Our recent LDTA Networking Meeting was held on Monday 2nd March, at Chasewater Country Park. Jane Lees, Chasewater Development Officer welcomed members to the meeting and immediately made everyone extremely envious, when we saw the wonderful view Jane sees every day from her office. After enjoying a selection of delicious cakes and a cup of tea or coffee we settled down to hear about the reservoir and park.
The reservoir at Chasewater was created in the eighteenth century as a canal feeder, to regulate water in the Midlands canal network. The 200-year-old dam was drained of water in 2010, for repair and safety improvements, this work was completed in 2012. There was great excitement from local people, as to what would be found once the water had been removed. Excitement soon turned to disappointment when a trumpet and a WWII bomb were discovered but no sunken treasure! In May 2011, Chasewater Country Park and reservoir were transferred from Lichfield District Council to Staffordshire County Council to secure and strengthen the future of this lovely site.
Thrill seekers can enjoy a wide range of water sports including water skiing, paddle boarding, sailing and water zorbing. For visitors who prefer to stay dry, pathways around the reservoir are perfect for a 3 mile bike ride. A brisk walk, crazy golf, bird watching or a leisurely picnic are other activities to be taken advantage of, whatever the season there is something to suit everyone.
The environmentally friendly Innovation centre boasts three excellent conference rooms and due to the beautiful surroundings are exceptionally busy. LDTA members were certainly made to feel comfortable in the meeting room allocated for our visit. Artists display their exhibitions and a local school holds their Christmas carol concert in the building. A café and a gift shop can also be found within the visitor centre, so all in all this is a multi- functional facility.
Numerous events are held throughout the year and the team at Chasewater is delighted to host a section of the Ironman triathlon in 2015, consisting of a 1.2 mile swim across the reservoir, beginning at 5am. Gordon Ramsey and Jonathan Ross are two of the more famous participants taking part and with thousands of amateur athletes also joining them; this event will certainly put Chasewater firmly on the map.
Rob Davies, a ranger at the park gave us a brief insight into his varied role and the importance of looking after a site of special scientific interest. The country park provides a home for an abundance of birds and wildlife which require looking after. Rare pond weed, heathland and the lake also need to be maintained. Apart from a trusty band of volunteers, help is obtained from a small herd of cows, who keep the heathland manageable. On quieter days, curious wild deer may wander up to the Innovation Centre and if startled retreat into the water, which is an unusual sight to see.
Chasewater offers a comprehensive programme of countryside events and guided walks and the Easter Wildlife trail on Monday 6th April sounds the perfect opportunity to burn off some calories after eating too many chocolate eggs! While listening to Rob’s talk we were lucky enough to see a selection of photographs taken of the park, which were truly beautiful.
Before LDTA partners took the short walk to the railway, Amanda Bourne spoke about ConnecTing You FindaBiz, the Midlands Premier Business networking organisation. This business community helps businesses reach their full potential to connect, sell and save. Amanda highlighted some of the many benefits of becoming a member which include advice on business law, a loyalty card, countless deals, offers and discounts, promoting your business, networking and a regular newsletter.
If you would like more information about the many advantages of ConnecTing You FindaBiz, please contact Amanda Bourne via email email@example.com
Despite the morning being very windy and cold we eagerly made our way to the railway station, to board our vintage train. As partners waited in the ticket office it was like stepping back in time as all the fixtures and fittings were so authentic. Chasewater Railway is a volunteer run charity; Mark Sealey kindly met our group and acted as our conductor. Mark explained that the winter gala had taken place the previous weekend and over 200 visitors had come along to the railway, breaking all previous gate records.
Our journey took us over the last remaining sections of the historic Cannock Chase Colliery lines and throughout last year there were over 65,000 passengers who travelled on the 2 mile line, it was lovely for us to see the park from a different perspective. The railway is home to a collection of steam and diesel locomotives plus vintage carriages. A museum, shops and a model railway all add to the Chasewater Railway experience.
After leaving the train we were fortunate to view the Tea Room at Brownhills West Station which has received a vintage themed refurbishment with a real coal fire to keep visitors cosy on a cold day. Another café is located at Chasewater Heaths station.
If you would like further information about Chasewater or the Railway, call into Lichfield Tourist Information Centre for a leaflet or visit www.enjoychasewater.co.uk for the park and www.ChasewaterRailway.org for the railway.
Thank you once again to F M & J Wait for providing transport for members to travel to the venue and to Angela and Paul for organising the car and driving us safely.
This was the first networking meeting for two LDTA members, Scott Hollingsworth representing Lichfield Arts and Kim Wilkins from Cruck House; we hope Scott and Kim will be able to join us at our next event.
Our next LDTA meeting will be at:
Arthur Price Factory Shop, Britannia Way, Lichfield WS14 9UY
Wednesday 13th May 2015 at 2pm.