Paddington Meadows is an area of open farmland enclosed on three sides by a loop of the River Mersey and along the northern boundary by the disused New Cut Canal.
Information provided by Warrington Borough Council
Additional information, photos and captions Copyright © Gordon I Gandy
The fields were gifted to the Council in 1995 on the condition that they would be managed as a nature reserve. This special site is an important part of Warrington’s heritage and is the last remaining waterside grassland in the town once typical of the whole river valley.
Hawthorn hedges, which are some of the oldest in Cheshire, mark the boundary. They are in full bloom in April and May and attract large numbers of berry-eating fieldfares and redwings in the winter months.
The Meadows have been farmed in the current field pattern for at least 200 years. The River Mersey used to flood the area until the weirs at Howley and Woolston tamed it.
The land has been farmed by several generations of the Bennett family. The fields were regularly used to fatten up beef cattle and in recent years artificial fertiliser was applied to encourage grass growth. To allow wildflowers to grow, fertilisers are no longer used.
The Meadows are isolated to a degree by the now disused New Cut Canal. This canal, built in 1821, was used as a short cut for boat traffic avoiding the severe bends of the river.
The canal was abandoned in the 1950s but continued to supply water to the Black Bear Canal downstream, via an aqueduct over the river.
Salmon used to be netted in great numbers at this part of the River Mersey until the early 20th century when pollution from the Industrial Revolution brought that to an end. However, The twenty-five-year Mersey Basin Campaign, launched in 1986 to clean up the river, has greatly improved the water quality and certain species of fish are returning.
The site is a wonderful place to see nature at its best. On the day I visited, a fire had been started by vandals and in the height of summer this is highly dangerous and so I called the fire brigade. They put the fire out and, of course, it attracted a group of small children. When one of the girls saw the remains of the fire she said: “You’ve called the fire brigade out for THAT?” But of course , big or small, fires are dangerous.
Improvements have been made in recent years by volunteers from Pingot Conservation Group, British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and Groundwork Mersey Valley.
The Mersey Way New Cut Canal path from Kingsway to New Cut Lane is a public footpath. This path is level and well surfaced.
My favourite shot from my Reflections series. It shows the River Mersey between Paddington Meadows and Latchford
So let’s have a look round Paddington Meadows from the designated paths.
Paddington Meadows is close to Kingsway (A50) and Manchester Road (A57). There is no designated car park. Direct access to the riverside path is available from Paddington Bank, Kingsway North. Turn right off the main surfaced path and go through the gate. The riverside path and the New Cut Canal path meet to the right hand side of the Household Waste site at the end of New Cut Lane, Woolston. Alternatively there is access at the end of Larkfield Avenue, approx. 200 metres from Manchester Road.
Alongside is the New Cut Heritage and Ecology Trail. See their website for even more history of the area, including the story of Old Billy, the oldest horse in the world, the gunpowder mill from 1755 and the seal of Paddington Lock.
See Warrington Borough Council’s website for latest information on the green spaces around the town.
Check with Warrington’s Own Buses for up-to-date information on bus timetables.