A Letter from Nantwich        

Hydro-electric scheme will become a reality

FOR the past 12 years at least - according to the various articles in "A Dabber's Nantwich" - there have been plans to construct a Nantwich Mill hydro-electric scheme in the Riverside, providing electricity for events on Mill Island.

   I've been in favour of that since I first heard about plans for it. When it was just an idea, a hope for the future.

   Now that has come a little closer with a group of six local people, the partners, launching a website appealing for promises totalling 220,000 to construct such a scheme.

   Back in February 2006, in a Letter from Nantwich on this website, I wrote: 


   "Now there is an idea of using the cascading water to drive a turbine to provide electricity in the area. Occasional events such as the Battle of Nantwich or Nantwich Food Fair (this is no longer held on Mill Island) could be provided with electricity from such a turbine.

   "Yes, a generator could be provided with the same result, but this new idea would save having to use petrol (or whatever) to run the generator. Mother Nature would be the source of power.

   "All far fetched? Let's wait and see. Such ideas have a habit of becoming reality." 

   Then, after Cheshire East Council were facing some cutbacks, in a further Letter from


Nantwich (in February 2010), came news of a new organisation that is now well established - Greenspaces South Cheshire. At that time I wrote:  "A Cheshire East Council spokesman was quoted by the Nantwich Chronicle as saying: 'The Nantwich Riverside Project was externally funded. This funding has now ceased and as a result the (hydro-electric) project has been concluded. Cheshire East Council will, however, continue the maintenance of the existing facilities."  

  "Hopefully, the new Greenspaces organisation will be able to bring the project to fruition."


Now fast forward to September 2018  . . .

THINGS have changed a little since those early days, not least in that the mill race by Mill Island and the Waterlode will not be the location for the turbine.

   Of course, it was never officially said that the mill race would be the chosen spot.

   As the project website says: "Delivering clean green electricity, from an unobtrusive water turbine slotted into the weir on the River Weaver in the town centre, the project will power up the historic mill site contributing to the town's reputation as a thriving centre for food, culture and quality of life."

   The weir links the river to what is now known as the Weir Pool (I have always called it The Willows). The website refers to it as The Tail Pool.

   The new website says the Nantwich Mill hydro scheme "is all about tapping into the power of nature, generating funds for local action, while helping tackle the massive international challenge of cutting climate changing carbon emissions." 


l I don't intend to give all the details of the project in this article - partly because I don't want to steal the partners' thunder. For more information visit the website: www.nantwichhydromill.com.


   What will it cost and who will pay for it?

   The project needs "hundreds of people, and local companies, to pledge their backing for the project.

   "In the long run, we hope you will become shareholders committing seed-corn funding that will pay back benefits for the local community year after year."

   The partners stress: "We don't want your money now - just your pledge." When the time comes an e-mail will be sent to potential donors who have made pledges.



   What will the project look like? The website has illustrations of the turbine (that's one above) which has an Archimedes' screw in it, and a sketch superimposed on a picture of the weir area.

   The website says: "Small enough to not make a stir but big enough to power 15 to 20 homes and shops, the scheme will make a big impact from a small environmental footprint."

    Of course, it won't actually power homes and shops but events on Mill Island providing electricity to run them. Currently, the Battle of Nantwich in January is the only annual event staged on the island. But in the future . . .?

lTo see more about how the project will look, click on the eight links to similar small-scale community schemes elsewhere in the country on the project's website.


   What will happen? The land is owned by Cheshire East Council which has given permission for the partners to go ahead if they can "demonstrate they have funding in place to make it happen."

   The website invites people to "put pressure on the council" by writing to the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet "telling them that it is a good idea and you want them to release the land in order to give the project their

backing." There is a link on the project website to the Cheshire East Council website to help with this.


Mill Island, the site of various events.


   How will the project work? The website says "A comprehensive feasibility study by the UK's leading  independent hydro-electric experts, Derwent Hydro, has shown that this is not just technically feasible, but will be a great opportunity to invest in the future of the town."



The tail pool, aka the Weir Pool or The Willows. The turbine will be sited on the right of the weir, in the shade in this image.


Below left: the turbine location as seen from the opposite bank of the weir.



The quoted paragraphs in this article are taken from the website of Nantwich Mill Hydro Generation Ltd, edited and comments added by me.

   The picture of the turbine (left) is the copyright of Carter Jonas 2016. Again from the website.

   Other pictures are the copyright of this website.


   Who will benefit? The answer to that question is summed up in these comments: "This is a community project for the benefit of the community" and "All profits will be shared out to popular local community organisations, supporting a host of education, health and environmental improvements in the town. Current projections put this funding at 10,000-plus every year."


   Who will support the project? There are links to similarly-minded local organisations: Nantwich Civic Society, the Rotary Club of Nantwich, Cheshire Wildlife Trust, Greenspaces South Cheshire CIC, and the South Cheshire Friends of the Earth.


   Who are the six partners? Full profiles of them can be found on the website, but here are extracts:


   Jonathon Porritt CBE is a chartered engineer and Co-Founder of the Forum for the Future, a world-wide organisation. He is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. He was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in 2012.


   Jeremy Herbert    A Nantwich resident since the early 1990s, he is "committed to the town and its quality of life." He is a founder member of South Cheshire Friends of the Earth. A trained journalist, he has originated a

range of environmental campaigns. He is a Nantwich

Town Council representative for the Brookfield Allotments Association.  


    Mark Schofield is a Nantwich businessman. Born in Nantwich, he is a director of the family business with extensive property interests, and has won

accolades for restoring listed buildings in the town. He is

passionate about wildlife conservation and saving the planet's resources. 


   Nick Hall is a retired engineer. He worked in the defence and aerospace industries. He is interested

in the country's industrial heritage and promoting engineering to the younger generation. He takes



environmental matters seriously. He moved to Nantwich with his job 30 years ago, commuting as necessary while his family stayed put. 


   Doug Butterill "is a force of nature. If you see a green space in Nantwich he is likely to have planted it." The former Chairman of Nantwich in Bloom, Doug is Company Secretary of Greenspaces South Cheshire CIC. He is a former Councillor on Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council and a former Mayor of Nantwich. "Says he is retired but you would never know it."


   Nick Timperley, "the Mill's financial brain."  He is a retired chartered engineer, spending most of his career in the property industry, most notably 29 years for a major corporate. He is a founder member, a past president, and currently treasurer of the Rotary Club of Crewe and Nantwich Weaver. He was born, raised and educated locally, and has deep roots in Nantwich as the son of a local solicitor and school teacher. 


THE Chairman of the Partners is Stephen Welch. A director and chartered building surveyor and chartered building engineer, he is on the board of Byrom Clark Roberts, a multi-disciplinary practice specialising in architecture, building surveying, civil and structural engineering, and expert witness work.

   He and his wife, Pat, have a passion for community projects. Stephen has an interest in ecclesiastical property. He has a post graduate diploma in arbitration


The former Chairman of Nantwich Mill Hydro Generation Ltd was the late Fred Bowers.

In his days, there was a plan for 79 houses to be powered by the Nantwich Mill hydro project.

   He also gained fame with the annual Weaver Wander driving event organised by the Rotary Club of Crewe and Nantwich Weaver. He was the club's President in 2010-2011.



The mill race when the River Weaver was flowing calmly through it in the dry days of a hot summer.