Inventory Site Record

WWT London Wetland Centre (Richmond)

Brief Description

The Wetland Centre was built by The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust on the site of the former Barn Elms reservoirs owned by Thames Water, prior to which the land was used for market gardens and allotments, and it had formerly been part of the Barn Elms estate. The four concrete reservoirs had become redundant due to the building of the Thames Water Ring Main; Thames Water wished to use the land sympathetically and at that time Sir Peter Scott, founder of WWT, was looking for a site within London for a WWT Centre. Work to create the Wetlands Centre took c. 5 years and it opened in May 2000. Outside the Peter Scott Visitor Centre is a bronze sculpture of Scott with two Bewick's Swans by Nicola Godden.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Barn Elms Reservoirs
Site location:
Queen Elizabeth's Walk, Barnes
SW13 9WT
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
Opening times:
Daily: 9.30am - 6pm (summer); 9.30am - 5pm (winter)
Special conditions:
Admission charge (check website). No dogs other than working/trained assistance dogs
Discovery Centre, Theatre, Gallery, Water's Edge Café, shop, parking, toilets.
Trails, numerous educational events/facilities.
Public transport:
Rail: Barnes. Tube: Hammersmith (District, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City) then bus. Bus: 283, 209, 72, 33. Riverboat service to Richmond
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.wwt.org.uk

Full Site Description

The area was once part of Church lands belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The manor house, known as Barn Elms, became the mansion of Sir Francis Walsingham, Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth, which was destroyed by fire and demolished in 1949. Part of the former estate lands became Barn Elms Playing Fields (q.v.) adjacent to the London Wetland Centre.

Thames Water sold around 10 hectares of the c. 53 hectares to Berkeley Homes for development and a percentage of profits resulting from their sale of these houses, known as Barnes Waterside, was used to develop the basic landscaping and construction of the Peter Scott Visitor Centre buildings.

The Wetland Centre was designed to maximise the feeding, roosting and breeding opportunities for a diversity of water birds, including those species that are rare and endangered in southern England. The emphasis on diversity led to the creation of a range of habitats, which include 14 World Wetlands areas along west side showing habitats of the Falklands, Australia, tropical swamp forest, Hawaii, East Asia, North America, Scandinavia, Siberia, Spitsbergen, Iceland, South West Asia, Africa and South America. East of this area are lakes with hides: Reservoir Lagoon, a deep water lake with artificial fish reefs to attract diving ducks and fish-eating birds such as grey herons and cormorants; the Main Lake and Sheltered Lagoon attracting wintering and moulting ducks; Reed Beds are grazing marshland meadow drained in summer to provide nesting sites for waders; Wader Scrape, whose water levels are lowered to expose areas of mud as feeding ground for probing waders. Other features are three sustainable gardens, created by garden designers. There are also children's activities and educational displays in a number of pavilions: Pond Zone, Duck Tales.

Sources consulted:

Wetland Centre leaflet and website.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ226768 (522619,176829)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Site management:
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust
Wetlands Advisory Agency
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - SSSI
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Thames Policy Area
Other LA designation:

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.