The director of a community film project telling the story of the River Wandle has released an '"urgent plea" for the return of film footage after camera equipment and a storage card were stolen.

Volunteers involved in making the 'Living Wandle' film have reacted with "shock and horror" to the news that crucial scenes will have to be re-shot or cut from the script following the burglary at the Merton Abbey Mills office on Friday night.

Peter Wallder, who is directing the Heritage Lottery-funded film, said: "It's an absolute nightmare. We have gone completely over-budget and we are going to have to get replacements.

"People are shocked, not because of the camera itself, it's the footage which is really damaged. That's why it matters more than anything because that scene was a month in the planning."

The incident happened the night after a day of filming a scene in The Wheelhouse at Merton Abbey Mills, the riverside watermill where Victorian textiles designer William Morris once produced his renowned prints.

Half the footage from Friday was lost from a storage card left in one of the stolen cameras which was due to be downloaded the next day.

Mr Wallder is now appealing for donations to the charity project to help cover the costs of hiring filmmaking equipment and shooting extra scenes.

By the end of the week two of six stories charting the history of the river from the earliest settlers through its role in the 19th century industrial revolution to its role today will have been shot.

The film is being produced in collaboration with environmental charity Groundwork as part of the Living Wandle project, which aims to increase awareness of the heritage, environment and history of the river within the Wandle Valley Regional Park.

To help fund the film, due to be premiered on September 13, contact Peter Wallder on 0208 544 1944, or e-mail