Two men sign paperwork whilst smiling at the camera and sat at a table.

Council takes ownership of its offices

Knutsford Town Council has taken ownership of its Toft Road offices and the surrounding grounds.

The freehold of the Council Offices, along with its grounds and the library garden, have been gifted to Knutsford Town Council by Cheshire East Council as a community asset transfer. Negotiation between the councils has been ongoing for several years since Cheshire East Council formally approved the transfer in 2018. This is the fourth transfer from the borough council through its community asset transfer programme following public toilets (2013), the Market Hall (2014) and allotments (2015). The Tabley Hill chapel and cemetery and were also taken back under local management in 2016 and 2020 respectively although these had always been owned by the town council. 

The Grade II listed Council Offices was built in 1844 as the Prison Governor’s House and was acquired by the Knutsford Urban District Council for £1,000 in 1930 after the prison closed. Following local government reorganisation in 1974 the offices were transferred to Macclesfield Borough Council although the Town Council retained an office and use of the chamber. Since the 1970s the building has also housed a tourist information centre, the offices of the Knutsford Guardian and private businesses.

The Town Council sought the transfer to ensure it retained a long-term low-cost office within the centre of Knutsford. The transfer was subject to a covenant that the building forever be used for the benefit of the local community. Cheshire East Council required the town council to take ownership of the Library Gardens as part of the transfer for the whole site to be managed as one space.

The council’s intention is to undertake a renovation and modernisation of the building to provide improved office and community use accommodation. The council aims to install a lift to make the historic council chamber accessible for council meetings and to subsidise the building through letting office space to tenants. The improvements would expand the number of community organisations and public services which can use the building. A sub-committee of councillors will be exploring options and developing proposals for the council.

Cllr Peter Coan, Chairman of the council’s Assets and Operations Committee said “I am thrilled to see the Council Offices return to local ownership and look forward to developing an improvement scheme for both the grounds and building so they better serve the needs of our community” 

Pictured: Cllr Peter Coan and Cllr Stewart Gardiner sign the transfer documents.

Picture of the Mayor's Caberet

Mayor’s Cabaret Raises £2k for Local Charities

On Saturday 2nd April, The Mayor of Knutsford welcomed over 50 guests to his Spring Cabaret at The Courthouse. Knutsford. Mayors from across the North West attended to support the Mayor of Knutsford with the penultimate fundraising activity for his chosen charities.

Guests were welcomed with a red carpet entrance where they were greeted by The Mayor and his consort, Mr Simon Hutchence before taking seats in front of the Courthouse’s grand stage from which they were dazzled with performances starting with the incredibly talented students of Fuchsia School of Dance following by a medley popular songs from Knutsford Beats. International Comedian Sully O’Sullivan served as Master of Ceremonies whilst singing duo Igloo Hearts and the acrobatic delights of the show-stopping Circus House completed the bill of entertainment.

The evening was a fantastic success and a combination of sponsorship, ticket sales, prize balloons, an auction, and raffle ticket sales has raised over £2,000 for the Knutsford and District Branch of the Royal British Legion and the Knutsford Branch of The St Vincent De Paul Society; the two charities which have been the focus of Cllr Gardiner’s fundraising efforts.

Prize were found hidden in balloons, each one containing a voucher for a fabulous prize donated by local businesses including gifts from The Botanist, Real Fruit Creamery, Rose and Crown, Shamoli, Pastiche, Eastern Revive, Pizza Express, Crewe Hall, The Lambing Shed and The Courthouse. The sound of balloons popping filled the reception space and started the party atmosphere.

The Raffle proved popular and prizes included donations from Elite Health, Pete The Pilot, Knutsford Directory, Knutsford Music Festival, White Orchid, Cheshire Quality, Rohan, Midas, Roberta Beauty, Sarah Jane King Photography, Tree Tops Holistics and Beauty and the Town Mayor too.

The Live Auction raised over £500 with bidding war between guests to win beautiful prizes donated by Pulse of Perfumery and Andrew Collier Photography.

Tables were decorated with decadent candelabras and were sponsored by Packaging Automation Ltd, Golden Stitches and Elite Health. All are local Knutsford businesses and who each gave incredible support to ensure The Mayor’s Charities have the funds they need in order to support local people.

Cllr Stewart Gardiner said: “What began as inspired thought, after some very hard work became an incredibly enjoyable event with some very impressive performances and delicious food. Everyone who attended told me how much they had enjoyed the evening. I would like to thank everyone who attended or supported me in some way to make the inaugural Cabaret event such a success. “

Cllr Gardiner’s final fundraising event will be a sponsored danceathon taking place in early May.

‘Where Next’ for 60 King Street?

