term basis or by regularly committing time to a specific project or group.

Volunteering is a rewarding experience it provides the opportunity to learn about your local environment, enhance your skills, improve your health and well-being and meet new people. Visit the website for more information about volunteering opportunities, or email the TCHP Team.

Wandsworth Council has been awarded just under £1.4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a larger £1.9m scheme to explore, restore, conserve and enhance the cultural and natural heritage of Tooting Common.

Initiated by Wandsworth Council, managed by Enable Leisure and Culture in partnership with the South London Swimming Club, The Woodfield Project, idverde (formally Quadron Services Ltd), The Tooting History Group and Wandsworth Historical Society. Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Wandsworth Council.



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