The lure of Lymm
PUBLISHED: 10:24 19 May 2010 | UPDATED: 15:39 20 February 2013
No matter how often you visit the typical Cheshire village of Lymm you find something different and appealing.
Lymm is undoubtedly a beautiful Cheshire village, with its peaceful canals, dams, woodland and historical buildings which are a delight to behold. There are also plenty of excellent shops, pubs and speciality eating places where you get a really warm welcome.
But there is also another side to Lymm and that's the number of societies and social events available to residents. One of the biggest occasions of the year is the Lymm Festival which takes places in June and July. Honor Giles, the festival organiser, says: 'This will be our tenth anniversary and we are hoping to make it the best ever. We are particularly hoping to involve as many of the community as possible in our various events. Many of our ideas are still at the planning stage. For instance, if possible because this is our tenth year and is a tin anniversary we would like to build a giant tin man and have him in the village centre.
'Another idea is to have our usual big concert organised by Nicholas Cox who is the principal clarinettist for the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. We also hope to include many of the features we have had before such as the street fun and food festival. This was a huge success last year. The centre of the village becomes a giant street caf with Lymm's food traders cooking and serving the visitors.
The food is accompanied by entertainment. There will also be a repeat of the festival picnic to be held in the beautiful grounds of Cotebrook House. There will be dining in style as well as many different types of music. ' Then there's the Lymm Festival Scarecrow Trail during June which is usually great fun for those who take part and onlookers. Follow the trail round the gardens of Lymm and view the cheerful or sometimes scary scarecrows on show.
Lymm Jubilee Gardening Club started off 22 years ago with a handful of gardeners meeting in each others' houses and it was part of Lymm Jubilee W.I. 'Then it just grew and grew,' says Helen Stevenson present secretary of the club, 'and we moved to the village hall with 120 members. Eventually we held an extraordinary general meeting at which we decided whether or not to let men join the club! Of course it was agreed. So this number grew again and we had a waiting list so we moved into the Baptist church hall and increased our membership to 150. Now we have had to start our waiting list again. We attract people from all over the area and because of our size our finances are good which means we can afford good speakers.
'We also have an annual three-day trip to Holland and we visit gardens and recently included Highgrove. We have a plant sale every year and we recently made 550 for charity. For the last two years we have held a gardeners' question time with four of our members on the panel but we hope when we celebrate our 25th anniversary to have the real thing. We have applied to the BBC to have a Gardeners Question Time in Lymm during 2012. There is a three-year waiting list.'
The village is set in beautiful countryside and its history goes back as far as the 7th century AD when the first people settled there, no doubt attracted by the nearby stream.
Lymm appears in the Domesday Book under the name of Lime. Its best known landmark is the ancient cross in the centre of the village with a history almost lost in time.
It may have originated as a meeting place for itinerant preachers. Legend has it that John Wesley preached from the steps. Throughout the years the cross has been the centre of the many different festivities connected with village life. Apparently the stocks were there too!
The building of the Bridgewater Canal in the 1760s split the centre of Lymm in two, passing right through the square but today it acts as a picturesque background to village life. In the early days the canal was used to transport coal, cloth and many other goods .Because agriculture was the main activity in the area farm produce was brought from miles around to the Lymm wharves.
Today, agriculture still thrives in and around Lymm but the methods of farming have changed considerably. David Nurse lives on a farm which was built 150 years ago. 'My predecessors on this farm would have grown different kinds of crops as well as tended to animals,' says David. Farmers were traditionally mixed in those days. It is only within the last 30 years that they have started specialising in just one thing.'
David looks after 100 cows and sells their milk and breeds young ones to replace the older cows. Some of his cows are 16 or 17 years old. 'Farmers don't milk by hand any more. It's all done by machines because we can milk more cows with less people.' he says. According to David, people - including myself - seem to think that cows spend their whole lives in the field. 'But they don't, he says. 'They are out from April unit October. In the winter they come inside and have their food brought to them. They are under covered sheds and have their own cubicles.' And yes, farmers do have their favourite animals. 'I've had my bull for 10 years and most of the cows recognise you when you go into the field. If there is a stranger with me they keep away. '
David belongs to the Bollin Farm Farmers, a group in the Cheshire area who collaborate and put in big orders for animal food and other things, thereby getting reasonable prices. David's wife Rebecca is a lecturer in dental technology. 'She helps on the farm too and gives a hand moving cattle up and down the road,' he says.
Lymm boasts one of the largest Women's Institutes in Cheshire with 114 members. Secretary Gillian Fuller says it started in 1965 because another local institute had such a big waiting list at the time.
'Now we are bigger than they are. We have a handicraft group, a walking group, a book club and take part in most county organised occasions like the Cheshire Show. I have been a member since 1972 and while it has changed over the years I think we are still a friendly and supportive group - particularly towards widows. I think the WI is a wonderful organisation. Our members are mostly between 50 and 80 and it's become an organisation mainly for retired women. When I was young it was perhaps more for young mums. But we welcome people of any age.' This year's president is Christine Clark.
'We're just ordinary people trying to do something to make a difference in our community.' This is how Linda Monk describes Lymm Lions who are part of Lions International which is probably the world's largest and most active service club. 'We've been around for 37 years and the Lymm Lions while not a large group - currently about 14 of us - achieve a tremendous amount. Last year we donated 4,600 to local groups, organisations and individuals.' Linda says they have fun while raising money and 95 per cent of the profit goes back into projects around their area and the other five per cent goes to national and international projects.
'Our biggest fundraiser is a charity golf day and dinner held at Lymm Golf Club in July each year. Last year the event made a profit of 3,000. 'We are always immensely grateful to all the local people and businesses who support and sponsor the event,' she adds.
All the original watercolour paintings featured in this issue are available to buy and Gordon Wilkinson is also available for commissioned work. Call Gordon on 01244 531785, visit his website at www.gordonwilkinson.com or send an e-mail to email@example.com
One of the most popular local beauty spots is Lymm Dam. This was formed in 1824 when a turnpike road between Warrington and Stockport was created. This new dam flooded the marsh near the church to create a natural looking lake. Then along came the first Lord Leverhulme who transformed the dam into a great beauty spot. He built the bridge at the head of the lake and planted many trees. These included the avenues of poplars and he improved the lakeside footpath which is known locally as The Bongs - meaning banks.
The landscape around Lymm has changed considerably over the years. In the 1700s people earned a living from the land but a growing population made people look for other work. Around this time Slitten Gorge came into being - it was a mill where they cut brittle sheets of cast iron into strips for making nails and barrel hoops. It existed for over 100 years and was an important part of Lymm's economy for most of the 18th century. Today it makes a delightful walk.
Lymm has been home to many famous people. They include footballer Bobby Charlton; Ian Brown of the Stone Roses; Matthew Corbett the original owner of the children's favourite puppet Sooty; Chris Bisson of Coronation Street and Shameless; Walter Smith former Everton manager and John Stalker, former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.
In 1086 St Mary the Virgin church was one of only nine churches recorded in Cheshire. The present day church is the fourth known to have been built on the same site and was erected in 1852.
Lymm Lions collect over 1,000 pairs of spectacles every year to send to Third World countries. People can leave them at the two local doctors' surgeries.