River Weaver – a Meander Through Time

Welsh Row Bridge Photo by Paul Topham

Our summer exhibition “River Weaver – A Meander Through Time” runs from Wednesday 12th July 2017 to Saturday 9th September 2017 in the Millennium Gallery.  It reflects the significance of rivers to local communities, and charts the story of how the river has shaped our history.

Historically, the River Weaver and its tributaries not only provided a water source and drainage, but also powered many mills. Brine springs associated with the river system were exploited, which ultimately led to a chemical industry of international significance.

An efficient infrastructure, the Weaver Navigation, was essential to the success of the salt industry. It was once described as: “the most perfect artificial cut navigation” and spawned a boat building industry whose products were distributed worldwide.

The famous Cheshire dairy industry benefited from the supply of salt whilst animal hides were processed by a tanning industry employing water from the river.

Inevitably, man’s activities have had an impact on water quality and wildlife, both of which are explored in detail. Historical and contemporary information is presented, showing how the environment has evolved over time.

Information is included about local projects underway to improve the situation in the Nantwich area.

There is art too. An audio-visual programme charts the course of the river and its moods. A copy of a sketch from J M W Turner’s “Chester Sketchbook” displayed depicting the artists view of the town in 1801. It has been licensed from Tate Britain thanks to generous donations from museum volunteers. The sketch is in the “Picturesque” style which grew in popularity through the eighteenth century.

Exhibition events include a Family Fun Day, Walks and Talks.

Research booklets published in support of museum funds document the results of tests of water quality conducted by local schools and the multitude of mills which operated on the river system at one time.

Admission to the museum and exhibition is free.

For further information contact us on enquiries@nantwichmuseum.org.uk or telephone 01270 627104.

“Drawn from the Weaver” exhibition opens at Nantwich Museum

Weir Nantwich by Pauline Leaver
Weir Nantwich by Pauline Leaver

Drawn from the Weaver – an exhibition by local artists Pamela Field, Pauline Leaver and Celia Rowlands is part of a visual exploration of the River Weaver from its source to entry into the Manchester Ship Canal running in the Your Space Gallery at Nantwich Museum from Wednesday 12 July to Saturday 9 September.

The main interest of Pamela Field is mutability, especially the erosion of seemingly solid or permanent features – the way rivers move earth which was once stone or trees to create fresh landscapes and opportunities for growth. It is the exposed tree roots along the Weaver’s banks which became the main focus for her work in the exhibition.

Roots 1 by Pamela Field
Roots 1 by Pamela Field

Pauline Leaver comments “on our visits to the Weaver I became interested in patterns made by the flow of water, and the effects of human intervention such as locks, weirs, sluices and bridges. In some of the pictures, I have been unable to resist the temptation of digital intervention. In others, I accepted that nature knows best and have displayed the original photograph.

Celia Rowlands work was inspired by the reflection in the water which she sought to reproduce in her oil paintings. Her smaller water colours and prints were inspired by looking at Google maps of the river winding through the countryside.

Pamela Field has worked as a designer/artist since leaving Hornsey College of Art [now Middlesex University] in 1971. Pauline Leaver and Celia Rowlands did Foundation courses at Northwich before gaining degrees at Camberwell in 1993, and Manchester in 1995, respectively. Since then the friends have taken time from their individual artistic pursuits to work together.

Drawn from the Weaver

Entry to the museum and exhibition is free and many of the paintings are available for sale.

For further information contact the Museum on enquiries@nantwichmuseum.org.uk or telephone 01270 627104

Bright Warm Welcome at Nantwich Museum

The newly lit shop display at Nantwich Museum
The newly lit shop display at Nantwich Museum

Regular visitors to Nantwich Museum will have been immediately impressed by the new enhanced lighting in the foyer. LED lights have now been installed throughout the museum greatly enhancing the display of artefacts and exhibitions so improving the visitor experience.

The project, which included upgrading the shop display lighting and heating system, also aimed to reduce energy use making for all important reductions in museum running costs. It was just one part of the museum’s ongoing efforts to achieve a greener museum with all the savings that entails.

Museum Manager, Denise Courcoux, who oversaw the installation observed that: “Such is the success of the project that we now have better lighting which is more economical to run and, most importantly, achieves a significant reduction in ultra violet light compared with the old halogen lighting which helps to preserve our valuable artefacts.” She welcomed the improved visitor experience afforded by the upgrades and especially the prospect of economies offered by the more efficient technology.

The project was made possible through generous grants from Nantwich Town Council, Cheshire East Council and WREN’s FCC Community Action Fund.

