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Chapelfield is one of seven local nature reserves that can be found in Bury.

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. This status was awarded due to the aquatic plants found within it and in particular, the locally-rare Water Violet (Hottonia palustris).

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. Water birds like coot and moorhen are also permanent residents on the reservoir.

Chapelfield history

Since the completion of the Woodland Chase housing development, there are very few features that point to the industrial past and also 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 who is also the director of East Lancashire Paper Mill, as well as Samuel Nesbitt and Arnold C Wilby. The chosen site for the Radcliffe Paper Mill was a disused mill in James Street, Radcliffe, formerly known as Outwood Paper and Board Company Ltd.

Radcliffe Paper Mill and East Lancs Paper Mill were major employers in Radcliffe for most of the late twentieth century. The first Radcliffe Paper Mill employed around 60 employees and increased to 700 employees by the mid-1970's.

Original yearly production was around 2000 tonnes, increasing in excess of 100,000 tonnes 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.

Proposed improvement work

A successful application to the Greater Manchester Green Spaces Fund for Chapelfield has been awarded in Round 2 of the project in 2022.

The project, managed by Proffitts in partnership with Bury Council, will seek to clean up the site and improve Chapelfield Local Nature Reserve to transform the area into a place where local people can enjoy and connect with nature.

Some of the proposed elements will include a litter pick and clean up around the site, landscaping the former abandoned allotment site and managing the invasive plant, Japanese Knotweed (which is present on site), tree work and woodland management and the planting of a fruit orchard for the local community.