Lea Marshes   1970s


See video of Save The Marshes Campaign at work producing Walthamstow Marshes: Our Countryside Under Threat in 1979.

10th July 2012

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for your letter of 17th June and I apologise for the delay in replying. It has been interesting looking at your web site and It is always good to know that people care about Walthamstow Marsh.

Perhaps I can fill you in on some of the history concerning our "Save the Marshes Campaign".and the documents you refer to.

The Campaign was launched in the summer of 1979 with the primary aim of defeating the planning application by the LVRPA to quarry gravel from Walthamstow Marsh. With the exception of The Triangle, which was not part of the application site, the whole of the ancient marshland from Coppermill Stream to the Leyton Marsh boundary would have been destroyed. As a result of our determined (and it has to be said - passionate) campaign, the GLC refused planning permission on 4th February 1980.

Our booklet "Walthamstow Marsh - Our Countryside Under Threat", from which you have used extracts on your site, was our main campaign document and was first published in 1979. The booklet was reprinted and revised in 1981 with important expanded field data from Brian Wurzell. Brian's data became the main evidence we used in persuading the Nature Conservancy Council (now Natural England) to designate the Marsh as an SSSI, but they certainly took their time over this - mainly because of the position they had taken in 1979 not to object to the planning application. At that time they had hardly any data at all about the flora and fauna of the Marsh.

The Campaign had to wait until 1985 for the NCC to finally notify Walthamstow Marsh as an SSSI and this was the decisive factor in persuading the LVRPA to consider designating and managing the Marsh as a nature reserve. In 1985 the still campaigning Campaign decided to change its name to the "Walthamstow Marsh Society" and in the 1986 Park Plan Review the LVRPA designated the Marsh as a nature reserve.

You have included on your site an extract of a map which, along with fellow campaigner David Gibbins, I co-authored and which we published in 1981. We produced 1,000 copies of the map.

The map took a whole year to research, survey, and devise the best cartography to accurately portray the Marsh in all its glory. The measured survey covers historical features, plant communities and topographic information, so it is an accurate record (and portrait) of Walthamstow Marsh and its heritage at that time. It subsequently formed the basis of our own management document titled "From Lammas Land to Nature Reserve" which pre-dated all the other management plans and it provided the base map used by the LVRPA and its various consultants' management plans, for several years after that.

When I can get around to it I could send you a complete photocopy of the 1981 Walthamstow Marsh Map, although the format is quite awkward to handle.

Our auger survey (an extensive auger survey of the buried gravel surface of the Marsh we had carried out) remains unpublished but is a vital piece of research which involved 500 small diameter hand-augured boreholes probing down to the underlying gravel surface. It demonstrates how the present subtle topography of Walthamstow Marsh still bears the imprint of the gravel channels and bars which were formed by the River Lea at the end of the last glacial period (Ice Age) around 10,000 years ago. It will get published eventually! We even have a scale-model of the buried channels and bars underlying Walthamstow Marsh which we constructed using the survey data.

For historical accuracy, could you please acknowledge the dates, sources and authorship of the extracted material you have used on your site as follows:

** Source "Walthamstow Marsh - Our Countryside Under Threat" first published 1979 and revised 1981 which was the main campaigning document of the Save the Marshes Campaign (1979 -1985).

** from this publication the sections titled "The Issue" and "Walthamstow Marshes" were written by Mike Knowles our Campaign Chairman.

** the section "Walthamstow Marshes - Our Heritage" was in fact written by David Gibbins.

** the 1822 map is not by me as you have listed it (I'm not that old!). It is by John Coe and we used it courtesy of the Vestry House Museum.

** Please could you add the source reference for Brian Wurzell's survey data i.e "Walthamstow Marsh - Our Countryside Under Threat".

** Please could you remove the embarrassing "Geological" description of the 1981 Walthamstow Marsh Map and explain that this is an extract only. Also could you please acknowledge the authorship of the map i.e John Nash and David Gibbins.

With Best Wishes
Yours sincerely,
John Nash