The Wandle - once classified as a sewer because of its filthy water - has changed course to win a place on a list of Britain's most improved rivers.

The waterway, which flows through areas of south west London including Colliers Wood, Wimbledon and Morden, was named in a national top-ten published by the Environment Agency on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Government agency said in previous years the Wandle had suffered "extreme pollution" - and in the 1960s was declared a sewer.

In 2007 chemicals from a sewage works in Beddington were accidentally flushed into the Wandle by Thames Water, killing about 2,000 fish. The company was later fined £50,000 for its mistake.

The river has since been targeted by schemes to clean it and re-populate it with wildlife.

This week an environment agency spokesman said: "The Wandle is now well known as one of the best urban coarse fisheries in the country and supports a huge variety of wildlife supporting a wide variety of species including chub, barbel and eel."

Regular clean-up operations and wildlife projects in the waterway are organised by charity the Wandle Trust.

Spokesman Theo Pike said: "Water quality is really notieceably improving - and wildlife is improving too."

He said recent good news included the discovery that trout were spawning succesfully in the river for the first time in about 80 years.

The Wandle flows into the Thames from sources in Croydon and Carshalton, and from the 14th to 20th centuries was at the centre of a busy textile industry. Mills along the river also ground corn, wheat, tobacco and gunpowder.

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