World Wetlands Day 2008 -- UK


New Lammas Lands Defence Committee

Co-Vice- Chair: Ms. Katy Andrews, 519B Lea Bridge Road, Leyton Green, London E10 7EB.
Co-Vice-Chair: Mr. Laurie Wortley, 75 Westdown Road, Leyton, London E.15.
Hon. Secretary: Mr. Chris Hill, c/o Hornbeam Environmental Centre, Leyton Green, London E17 9AH.
Treasurer/Membership Secretary: Mr. John Gilbert, c/o Hornbeam Environmental Centre, Leyton, London E17 9AH.

Hornbeam Environmental Centre
458, Hoe Street
Leyton Green

4 February 2008

World Wetlands Day 2nd February 2008
New Lammas Lands Defence Committee Winter Walk

The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee held their first-ever Winter Walk on the internationally-designated World Wetlands Day. This takes place each year on 2nd February and is celebrated across the world.

The walk began at 2.15 p.m. from the entrance to the Thames Water reservoirs Fishery Centre, opposite the Ferry Boat Inn between the Coppermill Stream and East River Lea on Forest Road, N17.

Thirty-eight people took part, and followed a route about 2½ miles long taking in much of the wetlands of Walthamstow Reservoirs and Marshes. Participants then crossed Leyton Marshes to end at the Lee Valley Regional Park's 'Waterworks Visitors' Centre,' in Lammas Road for a well-deserved refreshment break at 4.00 p.m.

Those keen on wildlife and birdwatching then had the option of visiting the Essex Filter Beds nature reserve.

This was essentially a walk for fun, enjoying the precious wetlands of the Lea Valley marshes and finding out more about the history and wildlife of the former Lammas Lands.

NLLDC Vice-Chair Katy Andrews said: "In contrast to some of our events last year, the weather was beautiful for our Wetlands Walk on Saturday. We were very glad to be joined by a number of local people as well as some from further afield. "

(photo: John Churchill)


Contact: Katy Andrews, 18 Edward Road, London E17 6LU.
Katy's mobile telephone number is 0790 415 9398.
Katy's E-mail:

Historical background of Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes

Walthamstow Marsh is a small fragment of the once extensive marshes of the Lower Lea Valley, and the reservoirs represent the first major change to the landscape since drainage began following the Danish invasion in the year 894.

From then until the coming of the Eastern Counties Railway line, which opened in 1840, the marshes were grazed under the Lammas rotation system - cattle grazing in common from Lammas Day (August 1st) until Lady Day (25th March, which was New Year's Day until 1752). During the summer the land was demarcated into "Lammas Strips" and the valuable hay crop gathered during the year was mostly taken to London for sale.

Lammas Grazing ended on Leyton Marshes in 1904 and on Walthamstow Marshes in 1935.

Most of Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes are now owned by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and fall within the Lee Valley Regional Park boundary. The exception is Marsh Lane Fields in Leyton, which is outside the boundary and vested in the London Borough of Waltham Forest - the provisions of the 1904 Act under which Lammas grazing rights were commuted to (meaning given up in exchange for) the right of free access in perpetuity are still in force at Marsh Lane Fields. These rights were extinguished within the Regional Park by virtue of the compulsory purchases of the rest of Leyton Marshes and Walthamstow Marshes by the LVRPA after it was created in 1967.

The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee

The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee is a cross-borough local interest group, based in the Borough of Waltham Forest but drawing a considerable proportion of our membership from the Borough of Hackney and to some extent from further afield. We were founded over ten years ago and now have over 30 active members and a mailing list of nearly 200 supporters. The organisation monitors planning applications, carries out historical research, liaises with various users' groups and organises regular public walks and other events of local historical interest. We are not a practical conservationist or environmental improvements group, but do encourage active participation in such activities.

The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee are particularly concerned with preserving the wildlife habitat importance and unusually still-rural character of these former grazing meadows. We exist primarily to maintain Walthamstow and Leyton Marshes as green open space for relaxation and recreation and to help make local people more aware of their special historical value. However, we are also concerned with the historically and environmentally important former Lammas Lands of Hackney Marshes. We strongly wish the entire former Lammas Lands to remain as green open space, accessible to all, and also a contiguous whole within their historical context - unique in the London area.

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