‘Where Next’ for 60 King Street is the question Knutsford Town Council is asking the local community as part of a consultation to inform how the iconic Grade II* listed building will be used in the future.

The building, also known as Kings Coffee House, was home to the Belle Epoque until 2019 and previous attempts to find a new tenant were unsuccessful. In 2021 the council changed approach and appointed heritage consultants to lead a major grant bid to secure funds to regenerate and reimagine the building.

Speaking in a video released to promote the consultation, Town Mayor Cllr Stewart Gardiner said “Our vision is for a hybrid community and commercial space that will serve the whole of Knutsford but ensure the building remains financially viable”

The council has developed a range of ideas as to how the building could be used in the future to both generate income to offset maintenance costs and deliver a direct community benefit as had originally been intended when the Kings Coffee House was opened by its creator Richard Harding Watt.

“To help us shape our plans we are holding an open consultation, because we want to know your views on how this space should be used in the future” Cllr Gardiner added.

The survey aims to ensure that the building responds to the needs of the Knutsford community by helping identify gaps in service and space provision within the town.

Aware that many residents will not be aware of the extent of the property, the council is opening the doors of the building and offering a series of guided tours on Saturday 23rd April to enable the community to see the whole building and grounds. Numbers on the tours are limited and pre-booking is required. Each tour will end with a group discussion on what they have seen and their initial thoughts on how the building could be best used.

The survey and booking form for the guided tours can be found at: www.knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk/60KS. Paper versions of the survey can be collected from Knutsford Library, Knutsford Market Hall and the Council Offices. Residents not on the internet can book a space on a tour by calling 01565 653 929.

To support the consultation, and for those unable to attend a tour, the council has released a short promotional video which features interior and exterior views of the building; the video can be viewed on the council website.

Paul Buttrick and the Town Mayor sit on a bench with a plaque

Town dedicates ‘Happy to Chat’ benches

A small scheme to help tackle loneliness has been introduced on benches across the town centre thanks to Knutsford Town Council and the Knutsford Lions.

A number of benches have been designated as ‘Happy to Chat’ benches where the presumption is that if someone is sat there, they would welcome strangers stopping by to say hello and engage in conversation.

Loneliness is one of the most significant health concerns facing the population and has been demonstrated to be as detrimental to health as smoking and worse than obesity. Loneliness is becoming an increasing problem for older people in particular with over half a million older people across the country going over five days without seeing or speaking to anyone and 40% of older people saying the television is their main company.

The benches provide an avenue for those would value additional social contact to subtly ask for help.

The idea for the scheme had been raised with the Town Council by a number of community groups and residents and was delivered in partnership with Knutsford Lions.  

Paul Buttrick, President of Knutsford Lions said “The chatty bench project was set by Mike Goldman of the Lions with Knutsford Town Council before COVID-19 struck. It is lovely for people to be able to sit in the sunshine and chat freely again after almost two years of the isolation”

Happy to Chat benches have been designated at the following locations:

  • Outside Ash Court, King Edward Road
  • Wallwood
  • Paradise Green, Bexton Road
  • St John’s Church Grounds
  • Toft Road outside St John’s Church
  • Courthouse Garden
  • Library Garden 
  • The Heath

Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green said “If you spot someone sat on our of the town’s new Happy to Chat benches, consider stopping a while to say hello – you don’t know the difference it may make to their day and their health”

Benches have been selected for the scheme where there is an alternative bench nearby for those who

prefer quiet bench reflection.

Picture of Enid Leigh

Three Residents Share their Memories of World War II

Three Knutsford residents have shared their memories of Knutsford during the Second World War as part of the Town Council’s lottery oral history project and the council is seeking further people to come forward and share their memories as part of the project.

Tony Leadbeater, Enid Leigh and William Cowburn shared their memories on camera for the project which aims to create a documentary film detailing the history of Knutsford during the war. Each was interviewed by a volunteer from the community who has undertaken oral history training.

The need to take the battery for the wireless to be charged at a garage near the Conservative Club to enable the family to listen to the news was just one of the many recollections shared with the project as well as the sight of Lancaster bombers taking off and seeing paratroopers practising over Tatton Park.

“Watching the recordings and hearing the first hand memories of residents from this time is amazing” said Town Clerk, Adam Keppel-Green. “We are really keen to reach more of our residents who have memories of Knutsford during this period – if that’s you please do get in touch and if you know anyone around the age of 85+ please share this with them or let us know their details.”

The interviews are being filmed to create an engaging video to reach all generations and share the story of the town during the war with the final video set to include archive footage and photographs from the era.

If you or someone you know could be part of the project please contact Tor Rogers on 01565 653 929 or tor.rogers@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk.

