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The Wandle Trail

Industries of the Wandle

The Wandle Today

Industries of the Wandle

Industries of the Wandle

Even though the Wandle is only 19km (11m) long, it has supported many industries.

The first mills were corn mills, then came fulling mills. In the 17th century the number of mills increased and so did the products. The mills produced paper, gunpowder, iron, dyes and copper. Into the 18th century the number of mills grew producing snuff, leather, drugs (not drugs as we think of them but oils from herbs), peppermint, oil mills (such as lavender oils), calico and silk.

By the early 1900s there were just four mills left on the river. The last textile print works 'Liberty Print Works' at Merton Abbey closed in 1982. The exact number of mills that have existed along the Wandle Valley may never be known. Numbers vary from 30 up to as many as 100. The one thing we do know is that as quoted in 1805 it was "the hardest worked river for its size in the world".

Today you will still find industries along the banks of the river. Sadly none of these now use the power of the river.