Why locals love living in Lymm

Lymm Heritage Group volunteers by The Cross

Lymm Heritage Group volunteers by The Cross - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

It’s a beautiful location with an intriguing heritage, no wonder visitors flock to this picturesque place

Co-authors of the book 'Pubs and Ale Houses of Lymm', Alan Taylor (photographer) and Alan Williams

Co-authors of the book 'Pubs and Ale Houses of Lymm', Alan Taylor (photographer) and Alan Williams - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

One of the things that makes Lymm such an attractive location is the canal, prettily dotted with colourful boats.

It’s such a pretty location that it’s hard to imagine that the Bridgewater Canal was the first commercial waterway transporting dirty coal from mines to the rest of Britain and spearheading the industrial revolution in the process.

Someone who understands the attractions of Lymm’s waterway is Michelle Gilbody, the first ever female chairman of Lymm Cruising Club, which started life in October 1955 with just 17 ‘interested’ people.

Says Michelle: ‘The inaugural meeting of Lymm Cruising Club was held at the Old Number Three pub. Eric Hurd and Fred Swaithes were the founder members and Fred was elected as the first chairman of the club.

Chloe Killen at her CLK Arts Gallery

Chloe Killen at her CLK Arts Gallery - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

‘Monthly meetings, held ever since, were set for the first Tuesday of the month, and the annual membership subscription was set at one guinea (it’s just a tad more nowadays). There were 26 boats leaving Timperley to Worsley on the first ever opening cruise in 1956.’

Over the years Lymm Cruising Club has established itself in the village and takes part in events such as the May Queen Festival and Dickensian Day, when Santa is seen to arrive at the club on the last of a convoy of illuminated boats.

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The club’s year begins in February which marks the end of Michelle’s three year tenure, during which she admits she’s had to deal with a number of challenges, not least residents’ concerns about noise.

‘Although we were here first , we are all living together here as one so it is a matter of trying to adapt,’ explains Michelle, whose own boat Ted is moored on the Lymm site near the club.

Michelle Gilbody, Chairman of Lymm Cruising Club

Michelle Gilbody, Chairman of Lymm Cruising Club - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

‘We try to get involved, for example Ted brought Father Christmas to the club. Lots of people come from quite far away, some live as far as North Wales but we are part of the Lymm community as well.’

Once people do visit the village they may find themselves becoming fascinated by its history, which stretches back much further back than the Industrial Revolution.

Luckily they can pay a visit to Lymm Heritage Centre, which has just seen its 10,000th visitor pass through the doors since it opened in June 2018 on Legh Street.

‘It’s been a success,’ confirms Alan Williams, chair and trustee, who explains the centre started life not just as a physical building but as an idea.

Lymm centre

Lymm centre - Credit: Pics; John Cocks

‘When you think about the Heritage Museum you think about the building and nothing else but there are also all the activities we do,’ he says.

‘We have an education group, and an archiving group and that manifests itself in different ways.

‘The thing about Lymm is it has an interesting heritage and in comparison to come villages has a very healthy passing trade because of the numbers who come here. Hopefully when they do come now they will come here and find out more about the village.’

One of the highlights planned for 2019 will be an exhibition in January about the dinosaurs whch roamed Cheshire.

Businesses along The Cross

Businesses along The Cross - Credit: Archant

‘If you visit the centre of the village there’s a big block of stone which has the footprint of a dinosaur,’ says Alan.

‘In fact it’s a chirotherium. This was a creature that walked the earth 250m years ago.

‘‘The exhibition will include a full sized model of what the experts thought it would look like, so we are starting right at the beginning of Lymm’s history.

‘To most people Lymm starts with a mention in the Domesday Book and really takes off during the Industrial Revolution with the first industrial canal.’

As well as exhibitions and an online collection, the heritage website includes a fascinating timeline detailing the history of the village and information about local history publications.

‘All over the county, towns and cities are waking up to the fact that their cultural heritage is an important part of their identity, which helps to promote them,’ says Alan.

‘It’s also important in the broader sense of helping to revitalise the village centre.’

Chester-born Chloe Killen is helping to ensure that Lymm high street is thriving as she recently opened her CLK art gallery on Eagle Brow.

Since she launched in June she has held several events in the gallery and happily reports that there’s a thriving arty community in the village.

‘It’s a real creative hub. ‘There are arts groups and lots of painting classes. One of the artists we showed recently, Paul J Bennett, was actually from Lymm Society of Artists, which is nice. He really appreciated the support.’

It isn’t just local people who are enjoying the new gallery as Chloe, who spent five years in London, before returning north explains.

‘Being here in Lymm means that there are a lot of people walking about and with the canal nearby and the boats it is something of a destination for visitors. It’s wonderful here, there’s so much going on. It has a lovely community feel to it.

‘I also think there’s a huge demand here for speciality businesses because I think visitors like to come to Lymm. They like to walk around have a coffee and browse. The location is close to the motorway which is definitely a huge plus for us.’

Chloe has been in the art and interiors business for more than a decade, working at an art publishing house and overseeing a couple of galleries while she was based in London. She also held a few pop up art exhibitions before deciding to open CLK Art.

‘It’s contemporary art as well as affordable art with most pieces being limited editions,’ she explains. ‘I have artists who are based nationally, internationally and regionally, for example the next exhibition here is by Leigh Lambert,a Newcastle-upon-Tyne artist. He has been seen as the modern Lowry because his pieces are quite industrial and all tend to be monochrome, depicting lives gone by. The children and all positive aspects in the pictures are picked out in colour and people say they make them smile. He will be doing an artist appearance and a book signing on Sunday February 10th.