Middlesex Filter Beds
This ten acre haven for wildlife is a short walk from the neighbouring WaterWorks Centre nature reserve.
Built by the East London WaterWorks Company in the mid 1800’s they demonstrate how previously industrial areas can become valuable habitats for wildlife.
In 1852 London suffered its worst ever outbreak of cholera, a lethal disease which thrives in contaminated water. The Middlesex Filter Beds were built soon after as part of the effort to make sure such epidemics were never repeated.
When the beds closed in 1969, nature began to take over, but now the site is a thriving mix of open water, reedbeds and wet woodland habitats.
Come and visit and you may well see toads, frogs and newts, dragonfly and damsel fly, plus over 60 different species of bird. The filter beds also boast Paula Haughney’s monumental Nature’s Throne, made from huge granite blocks salvaged from an old engine house. Find out more about art in the park (link to art in the park page).
Wildlife at Middlesex Filter Beds
With a variety of habitats the filter beds provide interesting wildlife throughout the year. The wooded areas are excellent for flocks of tits and finches. Look out for Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker. Kestrel and Sparrowhawk are found on the reserve and will also hunt on the adjacent open grassland of Hackney Marshes.
The brickwork of the old bed walls provides shelter for amphibians and in spring the wetlands are home to frogs, toads and newts. The weir is a good spot for Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher, which nest along the banks.
More than 200 plant species have been recorded including Cuckooflower and Purple Loosestrife. There’s also a community of interesting mosses and liverworts along the old walls of the beds.
How to get here
You can reach the Middlesex Filter Beds on foot from either Hackney Marshes or Lea Bridge Road via the towpath. There’s a network of surfaced paths. The nearest car park is at the adjacent WaterWorks Centre.