Cheadle and Cheadle Hulme Cheshire's new Super suburbs (with audio)
Patrick O'Neill discovers why Cheadle and Cheadle Hulme are leading the way in 21st century living <br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS
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He couldn’t have been more than three as he toddled from Wendy house to sand pit. ‘Comment ca va’ he said with a nonchalance more common on the Left Bank of the Seine than the north end of Mellor Street. We were chatting in Tiny Toes, the Cheadle Hulme Day Nursery where the children are introduced to French, Italian and lots more, at an age when most children have just worked out how Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall.The children can also learn the piano. There are drama classes, dancing lessons and even a post office for those first attempts at writing a letter. Children from three months to five years are welcome. With a trained professional staff, the name of the game at Tiny Toes is to develop the whole child, educationally and emotionally through the medium of play.Tiny Toes sits on one corner of a triangle which also includes Chads Theatre and the proposed ‘Hesketh Park’ community orchard. Together they perfectly demonstrate why Cheadle and Cheadle Hulme are arguably the nearest we have come to creating 21st century ‘supersuburbs’. Chads (founded 1921) is already famous, standing as it does alongside the Players Dramatic Society at the heart of community life. Chads also boasts a costume service and a youth studio which performed Romeo and Juliet with star-crossed lovers of the right age group (12 to 18).But in an unkempt corner opposite is something that could bear fruit for decades to come. Here the ‘Friends of Hesketh Park’ are to create a community orchard. Says Robert Jewell, chairman of the Friends of Hesketh Park, who lives in nearby Bancroft Avenue: ‘The site can accommodate 60 to 70 fruit trees such as apples, pears, and plums with wildlife-friendly planting along the margins to extend the flowering period and provide food for birds and insects’Here in Cheadle Hulme from the children of Tiny Toes, to the actors at Chads and the orchard volunteers we are seeing the new shoots of a revitalised Cheshire which owes more to the ‘crunch’ of new apples than the ‘ouch’ of the credit squeeze.The rest of the county can learn from the Cheadle/Cheadle Hulme experience where in the shadow of an international airport; half a dozen train stops from Manchester city centre - and a cockstride from the leafy lanes of rural Cheshire, life is sweet. Or as the tots from Tiny Toes might put it, ‘La Vita’ in these parts is definitely ‘Dolce.’Local websites include pubs, parks, churches, sports clubs, restaurants, shops, schools: and that’s just the tip of a super-suburban iceberg for an area that dates back 2,000 years, appears in the Domesday Book as Cedde (clearing in the wood) and includes St Mary’s Church, Cheadle, originally built in the 13th century and rebuilt in 1523 under Henry VIII.We can’t cover all that in one short article so I have chosen just three examples to represent all: Cheadle Bride, The Hesketh - and The Bramhall and Cheadle Hulme flower club who hit the headlines when they appeared on BBC TV after creating a ‘festive’ wreath which they presented to the people of Wootton Bassett, the village that honours the returning heroes of the Afghan War.At the Hesketh, landlord James Almond explains how his hostelry has beaten the trend of pub closures. Good beer, bonny barmaids and an extended restaurant meant that ladies were queuing to lunch at a carvery with five roasts: beef, turkey, pork, ham, minted lamb. And because this is Cheadle Hulme, you can also lunch at the salad bar or try ‘char siu’ which I’m told is Chinese roast pork.Interestingly in this part of the world they still navigate by pubs: The Hesketh, The Church, the Kenilworth, and the White Hart to name a few. Road names are also important: Hill Top, Victoria Avenue, Councillor Lane and Cheadle Road itself for example where we met Jan Grimsley of Cheadle Bride, something of an expert in the changing trends of modern weddings. Twenty years ago 95pc of brides wore white. Today the favourite colour is ivory. Then most dresses were made in England, now many are made in China. Then young brides might follow their mother's tastes: now they are more interested in what Halle Berry might be wearing at the Oscars. So from tiny toes to blushing brides, from community orchards to flourishing theatres, hot shops to cool schools, Cheadle and Cheadle Hulme are at the cutting edge of super-suburban life in modern Cheshire. Life in Cheshire changes, but there is still one corner of the 21st century world that is for ever Cheadle.