A Letter from Nantwich

October 2008 :: Page redesigned August 2015

Mill Island churned up by annual festival




Left: The Mill Island site after the Food and Drink festival. Below: as it normally looks




THIS is not a ploughed field on a Nantwich farm, but a normally attractive green area in the centre of  town. Mill Island looked like this after the 2008 Nantwich Food and Drink Festival had taken place. 

   I am not sure if the damage was caused by the feet of the many visitors - it's a strange shape and too concentrated to be a site of the marquees - or the vehicles which presumably go on to the site to remove whatever goes to make up the Festival - including the rubbish left behind.

   Presumably it wasn't so neat after the festival closed and has been levelled in a bid to help the green area get back to its normal state.

   The event is good for the town and I am pleased we host it every year but the site is, apparently, going to take three months to recover. Just in time for the re-enactment of the Battle of Nantwich in January. And then, no doubt (unless the ground is frozen hard and damage resistant) the feet of the Sealed Knot members will churn it up again. Will that


mean a further three months of an unsightly surface? 

   So the question is: is this the right site for the event? Nantwich Town Councillors are calling for the event to be re-sited and are deciding whether they wish to continue contributing 2,000 towards the costs of running it. Quoted in the Nantwich Chronicle of October 15, Cllr Arthur Moran (town, borough and county councillor) said: "I was gobsmacked to see Mill Island is such a mess."

    Fellow town and borough councillor, Cllr Bill McGinnis added: "We really need to consider whether having Mill Island out of action for three or four months is worth having the festival there. The site was looking so good this summer thanks to the efforts of Nantwich in Bloom committee and the (borough) council staff."

   A call two years ago to move the Festival, which was said to be getting too big, was met with the comment that businesses involved would suffer if it was re-sited. But what about the suffering of the town as a whole if this is the sight that greets visitors?

   It has been suggested that Dorfold Park, on the Chester side of town - the site of Nantwich and South Cheshire Show, the annual agricultural event - or Reaseheath, where the Sealed Knot Summer Muster was staged in 2007, could be ideal sites. The beer festival could still be staged in the Civic Hall and the Farmers' Market could stay on The Square, it is said. Presumably it would be staged anyway.  

   Other contenders for hosting the festival would


be Brookfield Park or Barony Park - both on the outskirts of the town centre. But why should either be subjected to the damage seen at Mill Island?

   Back in the early 1970s there was a public outcry when the revived Holly Holy Day event, commemorating the Battle of Nantwich, resulted in Barony Park being churned up.

   The festival had caused problems to people living in

the Millfields area because the event blocked off Mill Island from the town centre and residents had to take a longer route into town via Welsh Row.

  That problem was solved by laying a footpath across one side of the Island (above), and constructing a temporary fence at the side of it during the festival weekend to contain the event.
















The picture on the left, looking towards the Castle Court housing development, shows the puddles which formed in the churned-up soil after heavy rain.   Above: A panoramic view of Mill Island - what could be a pleasant scene of autumn leaves in the sunshine marred by the damage.

What the Food and Drink Festival people think about new site



IN the interests of balanced reporting, I contacted the Food and Drink Festival people who didn't wish to take up my offer of making a comment.

   However, the Chairwoman of the Festival, Miranda Shufflebotham, was quoted in the Nantwich Chronicle (October 29) as saying: "To hold a large event will leave some mess, but how efficient have the borough council been in making


it good?" She added: "Times are going to be very tough next year for our shops. We must have more visitors and use many events to achieve this.

   "There is united opinion amongst all shops that moving the festival out of town would be highly detrimental to their business."

   She pointed out that other events held at Dorfold Park and Reaseheath brought no extra visitors to Nantwich.

Battle of Nantwich introduction | Battle over timing of event | Let battle commence | Winter commemoration saved | Festival churns up island

Scheme to finance island drainage | Big Battle of Nantwich | Mill Island daffodils survive | Mill Island site for tourism building? | Letters index | Official Holly Holy Day website


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