Artist Gordon Wilkinson paints Ashton Hayes
PUBLISHED: 11:17 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 17:56 20 February 2013
Our watercolour artist Gordon Wilkinson paints Ashton Hayes, a little village with big ideas
Theres more to Ashton Hayes than meets the eye. These beautiful watercolours by Gordon Wilkinson show it is a lovely, tranquil village, where the streets are lined with pretty cottages and lovingly-tended gardens.
But what Gordons paintings cannot show is the green revolution that has taken hold of Ashton Hayes in the last five years.
This is a village on a mission, where the 1,000 or so residents are leading the fight against climate change and doing their bit to make Ashton Hayes the UKs first carbon neutral village.
Insulation has been added, old boilers replaced and trees planted and the results are impressive. The villages annual carbon emissions are down by about 25 per cent since the project began in November 2005.
Garry Charnock, who suggested the project, said: We are just ordinary folk trying to do what we can. This wasnt about installing expensive turbines or anything like that, we wanted people to save energy without spending money. In fact saving energy results in saving money.
I thought someone somewhere had to start the ball rolling and if we cant do it in a nice place like this, then we have no chance anywhere.
The movement has gathered pace in Ashton Hayes. They now have a carbon-cutting twin in the Norwegian village of Nottoroy and a 500,000 government grant to spend on more energy saving measures.
And while the carbon neutral scheme is about helping to tackle global issues, it has also had a real impact close to home. Those involved say there has been a noticeable boost to community spirit and that is perfectly demonstrated by the new-look village shop.
When the closure of the village shop was mooted, locals worked together to create a community shop, staffed by volunteers and stocked with locally-grown fruit and veg and jams, soups and beers made nearby.
The shop is also the base of the Ash-Worth Time Bank, another community initiative which has more than 300 members and supporters in Ashton Hayes and neighbouring villages. The scheme the only one of its kind in Cheshire pairs tradespeople with those who need work doing and provides help with housework, errands or transport.
The Ashton Hayes shop is open Monday to Friday from 7.30am-6pm; Saturday 8am-5pm and Sunday 8am-12pm. For more information call 01829 751210.
In 1933 a 13th century pottery kiln was discovered in a garden. It contained thousands of fragments of broken pottery and some have been reconstructed, forming about 30 jugs and pitchers, which are now in the Grosvenor Museum, Chester.
To encourage villagers to use their car less, a footpath has been created between Ashton Hayes and Mouldsworth, the nearest railway station.
Ashton Hayes Cricket Club have played their home matches on a field in the grounds of the Ashton Hayes Estate for more than 100 years.
For more information about the village visit the Parish Council's website, www.ashtonhayespc.co.uk
Where it is: Ashton Hayes sits among fields about six miles east of Chester and a couple of miles south of Delamere Forest, close to the A54. The nearest railway station is at Mouldsworth and a footpath links the two villages. Type CH3 8AB in your satnav to get you there.
Where to park: There is on-street parking around the village, but take care on the narrow roads to be considerate to the residents.
What to do: Take a stroll around the village and enjoy a drink at the Golden Lion which is aiming to become England's first carbon neutral pub.
Gordon Wilkinson has been Cheshire Lifes watercolour artist since the 1990s.
All his original watercolours featured in this article are for sale. Contact Gordon on 01244 531785, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
More of his work - including paintings he created for Cheshire Life - can be viewed at www.gordonwilkinson.com