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King George V Reservoir

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The King George V Reservoir, also known as King George’s Reservoir and KGV Reservoir is part of the chain of Lea Valley reservoirs in east London. It covers 170 hectares (420 acres), making it London’s largest. It is one of the two Chingford Reservoirs (the other being William Girling) that are together designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The reservoir is a major wintering ground for wildfowl and wetland birds, including nationally important numbers of some species. The water also forms a moult refuge for a large population of wildfowl during the late summer months. The reservoir is in the London Borough of Enfield. It is owned and managed by Thames Water, with access by permit only.

Address: King George V Reservoir, Lea Valley Road, Chingford, London E4 7PX. Map:; OS grid reference (entrance gate) TQ373950.

History Edit

The reservoir was conceived as part of an overall plan for a string of reservoirs on the Lea Valley floodplain to provde London with water for drinking and for industrial use. Construction began in 1908 and the reservoir was opened in 1913 by King George V (hence the name).

Habitat Edit

The reservoir is contained by a grass-covered embankment, which has a maximum height of 10m (33ft) and a total bank length of 6.5km (4 miles). The embankment consists of a central puddle clay core with shoulder filling comprising a mixture of river terraced gravels and alluvial deposits. An earth embankment divides the reservoir into two compartments. The reservoir offers a larger area of water than any other London reservoir, but it is also the shallowest of London’s larger reservoirs. Channelled River Lea waterways pass either side of the reservoir, and there is some rough grassland and scrub at the foot of the embankment.

Species Edit

Birds— During the winter months King George V Reservoir (along with the neighbouring William Girling Reservoir) supports nationally important populations of Shoveler and Great Crested Grebe. Other wildfowl that winter here in important numbers include Goosander (which can often be seen fishing in the concrete-lined River Lea Flood Relief Channel along the eastern margin of the reservoir), Goldeneye and Tufted Duck. There is also a good chance of seeing Great Northern Diver and occasionally other divers, as well as Black-necked Grebe (for which William Girling Reservoir is a nationally important site). The two reservoirs also support one of London’s main winter gull roosts, with the count reaching 50,000 or more — mainly Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull, but always with the possibility of something more interesting.

The reservoir also offers a good vantage point during the spring and autumn migration, when small passerines can be funnelled up the thin belts of grassland and scrub alongside the reservoir. Interesting waders and terns can also be seen on passage through the valley. A total of 85 wetland species have been recorded in recent years.

As with most London reservoirs, the variety of breeding birds is limited.

Other vertebrates — The reservoir is stocked with fish. Information needed, please

InvertebratesInformation needed, please

Practicalities Edit

Directions — Vehicular access for permit-holders is from Lea Valley Road (A110), at the south-east corner of the reservoir. The nearest railway stations are Ponders End, about 1.5km west of the reservoir entrance, and Chingford, about 2.5km to the east. Both are national rail stations with services from London Liverpool Street. Bus route 313 (Chingford to Potters Bar) runs along Lea Valley Road, starting at Chingford railway station and passing close to Ponders End station.

Access — Access to the reservoir is by permit only, obtained from Thames Water, which is currently (2012) reviewing access arrangements. Further information needed, please

FacilitiesAnybody know whether visiting birders are able to use the canteen and bar at the yacht club? About 0.5km east of the reservoir gate is the Royal Oak at 219 Kings Head Hill (E4 7PP), a McMullens house serving typical pub food. In the opposite direction, 1km away (and not far from Ponders End station) in Wharf Road (EN3 4XX) is the Navigation, a Harvester Pub and Grill, next to the River Lee Navigation and with a view across rough grassland and scrub to the reservoir embankment.


This page has been cobbled together from various internet sources by someone who has never visited the site but thinks that it deserves a page on this website because it keeps cropping up on the Latest News page. If you are familiar with the site, please correct, expand and/or update this information (and delete or amend this paragraph).

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