Commons Update - Autumn 2022

Welcome to the Commons update for Autumn 2022

A round up of our activities over the last few months.

As mentioned in our last Newsletter, 2022 has certainly thrown some meteorological challenges at the Commons. From Storm Eunice in February through to the record-breaking temperatures of June and July, our staff have spent most of the year on high alert. With many open spaces across the country going up in flames during the heatwave, destroying vital habitat, we are all grateful that the Commons remained safe.

Despite the recent heavy rains, the water levels are still very low in the ponds and at Caeser’s Well, so the rain is very much needed.

London in Bloom 2022

We are delighted to announce that once again both Wimbledon Common and Putney Lower Common were presented with a Gold Award at the 2022 London in Bloom Awards. In addition to this great result, Wimbledon Common was also presented with the trophy for London Common of the year 2022. These awards are a real testament to the ongoing commitment of all the staff and volunteers who help to look after the Commons and our thanks go out to everyone involved.

The London in Bloom campaign is the largest horticultural campaign in London, involving hundreds of different communities from around the capital each year. It's aim is to increase community involvement, care for our environment and maintain our precious Green Spaces. London in Bloom Campaign entered its 53rd year in 2022 and Wimbledon and Putney Commons are very proud to have been involved with this important event since 2009.

Bill Rowland and Peter Haldane receiving the awards for
Wimbledon Common and Putney Lower Common


Grassland Management - managing for meadows

According to the Wildlife charity, Plantlife, ‘meadows and other species-rich grasslands now cover less than 1% of the UK which has been a loss of 97% (7.5 million acres) in less than a century. 

As meadows provide favourable habitats for pollinators as well as carbon storage and positive benefits for human health and well-being, we're doing our bit here on the Commons to help improve this situation and during 2022 we have dramatically increased the number of meadow sites on the Commons that are managed through a process of “cut and collect”.

In practice, this means that vegetation on each wildflower meadow site is left uncut during the spring and early summer and then the area is cut and all vegetation collected a few months later.  The removal of cut vegetation from each site ensures that a thick layer of ‘thatch’ does not build up which could suppress the growth of all but the hardiest of wildflowers.

Working alongside the larger scale grassland management works that are carried out by a contractor, the maintenance team have focused on the slightly harder to reach but no less important smaller meadows and glades.

As in previous years, cut and collect works by the WPCC teams have included the meadows at Crossroads Cottage, the southern grazing area, heathland glades around Memorial Ride as well as work around the Oasis School at Putney Lower Common.

In total, all the grassland areas that have been managed on the Commons through a programme of cut and collect during 2022 have covered an approximate area of 21.6 hectares. It is anticipated that a similar programme of work will be carried out during 2023.


"Cut and collect" in progress on the Plain


Heathland Management

Over the past few months, heathland management has been carried out on a number of different areas of the Commons. This has mainly taken the form of volunteer scrub bashing sessions and the follow up work of chipping the cut scrub that is carried out by the Commons’ Maintenance Team.

During bird nesting season, we are of course mindful of the need not to disturb nesting birds so between 1 March and 31 July, all the heathland areas that were tackled by volunteers and the Commons’ Maintenance Team consisted of low growing and well spread out scrub that could easily be tackled with small hand tools.  However, since the end of July, work has moved into areas where scrub growth is more dense. Regular visitors to the Commons will have noticed the results of this work with vast swathes of heathland having been opened up.

Cleared heathland along Roehampton Ride

Beverley Brook Management

We are delighted that, thanks to the generous support from donors and grants, two of the five bridges across the Beverley Brook have been restored.  

The first, at Putney Lower Common, had become known as the 'wobbly bridge' and in 2021 was closed to the public as the timber sleeper treads had decayed and the steel frame itself needed major repairs. In February 2022 we launched a fundraising appeal to repair and reopen the bridge and with the appeal target met by April, work on repairs was able to start in August with the old decaying sleepers replaced and the bridge painted to protect it from corrosion. The bridge is now open so that visitors can enjoy the walking loop around the Common, over this bridge along the Brook and back again over 'Tractor Bridge'. 

Opening and naming the bridge 

The formal opening of the restored bridge took place on 20 October, with Conservators and staff welcoming local residents and users of the Commons, as well as many of those who so generously contributed to the appeal.

The bridge has been affectionately named 'Bill's Bridge' in tribute to Bill Rowland, Head Ranger at Putney Lower Common, who has worked for Wimbledon and Putney Commons for 40 years and for the last 8 years has dedicated his time to caring for Putney Lower Common. 

We'd like to thank Wandsworth Council Grant Fund, Alexandra Nash, the Woodhouse family, The Miles Trust, the Putney Society and the Friends of Wimbledon and Putney Commons and so many more members of the community for their generous support.

The second bridge, across the Brook near the Richardson Evans Memorial Playing Fields was restored following a fundraising campaign led by the Thames Hare and Hounds running club.  The club took on the ambitious task of raising the £42,000 needed to replace the old timber footbridge, seeking private donations and securing grants from grant-funders.  The Conservators are grateful to the Thames Hare and Hounds dedication to the cause and also thank the Wimbledon Foundation, Thomas Day School at Putney Vale, RunThrough, London Marathon Charitable Trust and the many generous individuals who donated.

Those visiting the site to admire the new bridge will notice that there is unfortunately a considerable problem with erosion of the bank close to the eastern end of the bridge which, if left, could lead to the undermining of the bridge abutment.  As this is a favourite spot for dogs to access the Brook, our Maintenance Team have installed a fence to prevent access there and we will eventually be carrying out work to restore the bank.  We would ask all dog walkers to help us and avoid allowing their dogs to access the Brook at this location.

Rubbish in the Brook

There are many aspects to managing a water course like the Beverley Brook, including the removal of the dreaded Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed along the Brook on both Wimbledon Common and Putney Lower Common.  But by far the biggest issue we receive calls about is the rubbish that collects around fallen trees or other obstacles in the water.

The Brook arrives at the Commons having travelled through some dense urban areas upstream and so rubbish is constantly being washed down and caught up in the trees and berms across the Brook.  A heavy downpour of rain, such as we’ve had recently, will exacerbate the problem or, indeed, move it all further downstream into Richmond Park. 

The good news is that we do have a volunteer group who go into the Brook once a month to clear the build up of rubbish. If you are interested in joining the group, do contact our Wildlife and Conservation Officer, Peter Haldane by

Volunteers clearing rubbish in the Brook


Roehampton Green Project/School

Work continues around the area known as the ‘Roehampton Green’, where selective tree thinning, and mowing is carried out to encourage the safe use of this area for the community and to discourage the rise in antisocial behaviour and fly tipping.

Following an incentive that has been championed by the local resident’s association, Holy Trinity Church and the neighbouring Holy Trinity Primary school, low impact works will continue around the whole of the area, working with the natural beauty of the site along with making the most of the historical, cultural, and social importance of this location for the wider community and Commons users.

Tree work at Putney Lower Common

The team has recently carried out some woodland clearance on the raised plateau of ground between Putney Lower Common and Barnes Common.

The work that we have carried out has involved the removal of non-native sycamore trees all of which were in poor condition.  By reducing the dense shade that had been created by the sycamore canopy, light can now enter the woodland and promote natural regeneration of native woodland flora, creating a much needed woodland glade.

The next step of this work is to lightly scarify the ground and position temporary chestnut paling around part of the woodland glade to help the ground to recover.

Given the fact that Putney Lower Common does not have an abundance of woodland, this work will initially look quite dramatic but it is an essential part of woodland management.


To keep up to date with all the events taking place on the Commons, visit our Events page