Pub team clear rubbish from River Ver

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver.

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver. - Credit: YOFC

The team behind one of St Albans' iconic pubs have taken matters into their own hands and cleaned rubbish out of a stretch of the River Ver.

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks landlords Martin Robinson and Sam Walker hoped St Albans district council would remove rubbish blocking the river, which was stopping it from flowing through from the main section in Verulamium Park.

But as time progressed, they became frustrated with the lack of action and decided to take on the task themselves.

Together with some of the other pub staff, they spent hours over the weekend cleaning up the river. 

Martin said: "In the 11 years I have worked at the pub, the river has never flowed as it has been blocked by rubbish that people just throw into the river and tree branches that have stopped the stream running through from the park to the mill in front of the pub.

"I have watched this section of the river become more neglected over the years and can't understand how it has never been cleaned up so last week, I decided to buy an inflatable dinghy and get in the river myself and clear it.

"We spent 10 long hours cleaning up the river, we pulled out many bags of rubbish, everything from coffee cups to footballs, huge tree branches that were blocking the river flowing from the main section in the park.

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"The smell from the river was overwhelming and we were covered in river sludge from head to toe.

"When I came down to open the pub on Saturday morning, there were ducks and swans in the river outside the pub as they had been able to swim through. This is the first time I have ever seen this and it made all of our hard work the day before worthwhile.

However, there is still work to do, says Martin. "We are planning to continue our clean-up operation on the section of the river outside the pub and also the section on the other side of the bridge. We will be posting on our socials when the next clean-up is planned, and if anyone would like to come down and support us, we will shout them some beers!"

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver.

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver. - Credit: YOFC

Sam said they were overjoyed to see the river flowing again outside the pub. "We spent hours clearing the river, and we had so much support from people walking by, who said they were thrilled with what we were trying to do. Our hard efforts now means that the River Ver is flowing from the Six Bells on the other side of the park to the Olde Fighting Cocks.

Cleaning up the River Ver with the YOFC team.

Cleaning up the River Ver with the YOFC team. - Credit: YOFC

"Caring for the environment has to be at the top of every council in the country's agenda, and as the temperatures over the last few weeks have shown us, climate change is real and we have to do everything to protect the beautiful place that we live in."

Christine Traill, strategic director for community and place delivery for St Albans district council (SADC), said: ““Our grounds maintenance contractor takes action to keep Verulamium Park and its two artificial lakes in the best possible condition and also keeps an eye on the Ver.

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver.

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver. - Credit: YOFC

“We also work closely with the Environment Agency, drawing on their expertise on river issues.

“Together with the Agency and other partners, we are working on a plan to return the Ver to its more natural state as it flows through the park. This should also improve the water quality of the lakes.

“This is a complex, long-term project, and we are hoping to submit a detailed planning application later this year.

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver.

The team from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks removed rubbish from the River Ver. - Credit: YOFC

“So, It is good to see partners like Ye Olde Fighting Cocks staff doing their bit by clearing debris that has been thrown into the River Ver beside their premises.

“Our green spaces team are happy to discuss littering and fly-tipping with them or talk to any other business or community group with a concern.

“We regularly meet up with the Ver Valley Society whose volunteers do a great deal of valuable work to protect and enhance the river.”