Knutsford Town Council Logo

Abigail Chetham awarded 2022 Millennium Bursary

Knutsford Town Council has awarded its 2022 Millennium Bursary to Liberal Arts student Abigail Chetham, who is studying at Durham University.

Abigail, who attended Knutsford Academy, is in her second year of the programme and is passionate about ancient near-eastern civilisations and religions; with plans to complete an excavation in Egypt over the summer. As well as excelling in her academic studies, Abigail has an array of different talents and interests, including Performing Arts, Dance, Music and Aerial Arts. Abigail is also an active member of her local Methodist Church and has a passion for volunteer work. Pre-covid, she took a volunteering trip to Kenya where she supported local communities in housing, education, and environmental projects.

Abigail intends to use the £565 bursary to support her travels to various museums and exhibits, to expand her research through purchasing a range of new literature, and to support her trip to Egypt this summer.

Abigail said, “I’m really excited to be able to take part in this excavation, which without the bursary would have certainly been less financially viable. The trip will not only help me for my dissertation and studies in general but will also provide me with real-world skills which will help me when it comes to trying to get a job later in life. The excavation is taking place at the ancient city of Sais, modern Sa el-Hagar, which was the capital of 26th Dynasty Egypt and is around halfway between modern Cairo and Alexandria, in the Nile Delta. The excavation is organised by the Egypt Exploration Society as well as Durham University, and I was chosen to take part by one of my professors. The bursary will be funding my travel expenses, as well as accommodation and sustenance for while I’m out there, for which I’m so grateful.”

Picture of Abigail Chetham
Abigail Chetham

The annual Millennium Bursary is awarded in partnership with the Knutsford Lions and supports a Knutsford student in their second year of University with the aim of supporting their final year project/dissertation.

The Knutsford Lions also gave a runner-up prize of £200 to Hope Philpott, who is studying History at the University of Oxford. Hope is an aspiring journalist and has written extensively for the Oxford student newspaper ‘Cherwell’, as well as being a Pembroke College Oxford Access Ambassador; where she helps young people from underrepresented backgrounds apply to Oxford.

Hope is planning on staying in Oxford over the summer to utilise the Bodleian and Weston library archives to aid her study.

Hope said, “I will absolutely use the money wisely and I’m greatly looking forward to staying in Oxford over the summer. I will continue to be an ambassador for diverse applications to Oxford and I’m still hoping to go into journalism!”

Students currently in their first year of university should look out for the 2023 Millennium Bursary opening for applications in the Autumn.

The bursary was awarded following an interview with the Town Mayor Cllr Stewart Gardiner and Knutsford Lions’ Lydia Kennedy.

Speaking of the award Lydia said “It was wonderful to speak with all the applicants this year, each of them bringing their own talents and plans for the future to the discussions. They would all have made great winners. We know that Abigail will bring her fantastic outlook with her for her planned excavation internship as well as in all her future studies as this year’s bursary student. The Lions were also delighted to be able to award a runners up prize to Hope to use for her ongoing research at Oxford. We wish them all the best of luck for their next year at university.”

Cllr Stewart Gardiner sat at a table in the Courthouse Hotel

Town Mayor to host a cabaret evening

Knutsford Town Mayor, Cllr Stewart Gardiner is looking forward to his Spring Charity Cabaret which takes place on Saturday 2nd April at The Courthouse, Knutsford. The Mayor hopes that the Cabaret will be the biggest fundraising event of his mayoral year and promises to be a fun filled evening with performances from a variety of local and national entertainers.

The Spring Cabaret will raise funds to support the Mayor’s chosen charities – the Knutsford Royal British Legion and the Knutsford St Vincent De Paul Society.

Cllr Stewart Gardiner said: “Following the success of my autumn ball, I’m hoping to increase the funds that I will be able to share between my chosen charities. The Cabaret will be an opportunity for everyone to experience a variety of entertainment whilst enjoying dinner in the historic courthouse.  Please accept this as my invitation to each you all to come along and join what will hopefully be a highlight of this year’s social calendar.

Tickets are available for the night at £50 per person for a delicious 2-course meal, and all the evening’s entertainment.  To book your place you can contact the Civic Events Officer Michelle Bate as soon as possible before 7th March on 01565 653929 or email michelle.bate@knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk.

Raffle tickets are also now on sale for the Mayor’s Prize Draw at £2 each with a range of great prizes up for grabs. The raffle will be drawn at the Ball but anyone can purchase tickets by contacting Michelle or visiting the Council Offices.

Any businesses wishing to make a prize donation for the raffle can contact Michelle at the details above.

Knutsford Music Festival 2022 Artists Announced

Knutsford Music Festival returns with a bang this year with an exciting line up set to take stage across a weekend of musical entertainment.

The three-day festival will take place from 10th to 12th June, with a variety of events across the weekend coordinated by Knutsford Town Council.