Richard Smith, WREN’s grant manager for Cheshire, says: “It’s wonderful to see something we have funded finally open and ready to make such a difference to all visitors to the museum. WREN is always happy to consider grant applications for projects that benefit local communities and this is a great example of what can be achieved.”

Afternoon Tea in the Garden

Afternoon Tea in the Garden

The onset of steady rain could do nothing to dampen the success of the recent “Afternoon Tea in the Garden” event generously hosted by Deana and Gerald Emerton at Glebe House in Acton.

The true British spirit prevailed and remained undaunted in the face of the June weather as visitors enjoyed walks in the splendid and most beautiful garden and grounds, a raffle, plant and ‘bring and buy’ stalls as well as the opportunity to view part of the acclaimed collection of coaches which would have brought back memories for many of us. The tea, which had to be taken indoors, involved an amazing spread of home cooked food a great credit to all who contributed.

Our thanks are due to Deana and Gerald, members of the Inner Wheel, and all the museum volunteers who helped to make the event such a success. In all a massive £1215.00 was raised for museum funds.

Saying Good-Bye to Denise

Saying goodbye to Denise Courcoux

In June we were all sorry to say goodbye to Denise Courcoux our Museum Manager (Maternity Cover) during the last year. She made a major contribution to the museum during that time but we were pleased that she secured a post in Liverpool helping with the administration of ‘The Jam’ exhibition  running in the Cunard Building until 25 September.

At the recent Annual General Meeting of the museum Trust Denise was presented with a copy of ‘Nantwich – I Flew the Nest ‘ the artwork recently donated to the museum by the artist Jon Measures. A full size alupanel print of the artwork followed.

Museum Recalls Battle

Over 600 people visited Nantwich Museum on Saturday 23 January during the recent Holly Holy Day commemoration of the seventeenth century Battle of Nantwich. As well as having the opportunity to view the permanent exhibitions they were able to enjoy town tours, a musketry demonstration by members of the Sealed Knot, a concert with dancing by period music group Forlorne Hope and various activities for children.

Forlorne Hope musicians. Photograph by Paul Topham.
Forlorne Hope musicians. Photograph by Paul Topham.

“A View to a Battle”, the latest exhibition in the Your Space Gallery, was also open and is now entering its final week closing on Saturday 6 February. It recalls the time of the Battle of Nantwich outlining what life in the town was like in the seventeenth century and through art with particular attention to various stained glass windows especially those from this locality. Visitors to the exhibition still have the opportunity to elect to be a Royalist or Parliamentarian.

Interest in the English Civil War does not end here and the museum’s Research Group is busy preparing for “Nantwich Besieged 1642-1646”, a major summer exhibition concerned with the local events of the Civil War and exploring further what life was like within the garrisoned town. The siege was ultimately lifted by the Battle of Nantwich. As usual the exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events beginning on Friday 29 July with a Talk & Walk centred on the site of the battle led by Julian Humphrys of the Battlefields Trust – booking details will be published on the website nearer the time.

Local History Book Launched at Nantwich Museum

A new local history book has been launched at Nantwich Museum. In 1883 the historian James Hall referred to the cholera outbreak in Nantwich: ” – – as the greatest crisis in the history of the town in modern times; for since the cholera visitation a spirit of improvement and progress have been infused into the inhabitants which cannot be traced in times prior to that event.” This was the premise for a new book “Cholera in Nineteenth Century Nantwich” by Keith Lawrence and Graham Dodd. The authors, who have donated the first print of the book to the museum, would like to see it as a memorial to that major event.

Left to right: Museum Chairman Nick Dyer, author Graham Dodd, Museum Manager Denise Courcoux and author Keith Lawrence. Photograph by Paul Topham.
Left to right: Museum Chairman Nick Dyer, author Graham Dodd, Museum Manager Denise Courcoux and author Keith Lawrence.
Photograph by Paul Topham.

The 118 page book details how the disease was understood at the time of the outbreak in 1849 and describes life in the town in the early nineteenth century. The epidemic came at a time of increasing concern for public hygiene in towns and increasing scepticism of the existing theories of disease. In Nantwich Rector Andrew Fuller Chater took the lead in dealing with the epidemic. In particular he petitioned for the establishment of a local Board of Health thus establishing the first representative local government in the town.

The book is on sale in the museum shop price £9.99 and is essential reading for those interested in nineteenth century history relating to the locality, the epidemiology of disease and Andrew Fuller Chater’s story.