Located a five minute walk from Wandle Park tram stop Waddon ponds is very quiet and tranquil despite its close proximity to the busy Purley Way and the main route to the out-of-town shopping complex.
Waddon ponds is a source of the river Wandle that flows here from the edge of Croydon through the boroughs of Sutton and Merton on its journey to Wandsworth and ultimately the Thames.
The park is very popular with the local wildfowl , especially the Canadian geese who have thrived here over the last few years. Numbers of geese have risen so much that the banks are being eroded and the vegetation trodden. In response the parks departments has planted new reeds and used a wire mesh fence along the bank to restrict access to the water for the geese except at strategic points.
The results have been extremely successful, the reeds have flourished to over six feet tall and the vegetation has grown back substantially attracting insects and improving the aesthetic appeal of the waters edge. Top marks to the council!
They have also provided a wired channel across the pond for the kingfishers that have been spotted making frequent visits to the park. By providing this strip it is hoped to attract pairs of kingfishers to the ponds in the hope they will raise young in the spring.
During the bad weather at the start of the year the heavily eroded bank could no longer support one of their tallest trees that eventually toppled over. The parks took this opportunity to shore up the banks and provide wooden walkways down into the water for the ducks and geese. Recently I spotted a heron in the trees above this area assessing the water for a tasty fish!
Dogs are welcome at the ponds provided they are on a lead. The area that borders mill lane where the river exits the pond is reserved for dogs off lead and where ball games can be played. The playground is also located here within a fenced off area, A burger van is parked at this exit selling hot snack and drinks.
The nearest visible ponds to Croydon the Wandle park demonstrates how private enterprise in conjunction with the council and an active friends group can restore the fortunes of a majestic but previously neglected park a ten minute walk from Croydon town centre.
The park was formally re-launched in August 2014 with a garden party. Early in the last century the gentry of Croydon would go boating on the lake at Wandle park . In fact the original inauguration of the park was attended by as many as thirty thousand people. But in the fifties the river table dropped and the river was covered over.
The builders of a new housing development near to the park had agreed to restore the Wandle from the culvert and recreate the lake. It certainly looked impressive when I visited to enjoy the singers and poets at the new bandstand.
The new adventure playground was hugely popular with the younger generation and the new cafe did a roaring trade providing copious meals for the hungry crowds. The wandle is now visible through the park and then returns underground until it resurfaces in nearby waddon ponds.
The park improvements include a new outdoor gym, skate park and pond next to the bandstand. There are also accessible paths around the park that have been used by walkers, mother and their push-chairs and cyclists. From the bridge that crosses the railway line you can observe the centre of Croydon and the nearby tram route.