Festival organisers at the Town Council have teamed up with BBC Radio’s Mark Radcliffe to once again bring a line-up of incredible folk music to the festival, with events split this year across Knutsford Little Theatre and St John’s Church.

Folk sensation Kate Rusby will headline the Saturday night folk event at St John’s Church with support from Catherine and Ciara McGoldrick.

Friday night will see critically acclaimed duo Zervas and Pepper will headline at the Little Theatre joined by local favourites Fine Lines who will support alongside singer-songwriter and producer Tim Prottey-Jones.

Sunday’s line-up promises just as much with a headline performance from the lively eight-piece Hope & Social who will be joined for support by local singer-songwriter Chris Tavener, who combines jangly-guitar rock and a biting sense of humour.

Also returning in 2022 is Friday Night Blues, taking place in the beautiful Brook Street Chapel Hall on Friday 10th June and headlined this by Mat Walklate who returns followinga  sell out performance in 2018; this year he is joined by duo partner Alex Haynes, with support from local folk stomping duo Two Hats Blues Band.

All ages can enjoy outdoor fun on Saturday 11th June, as the festival brings music back to the Moor. The free event, which runs from 12-4pm, features live acoustic music from incredible local talent, as well as activities for all ages including a children’s music themed craft workshop, African drumming for all ages and more activities and refreshments provided by local vendors.

Taking place on the Sunday at a venue to be confirmed is A Brief History of Music, a fun 90-minute tour of western musical history starting in the middle ages which combines the vigour of the medieval period, the musical intricacy of the Renaissance, the grandeur of the Baroque and the pomp and bombast of Victoriana!

Tickets for all headline events will go on sale on 1st March at 12.00pm via www.knutsfordmusicfestival.com – tickets are limited so don’t miss out.

Join the festival’s mailing list via website to receive up to date news and announcements including notification of ticket sales opening. For any info relating to the festival please email info@knutsfordmusicfestival.com or call 01565 653 929.

Businesses in Knutsford Nominated as Most Loved

Local businesses from across Knutsford have been nominated as most loved as part of national ‘Love Local Day’. The annual event which began in 2019, takes place on February 14th and recognises the UK’s most loved local businesses. 

Businesses from Knutsford which were nominated include Blossom Boutique, Dexter and Jones, Hal Whittaker Toy Shop, Kanoa Living, Neki Café, Real Fruit Creamery, Tatton Perk, Woods Butchers and Morgan Edwards.

Adam Keppel-Green, Town Clerk at Knutsford Town Council, said “Our local businesses all add so much to the town, so it is great to see people have taken the time to nominate them as part of this national campaign.“

Thousands of nominations have poured in from across the UK over the last few weeks from over 200 towns and cities. Nominations for Love Local Day have highlighted the friendliness, helpfulness and exceptional service that local businesses have provided during the most challenging times for local communities, high streets, markets, towns and city centres.

Princess Street’s Kanoa Living was recognised as one of the top 20 most loved businesses across the UK.

Dr Jackie Mulligan, Founder of ShopAppy – the organisation behind the UKs Love Local Day campaign explains “Love Local Day has provided a great outpouring of love for these Great British businesses at a time when it is good to give them a boost of morale and spend. The last months have provided a perfect storm for our high streets, but we know there is tremendous love for local businesses in our communities. Many of these businesses provide conversation, a safe space, expertise and great products and services on our doorstep and have adapted so much to keep us safe over the last two tumultuous years. The day celebrates all that these businesses do for our communities”

A group of people including the mayor gather around a tree that is being planted

Mayor plants tree for Platinum Jubilee

The 70th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was marked in Knutsford on Sunday 5th February with the Town Mayor and councillors planting a commemorative tree at the Council Offices.

Town Mayor Cllr Stewart Gardiner was joined by councillors and residents at a small ceremony on the day marking 70 years since HM The Queen took the throne. This marked the first act ahead of the official celebrations in June.

The council chose a Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ tree to celebrate the occasion. The tree will blossom with clear pale primrose yellow, fragrant cup-shaped flowers between April and May each year – covering the period of HM The Queen’s birthday.

The national celebrations of the jubilee take place over a four-day bank holiday weekend from 2nd to 5th June. The Town Council is organising a beacon lighting as part of beacon lighting across the nation on Thursday 2nd June whilst Knutsford Lions will be hosting a Jubilee Fair on the Heath on Friday 3rd June.

The 2012 Diamond Jubilee saw a specially commissioned arch installed at the Library Gardens and for the Platinum Jubilee the council is discussing holding a competition for children to design a new piece of public art. The Town Mayor will also be offering to plant a jubilee tree at each school in Knutsford ahead of the half term break.

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