Dave Larkin reports on an exceptionally busy day for QWAG’s volunteers at the Thames Festival.
Our display attracted a steady flow of interested people. QWAG returned to the Mayor of London’s Thames Festival this year intending to build on last year’s successful debut. The Blue Ribbon Tent, where our display was located a year ago, had expanded into the Blue Ribbon Village – “the place where you can discover all about London’s 400 mile network of rivers, tributaries and canals.” It had also drifted downstream, from under the shadow of Waterloo Bridge to the embankment outside City Hall, and it was here, against the impressive backdrop of the city, that we set up this year’s display.
It was an exceptionally busy day for the volunteers. We attracted a steady flow of interested people – mostly Londoners but also a sprinkling of other U.K. and overseas visitors. We were on hand to explain the pioneering role the Quaggy had played in flood control and urban river restoration. How, after a long, hard campaign, QWAG’s flood alleviation proposals had been accepted, and in consequence ugly concrete channels had given way in vital places to a naturalised river flowing across a revitalised flood plain. As ever, our dramatic ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of Chinbrook Meadows and Sutcliffe Park best told the story.
Even more important than relating past successes was informing visitors of the opportunities and threats facing the Quaggy today. With an outline planning application for a massive re-development of Lewisham town centre currently under review, we explained our aspirations for restoring the Quaggy where it flows beside the High Street. QWAG firmly believes creating a green corridor here with a pathway beside the river is a sure-fire winner for popularising Lewisham. Local people seem to agree with us – but is it possible to convince the developers and the local council?
It’s a difficult challenge – but one we believe we can win. And if we do succeed in this high profile location, what a great story for us to tell at next year’s festival.