explore 13 to 16
explore 13 to 16
Eye of the line
The Wetlands is London’s largest fishery – below the surface, these waters teem with fish. Each reservoir holds thousands of course and game fish, attracting anglers from across the country.
There are very distinct types of angling, each with strong identities and subcultures. And then there are the different species of fish for each type of angling – from carp and bream to trout and pike, each offer unique challenges for the dedicated angler.
Fisheries are not a recent feature in Walthamstow. Historical records tell us there were local fisheries here over a thousand years ago, before the Norman Conquest in 1066. The fine fishing on the River Lea is also celebrated in Izaak Walton’s book The Compleat Angler, first published in 1653.
Today, fisheries remain of integral importance to the heritage, management and ecology of the Wetlands.
Wetland habitats are rare in cities. Greater London has just 144 hectares of reedbeds, but this is increasing thanks to conservation efforts at sites such as Walthamstow and nearby Woodberry Wetlands.
Backflow silt from the reservoirs’ operations has provided ideal conditions for our new reedbeds to grow. Reeds absorb nutrients and pollutants, helping to improve water quality and increase biodiversity.
The cover they provide also offers better refuge areas for fish eggs and young (called fry). Amphibians and other small animals also benefit from this protection from predators. Establishing the reedbeds has also created new areas of shallow water. This will attract more wading birds and a host of other wildlife.
The Ferry Boat Inn
This Grade II Listed Building dates from around 1620 but there was probably a building here for centuries before that. It was built originally as a dwelling for the local ferryman, who transported people across the river.
For generations the ferry was the sole means of crossing the Lea here until a bridge was built by Sir William Maynard in 1760. The building has also served as a farmhouse, posh country restaurant, tavern and even a morgue for unlucky people drowned in the Lea.
Unsurprisingly, it is rumoured to be haunted. The inn also has a long association with fishing. Over the years it’s surely been witness to plenty of anglers’ tales about ‘the one that got away’...
The Two Towers
When Lockwood Reservoir was completed in 1903, the castellated tower behind you and its twin at the northern end of the Lockwood Reservoir were also built.
They house valves that control the flow of water pumped between the river and the reservoirs. If you look up at wall of the outlet building here you’ll see an inscription: ELW. This was the insignia of the East London Waterworks Company, creators of the entire reservoirs complex between the 1860s and early 1900s.
Find out more about the story of the reservoirs when you visit the Engine House.