Reflecting the significance of rivers to communities “River Weaver – a meander through time” is an exhibition which charts the story of how the river has shaped local history. It opens in the Millennium Gallery at Nantwich Museum on Wednesday 12 July and runs until Saturday 9 September.
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. Animal hides were processed by a tanning industry employing water from the river.
An efficient infrastructure, the Weaver Navigation, once described as: “the most perfect artificial cut navigation”, was essential to the success of the salt industry and spawned a boat building industry whose products were distributed worldwide.
Inevitably, man’s activities have impacted 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.
There is art too. An audio-visual programme prepared by members of Nantwich Camera Club charts the course of the river and its moods. A copy of a sketch from J M W Turner’s “Chester Sketchbook” is displayed depicting the artist’s view of Nantwich 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. Paintings by residents of Richmond Village are also displayed.
Exhibition events include a Family Fun Day for hands-on practical science, riverside walks, talks and children’s workshops themed on the river.
Research booklets published in support of museum funds document the results of water quality tests conducted by local schools and the multitude of mills which operated at one time on the local river system. They are available from the museum shop price £2.95.