A Letter from Nantwich

July 2005

An all-in-one tourism building proposed

Events have overtaken this letter as the Tourist Information Centre has left the Parish Hall (below, right) and moved to the Civic Hall. But the idea outlined is still feasible.

Updates on this idea appear in my January 2006 and my August 2006 Letters from Nantwich. See also this Letter from Nantwich


IMAGINE these two buildings, and possibly a restaurant, incorporated into one new construction on the banks of the River Weaver. Well, that could happen in the not-too-distant future if an idea currently being put forward came to fruition.

    It was mooted in an article in the Nantwich Chronicle in April and returned to the fore recently when the Chairman of Nantwich Museum Trust Ltd (Robert Stones) told the Museum's AGM how he had replied to questions about rumours of a move by the museum. The Museum (left) is mentioned in the newspaper article, although they are not listed in a report on the Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council website on the project. I am not making any comment on that, other than stating the facts! 

   It is part of what the Chronicle called an "ambitious scheme to transform the River Weaver." That's a drawing of it on the left - in a "Conceptual Vision" drawn up by Bower Edleston, the Nantwich Architects, for Nantwich Forum "in association with the Schofield Brothers".

   The latter are three members of a very well-known Nantwich family.

   A visitors' centre, boating trips, fishing stages, play areas, a new bridge and improved walkways are all on the cards in the scheme. And all very commendable. But the part that caught my eye was the visitors' centre since it could involve the Museum, at which I am a Volunteer.

   The features have apparently all been "pencilled" in by a consortium comprising representatives of Nantwich Forum, Nantwich in Bloom committee, the Upper Weaver Valley Tourism Network and the three Schofield brothers.

   There is more on the plan (with a key) on another page. Click here.

   One of the first things that people (usually sceptics who don't have a vision of what

could be) ask when ideas such as this are proposed  is: "Where will the money come from?" It would come, it seems, from funding provided by the North West Development Agency and Cheshire Rural Recovery. The consortium has, I understand, already approached the two bodies. 

    A couple of sites have been suggested for the new multi-purpose building (both marked with a red "blob" on the scheme, left). One site

(above right) is to the rear of Nantwich Baths (which is at the edge of the large car park off the Waterlode extension). The new Thomas Fairfax Bridge and the ring road is to the left and the baths are to the right in the picture. 

   The other site is on Mill Island (below) where the old Nantwich Mill once stood. For the record, this would be the one that I would favour. Both schemes have the support of prominent Nantwich people.

    The picture (immediately below) is looking towards the Waterlode and High Street  The area in the centre of the picture, beyond the tree, is the part of the island where one suggestion would place the new building. There would still be plenty of space on Mill Island for the Sealed Knot to re-enact the Battle of Nantwich every January.

   In passing, pictured on the right is the old mill race which used to be an overflow channel through the mill when the water inlet for the motive power was closed - that is, not being used. It is taken looking towards the town bridge, with the Waterlode on the right. You can hardly see the town bridge in the distance for the willow trees, so I don't think any suggestion that a new building would spoil the view from the bridge - should it ever be put forward as an objection - would hold water. The old mill site is barely visible from the bridge these days. As I once wrote in another letter on my website!    

   The picture on the right is looking from the Waterlode over the river to the old mill site.

   The reason the Mill Island site would get my vote is that it is near to the town centre, at the bottom of Mill Street (although admittedly across the Waterlode "inner ring road" via pedestrian-controlled traffic lights) while the baths area is much further from the centre on foot and so might be less appealing for visitors to go to. And at a guess, the Mill Island site is nearer to Nantwich Square than the present Museum building in Pillory Street. But, would a building on the town bridge end of Mill Island look out of place? I don't think so. (See the suggestions on the other page.) 

   While the baths site is off a large car park, there is a car park off the Waterlode


and one across the river on the old gas works site - although this is described as "a potential development area" in the Nantwich Forum scheme. See this update

   It is suggested there should be a footbridge across the river at this point, so would a car park count as a "development"? The town has quite a number of car parks, although the fact that they always seem full indicates we could do with more! 

   I think that most visitors to the centre would walk there when they had already parked somewhere in town - rather than making a point of going directly to the centre, from a nearby car park, when they arrive in town. Unless they knew the town

well and were making a beeline for the centre they would park where they could and see what the town had to offer. 

   One thought that did occur to me was that maybe there could be a museum annexe in the new visitors' centre which could take the whole of the salt ship and some other museum exhibits while the main collection stayed put in the Pillory Street building. After all, the latest extension there was built as recently as 2000. At the moment the salt ship has been cut into three pieces for conservation (the tanks will not take it in one piece) and there seems little chance of getting more than one section in the present museum building. The annexe (I stress) is purely my own idea - although others may have had a similar idea.

   It has been suggested that the project could be up and running in 10 years' time. I would have thought a lot quicker than that if the enthusiasm being shown currently was converted into action and the money was available. But where would we be in the queue for cash, I wonder.  I am too long in the tooth to expect that there will not be prolonged discussions before anything actually happens.

   However, let's hope Alderman Butterill is right when he said (in the Chronicle): "I firmly believe the scheme will get off the ground and will be a huge boost to Nantwich and its tourism industry." Hear, hear.



The idea of a building being erected on Mill Island for the Museum to have a new - larger - home came up again in 2015 when the Chairman of the Museum Board of Management mentioned the idea.

   However, the idea. I'm told, came from Cheshire East Council rather than the Museum. 


A NEW IDEA (August 8, 2005): I have just thought of something. In view of the close proximity of the "behind-the-baths" site to the Thomas Fairfax Bridge (named after Sir Thomas Fairfax who led the Parliamentary army to our rescue in 1644 in the Battle of Nantwich), would this not be a good site for a small museum about the battle and incorporating details about the Sealed Knot? This would be in addition to a new visitors' centre which could then be on Mill Island.


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