Friends of the Welsh Harp

About the Welsh Harp

Originally built in the 1830s to provide water for London’s canals, Brent Reservoir (Welsh Harp) is 170 hectares of open water, marshes, woodland and grasslands.

The area became a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, as one of the most important bird breeding areas in Southern England. The reservoir provides a valuable habitat for wildlife as well as being an important area for recreation. In 2005 it was recognised as a Local Nature Reserve (LNR).

A world class wetlands habitat

In the 1980s, the Welsh Harp was transformed into a world class wetlands habitat.

The Northern and Eastern Marshes at the Welsh Harp were extensively reshaped using earth-moving tracked hydraulic vehicles and an Aquacat. Many tons of soil were moved. Islands were created. Willows were cleared. Essential channels were cut into the silt. Reed bed extensions were added. Eighty tons of shingle was brought in by the Environment Agency. A Mudcat suction dredger removed 15,000 cubic metres of silt. Nesting rafts were created. River traps were installed on the Brent and Silkstream.

It happened once, it can happen again. We're calling on the Canal and River Trust, Barnet Council, and Brent Council to restore the Welsh Harp to its former glory.

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The Welsh Harp in the 1980s. Credit: Leo Batten