Volunteers clean up the River Thames in Isle of Dogs and uncover finds including a cannonball

VOLUNTEERS put on their wellies and unconcerned about the muck, got down to the edge of the River Thames in the Isle of Dogs today and yesterday to help in a river clean-up.

Taking advantage of the lowest tide this year to join in the deep clean organised by waterways charity Thames 21, they uncovered a cannon ball, an Indian passport, a giant tyre and a windlass, a mechanism used to winch ropes on sailing boats, thought to be over 100 years old.

Around 100 volunteers over both days also got on with the task of clearing the foreshore of plastic bags which collect in the mud on the river bend and are harmful to birds and fish when they break down and are eaten.

The charity says the Isle of Dogs is one of the worst affected areas for plastic bag litter in London and estimates that volunteers have removed 250,000 bags from this area since 2001.

Rita Serra, Thames21’s east London co-ordinator, said: “Seeing the volunteers do it, it’s really spot-on what they do and they can see the difference they’ve made by the time they go home.”

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Starting from the Poplar slipway in Ferry Street on Sunday and from the Newcastle Draw Dock off Saunders Ness Road today, volunteers included a group of east London scouts, based at the Docklands Settlement Centre.

Will Austin, of Poplar, found a clay pipe believed to be from around 1850.

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Simon Reddecliff and Nick Pillans, both from Greenwich, found the heavy windlass on Sunday.

Anyone unable to join in could upload their photos of the Thames and share them on Twitter, to give volunteers a guide for future clean-ups.

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