A Letter from Nantwich

January 2009                                                                                                              Event Chairman talks to A Dabber's Nantwich

Battle site falls foul of skirmishes again

 THIS is Mill Island one week after the 2009 re-enactment of the Battle of Nantwich - which is not unlike its appearance after the Food and Drink Festival in 2008.

   True, we are in the middle of a cold and wet winter when many open spaces will be showing signs of wear and tear.

   Hopefully the green area will have been restored to its usual condition by the time people want to be taking a stroll on it.


Another view of a muddy Mill Island. For an idea of how it came to be

in this condition, see below.

Two views of the Battle of Nantwich re-enactment by the Sealed Knot on Holly Holy Day. The picture on the left shows that the ground does not appear to have recovered from damage which occurred at the time of the 2008 Food and Drink Festival. That on the right shows how the ground suffers damage when it is wet.


   February 2009  

Holly Holy Day Chairman talks to A Dabber's Nantwich

Looking to raise funds for island drainage

FOLLOWING the Letter from Nantwich on the subject of damage at Mill Island, the Chairman of the Holly Holy Day Committee, Shaun Cafferty, sent me an

 e-mail. He has given me permission to use his comments









This is Mill Island on a sunny day. Could it be a venue for more Nantwich events?  Could the land be strengthened to cope with "heavy duty" events such as the Battle of Nantwich re-enactment and wear and tear at highly popular festivals?












THANKS for the coverage and support (on this website) of Holly Holy Day.

   The Mill Island point is a tricky one. I was dismayed to see how Mill Island looked back in October 2008, with deep vehicle grooves and scarred areas from both the food festival and the building of the new bridge, and from improvements near the Waterlode entrance.

   I was surprised that no apparent effort had been made to correct any of this as it was obvious that likely weather conditions would aggravate the situation much further over the winter, furrows filling with water, etc.
   As you know, the state of the ground caused the cancellation of the bonfire and firework celebration planned at the end of the battle re-enactment. We were fortunate that the battle was able to proceed at all. This

was achieved by placing large amounts of straw on the worst battle and spectator areas.
   One issue that seems to come up often is that Mill Island seems to drain surprisingly badly, so that any sustained pedestrian traffic on the grass (let alone a large event) soon destroys the grass and causes muddy areas. I understand that the drainage issue has been looked at and will cost about 10,500.

   Recognising the importance of Mill Island as both an everyday leisure facility and an event venue, a number of voluntary bodies are looking into whether they could not raise some of this money, and ask the public authorities then to make up the rest.

   There are also forms of turf and turf laying that are designed to help grass cope with heavier use, and this also merits serious consideration.

    In a town with a growing reputation and economic growth as a tourist venue, through events like Holly



Brass band concerts on Mill Island?

SHAUN Cafferty admitted "There have been a few mutterings about Mill Island being used for the battle re-enactment."

  He said these were mostly from those "who would prefer to see Mill Island not used at all, merely looked at!"

   He added: "I would like to see a public debate about the merits of investing in Mill Island, so that it could more easily support these and other events without becoming an unsightly quagmire.



    "There are drainage systems and turf

designed for this kind of heavier usage."If this were done we could see Nantwich have its own little showground which could have a variety of uses on odd days and weekends throughout the year, adding to the ambience without damaging its fabric or its amenity as a grassy open place for the citizens.

   "I am thinking maybe the odd brass band concert in the summer - or a craft fair."


Holy Day, the Food Festival, and the Jazz Festival, etc,

perhaps we need to invest in Mill Island so that it can host these (and other) events without the recurring problems we are seeing. Such facilities exist elsewhere in the country, so it can be done, and it might attract other occasional small events and festivals here to the benefit of the townspeople and the economy.
   The alternative locations mentioned would suffer just the same problems with mud and grass destruction, but are further from town. Mill Island's proximity to the town centre means that people attending events also, almost invariably, visit and spend much-needed money in the town itself, as was very certainly the case on Holly Holy Day. It also helps attract greater public interest and attendance at the event, and is by far the easiest venue to use if charging for admission.  

   Larger events may be able to cope differently, but  Holly Holy Day is an entirely voluntary, small, non-profit-


making event which sustains a local tradition, entertains the townsfolk, and attracts business to the town. 

   It is dependent financially on the crowds paying to watch, and whilst I am working to reduce the amount of this dependency, it will nevertheless remain a significant factor.

   The practicalities of staging this annual event at a different location pretty much mean that it would fold, unless even larger local grants were forthcoming, and surely that money would be better invested in making the venue more suitable and hardy for its purpose.
   I guess the local people and local authorities have to firstly decide whether they want a food festival and/or a Holly Holy Day, and the other various festivals and entertainments that you see here but don't see in many other towns these days, and if so what kind of price they are prepared to pay for them.


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

Mill Island site for tourism building? | Big Battle of Nantwich in pictures | Andrew Gillitt's big day | Letters index 


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