Good news for sticklebacks, water voles, banded demoiselles… and wildlife fans — a network of ten reservoirs in Walthamstow is being transformed into the largest urban wetland in northern Europe.
The new nature reserve is being created thanks to a grant of £4.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is being added to £1m from Waltham Forest Council and £1.84m from Thames Water.
The area will be larger than Richmond Park, and works carried out will improve habitats for a wide range of species — many of which are under threat — as well as creating walking and cycling paths and opportunities to learn about the wildlife.
There will also be better facilities for fishing, which has a long local history in the area. A fishery in Walthamstow was listed in the Doomsday book, while the River Lea next to the Ferry Boat Inn was described in Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler, published in 1653.
A Victorian former pumping station on the site will be turned into a multi-purpose visitor centre with a café, exhibition space and viewing terrace.
Walthamstow Reservoirs are a key stop-off for migrating wading birds such as green and common sandpipers, and are one of the few places in London you can see common kingfishers. The site is also home to some of the UK’s key breeding sites for cormorants and herons.