Chapelfield Local Nature Reserve
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are areas of green space, close to local communities that are important for the wildlife found in them and for recreational use by local people.
An LNR is a nationally recognised designation which places a value on these sites for nature, amenity, recreation and wellbeing.
Chapelfield is such a site and is one of six LNRs to be found in Bury. The other nature reserves are Philips Park, Chesham, Hollins Vale, Redisher Wood and Kirklees Valley.
All have community groups that are actively involved in the management of each site and are well used by schools and other local groups.
Many of the LNRs in Bury have strong links to local history and industry and often they were formerly occupied by Mills and associated features as in the site at Chapelfield.
What are the benefits of LNR designation? Grant funding opportunities, some legal protection from negative impacts and future developments, increased publicity and a raised profile, improvement to the appearance of the site and improved facilities.
Since the completion of the Woodland Chase housing development, there are very few features that point to the industrial past and that of the Paper Mill.
The need for roofing felt paper in 1915 brought about the formation of the Radcliffe Paper Mill Company Limited by John R Seddon (also director of East Lancashire Paper Mill), Samuel Nesbitt and Arnold C Wilby. The chosen site for the Radcliffe Paper Mill was a disused mill in James Street, Radcliffe, formerly Outwood Paper and Board Company Ltd.
The first Radcliffe Paper Mill employed around 60 employees and by the mid 1970's this had swelled to 700. Radcliffe Paper Mill and East Lancs Paper Mill were major employers in Radcliffe for most of the late 20th Century
Original yearly production was around 2000 tons and this increased to in excess of 100,000 tons at the peak of production in the 1980's
All manufacturing was made from waste paper and rags. The rag content was old clothes, cotton, wool and other textiles. The rag was used to produce roofing felt used in construction.
The large triangular shaped reservoir is the central feature of the nature reserve and it has been recorded as a Grade B Site of Biological Importance (SBI). The SBI status has been awarded for the aquatic plants that can be found within it, and in particular, the locally rare Water Violet (Hottonia palustris).
Water birds like coot and moorhen are permanent residents on the reservoir.
In the woodland areas, Oak, Ash, Sycamore and Hawthorn can be found with Willow around the edge of the reservoirs. The woodland is an important refuge for wildlife and many typical bird species including Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Wren, Chaffinch and Nuthatch have been recorded here.