A Letter from Nantwich

June 2006

Clock watching

The plaque in the pavement near to

Churche's Mansion . . .

. . . and one in Pepper Street, home of the Post Office.

VISITORS to Nantwich are being encouraged to become clock watchers. Or, at least, to watch where they are going by brass clock plaques set in pavements around town. Like the two above.

   It is all to do with a new version of the town guide, "Take a Closer look at Nantwich", just published by Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council and the Town Centre Management people, with support and assistance from Nantwich Civic Society. It can be obtained through the Tourist Information Centre at the Civic Hall in Market Street (tel 01270 610983), Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council venues and "many town outlets".

   After giving some of the history of the town, the A4 fly (folded) booklet takes the visitor to The Square, where there is the 1 o'clock plaque set in the pavement near to Nantwich Bookshop at 46 High Street. The Queen's Aid House (they spell it "Aide") and Castle Street - leading to the supposed site of the town's wooden castle - are also in the area.

   After detailing more history, the booklet moves on to the Museum in Pillory Street near to which is the 2 o'clock plaque. And so on . . .

   Not that the visitor is expected to take a full hour to absorb everything and then walk the couple of hundred yards to the museum. Although some people I know take a lot of time over such things, even they couldn't fill an hour on such a trek.

   No, it is all symbolic. The full walk is estimated to be three miles long and take one-and-a-half to two hours to complete. If that is too much, a shorter (unspecified time and distance) walk is suggested. A useful map is included in the booklet, which takes visitors to 15 locations in the town - 1 o'clock to 12 o'clock with some half hours - from The Square, as I said, up to the Shropshire Union Canal and the aqueduct at the top of Welsh Row (10 o'clock).

   The route then comes back to Church Lane - and the former Lamb Hotel - and the parish church.

   Of course, some visitors may have to take in Mill Island (10.30pm), Mill Street (11 o'clock) and Chatterton House (12 o'clock) out of sequence, because the canal - by which they came to Nantwich - will be the end of their tour. I know of two couples who came to live in Nantwich because they fell in love with the town while "dropping in" during a holiday on the inland waterways system.             

   An introduction to the booklet says the walk has been provided as a "taster for the lovely town of Nantwich and all she (sic) offers." I thought only ships were "ladies".

   But it certainly will be a good way of finding out about the town. Much better than a billed "walk around the town" a friend and I had on a foreign holiday many years ago. Expecting a tour with historical information, we were surprised to find it was literally a walk round the town - up in the hills above, from which we could look down as we circumnavigated it!

   The standard of the fixing-in of the plaques varies and some look a little stark (see the left-hand picture above). Perhaps they will weather in shortly.  

   And I presume tests have been made on the polished surface. We don't want visitors - nor locals either, for that matter - going home with a souvenir of a broken leg.

   The booklet also contains many advertisements to point the visitor to the local shops, as well as some useful information. But for me, the highlights of the booklet are the colour pen-and-ink sketches of Nantwich by the artist J. Haydn Jones who sadly died in 1997. His work appears in many a Nantwich home. That's the Queen's Aid(e) house in The Square on the front cover, above. Others are black and white drawings.

    The pictures are used with the permission of A. B. & H. Prints who sell Haydn's work on behalf of the J. Haydn Jones Estate.    


UPDATE: Quoted in the Nantwich Guardian of June 29, Elaine Dodd, the town centre manager, said: "It is our intention that the guide remains flexible and the clock faces can be easily added to in the future by using various minutes around the clock."

Included in the brochure is the "Nantwich - A Hidden Treasure" logo (left) from Nantwich Forum - something that I have always had mixed feelings about.

   All right, maybe the town wasn't as well known in the past as it is today (although I am sure it has been known to many people throughout the country for centuries). From that point of view, the "hidden" tag has some meaning.

   But I can't help feeling that it has the opposite meaning to what is intended. It's a bit like saying: "We're here. But don't tell anyone." In fact, we want everyone to shout it from the rooftops that Nantwich is here, and a town well worth visiting. That is what I try do, any way!

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