Leg o’ Mutton Reservoir

The Leg o’ Mutton Reservoir was built in 1838 for Thames Water with a capacity of 102,000m³ of water; increased to 260,000m³ in 1879. It supplied local water until 1960, when it was decommissioned, and housing was planned for the site but local residents fiercely opposed this through several public enquiries. The Council purchased the area from Thames Water in 1970 and it was managed as a public space until 1990 when it was re-designated as a Local Nature Reserve, and later registered as a Site of Borough (Grade 1) Importance for Nature Conservation in 1993. The reserve is 800m long and 100m wide. It is owned and managed by Richmond Council with an Advisory Committee made up of representatives from local organisations.

It is home to a wealth of wildlife from teal to terrapins! Its invertebrate residents include stag beetle, oak bush cricket, speckled wood and other butterflies. Birdlife includes shoveler, pochard, grebe, tufted duck, teal and cormorant on the water, with sparrowhawk, kestrel, tawny owl, warblers and woodpeckers nesting in the trees and reedbeds. Herons nest both on the rafts and in the trees. Flora covers many common species such as hawthorn, bramble and reed, but also the rarer ploughman’s spikenard and dark mullein. The imposing hybrid poplars are believed to be 170 years old.

Management covers an annual topping-up of water, regular coppicing of the willows, reedbed management, pollarding of the poplars and removal of the self-sown sycamore, Norway maple and ash. In preparation for the eventual demise of the hybrid poplars, some black poplars, which are significant indigenous trees, have been planted.

Management is undertaken by LBRuT contractors, Nature’s Gym, and the Advisory Committee. For more information please contact the Parks Department on 020 8891 1411 or email parks@richmond.gov.uk.

If you are interested in volunteering please email naturesgym@glendale-services.co.uk or call 07825 860459

Special thanks to Andrew Wilson for allowing us to use a selection of photographs from “Wild About Barnes”.