History of Grimsditch Mill Pool by Jason Webb

Grimsditch Mill Pool is located a short distance up Grimsditch Lane just off the A49 in the pleasant surroundings of the Cheshire countryside. It is arguably one of Lymm Angling Clubs most picturesque waters, nestled amongst the fields and trees it offers the pleasure angler a great days fishing in stunning surroundings. The pool about 1 acre in size has some great features which include islands, reed lined margins and overhanging trees. The water is predominantly known as a silvers water although many people have been taken by surprise by some of the larger residents that inhabit the pool.

Over the last few seasons with careful fishery management the water has made good progress and now holds a good stamp of fish with regular catches of Roach up to 1lb, Bream and Tench up to 4lb and many lower double figure Carp. In recent years a few Mirrors and Commons to just over 20lb have also been banked. And as a mixed fishery Rudd, Perch and Golden Orfe make regular appearances along with eels, some of which are up to 3lb.

Some of the more elusive residents include Grass Carp, Catfish, and a few Chinese Silver Carp, which are still believed to be present. It was some time in the late 80’s, early 90’s when Grass Carp were first stocked and now some of these are reportedly in excess of 20lb. As for the shy Chinese Silver Carp there was a small stocking of these in the late 1980’s and they have proved virtually impossible to catch as they are filter feeders, their normal diet is made up of plankton, detritus and miniscule particles. One or two
are still believed to be present but have evaded capture.

The UK Catfish association recognises Grimsditch as a Catfish inhabited water and there were a small number originally stocked in the mid 1980’s. These don’t appear to get caught very often; the last one was caught several years back and weighed 15lb but bigger are believed to be in there.The variety of species present along with the quality and condition of the fish being caught in such an idyllic setting puts Grimsditch Mill Pool up there amongst the best mixed fisheries in the North West.

The wildlife is in abundance with Buzzards, Mink and the resident Heron amongst others all putting in an appearance. When we look back in time, this place has taken on a transformation nothing short of staggering.

Around 800 A.D the area now known as Grimsditch was covered in thick forest. The first settlers in the area were the Vikings who cleared an area of forest and called there settlement “Grims”. The name “Grims” when translated from Scandinavian is “Thor” for the Viking god of thunder. It would have made a good area to settle in due to the natural source of fresh water from Norcott brook and Whitley brook. However it wasn’t long before the Saxons arrived on the scene and took over and this is where the word “ditch” appears
to have originated from and means “earthworks” such as a ridge, banking or mound.

Through the 1300’s and 1400’s the population of the area expanded and with this came the need to bring more of the land around Grimsditch Mill Pool under cultivation. As this land began to yield more cereal crops the need for mills increased and it was around this time that Grimsditch Mill and its pool was created. There were a total of 3 mills in the Whitley area and they were built during the Reign of Henry VII which was from 1485 to 1509.

So Grimsditch Mill pool has been around for about 500 years! But nothing like we know it today. It was much smaller back then and the earliest map available that shows it is dated 1847.

The map dated 1847 is supplied by Cheshire Council and shows a much smaller Mill pool at the car park end. The area next to it, which is now the main part of the pool was called “the twiggery” and was used to grow Rye Grass, Potatoes and Osiers. Osiers were a type of Willow tree used in the art of Wickerwork.
The landowner at that time was a George Jones and he had let the land out to Robert Burrows.The surrounding fields were owned by Thomas Grimsditch, M.P and Mayor of Macclesfield. They were called Pool Meadow and Windmill field and were used as pasture land at that time. Incidentally Lewis Carroll the famous children’s writer famous for writing Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the looking glass was born on Morphany lane just past Higher Lane about a mile from the pool and is believed to have visited it as a child sometime around 1840.

The map below shows the outline of the pool as it is today. It gives some concept to the scale of work undertaken to dig out the “twiggery” in order to create the pool as it is now. A small drainage ditch runs down one side of it to help drain off excess water from the adjacent field.

The nearby Grimsditch Hall was built around 1550, sometime after the Mill and a long time after the hamlet of Grimsditch had established itself. The Hall remained in the family of the Grimsditches until 1864 when the trustees of Thomas Grimsditch sold it after his death. Several episodes of Sherlock Holmes were filmed there and I believe they used the pool for a backdrop in one of the episodes!

A map from 1875 shows wood land next to the Mill pool.

By 1910 this wooded area known as the twiggery had started to turn into swamp land as shown below.

In the 1970’s an aerial photograph of Grimsditch Mill Pool was taken and shows overgrown woodland and swamp. The pool at this point is a completely unrecognisable place.

It was in the early 1980’s that the club took control of Grimsditch Mill pool. Taking it over from the Appleton Prison Wardens. It had fallen into a sad sorry state of neglect and it took a massive effort to transform the place into what we see today. Nearly 200 Willow trees were cut down and then followed the hard work of clearing the area before the diggers were brought in. Once dug out a member of the club at that time was a landscape gardener and he kindly landscaped the islands that are there today. The water soon started to blossom and despite a few setbacks over the years with chick weed growth
suffocating the pool along with the fish kill of 2002 and associated de-oxygenation issues of recent years it is without doubt a fantastic little fishery with a lot of history and guarantees an enjoyable days fishing.

Related photography of Grimsditch Mill Pool:

Above: A picture of Grimsditch Mill Pool in the 1980’s and a more recent winter scene below.

Written by Jason Webb (Mancman) on 21/09/2009 with thanks to Cheshire Council. Information researched through various Internet sources, Cheshire Guardian Archives and Lymm AC members.

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