What is it?
A map of Cheshire, showing some of her landmarks in micro-builds across
the traditional county’s landscape. The "teapot" shape is shown
from the north-east "handle" to the "spout" at the Wirral peninsular
to the west. The Wirral is bracketed by the rivers Dee to the south and Mersey
to the north. The Irish Sea is to the west. This map is the same one I previously submitted
as a project showing the folktales of the county, but I have updated it
(including removing the patchwork of fields, so that now the land is one solid
shade of green).
The individual items, roughly anti-clockwise (“counter-clockwise” for
our American members) from top left, are as follows:
1. Fort Perch Rock, New Brighton – Designed to protect the Mersey
from raiders, and now home to a local maritime and aviation museum. It is the sandstone diamond jutting out into
the river from top of the Wirral and is nicknamed “The Gibraltar of the
Mersey”. Leaving the Mersey, she is the
last part of home a sailor like myself would see, and the first bit of Cheshire
glimpsed upon return.
2. Bidston Observatory – With the two white domes at her
front. This important institute’s tide
predicting machines are world-famous. As a seaman, she is important to me as
reflective of the importance of maritime life to Cheshire.
3. The Ship Building Hall & Slipway at Cammell Laird’s main
yard in Birkenhead – Nestled amongst the basins and graving docks of the
world-renowned shipyard is the massive construction complex where the
icebreaker, Royal Research Ship “Sir David Attenborough” was built. The ship can be seen moored in the river,
having had her superstructure added at the outfitting berths in the wet basin. This yard has always been an important
landmark, and I have been privileged to see many ships & rigs take shape
here, as well as serving in some of those vessels.
4. Chester Zoo – The second largest zoological gardens in the UK, and
a place I remember fondly from visits as a child, she is represented here by a
giraffe sticking his neck out of his house, and a chimpanzee swinging about his
5. The City of Chester – The “County Town” of Cheshire is shown
with her Roman Walls partly cleared in order to show The Rows: The unique Tudor
galleries where shops are housed on walkways above street level. Chester was always a favourite place to visit
during my youth.
6. Beeston Castle – One of many Cheshire castles and forts, this
impressive edifice is represented here by a model of her gatehouse and the curtain
wall of the main accommodations, accessed by a walkway leading from the walled
outer ward (which structure I have not constructed). I have built this to show some of the rich
local history I grew up amongst.
7. Oulton Park Motor Racing
Circuit – Seen in a clear grey outline, this is where me & my father spent
many a weekend at motorcycle meets, and where he used to be a marshal at
motorbike races. In part, this bit of
the model is in honour of Dad, who passed away last April. Included here is a small build of a Maxton
racer: A locally-built motorcycle (the factory is in Kingswood, Frodsham, where
today they focus on frames, suspension, and tuning) we used to enjoy watching
triumph at Oulton.
8. A dairy farm – One of our many
farms, with her Friesian cows herding into the cattle shed beside the
farmhouse, ready for milking (to keep us supplied in wonderful Cheshire
9. The Salt Union Shaft Tower & salt mountains at Winsford – Showing
the pink salt extracted from Winsford Rock Salt Mine (the largest and oldest
working mine in Britain), ready for transport by road or by river. One of the massive underground caverns
created by the mine here is now used by “DeepStore” to preserve archives &
valuables for the nation. This is yet
another bit of Cheshire’s industry, and contributions to the nation’s wealth,
that I am fiercely proud of.
10. Jodrell Bank Observatory, Macclesfield – The radio astronomy centre,
which I have previously honoured in a build for the “Keep it Basic!” activity. I used to be able to see this enigmatic site
from my home and was always fascinated by her.
11. “White Nancy” on Kerridge Hill – This folly is a bell-shaped dome
that used to be treated to a facelift each Christmas, wherein she would be
painted as Father Christmas (“Santa Claus”) or a Christmas pudding, for
example. I love this bit of local
culture and I think it shows our friendly & jovial character quite well.
12. The Anderton Boat Lift – Nicknamed “The Cathedral of the Canals”,
this impressive structure lifts boats from the River Weaver Navigation to the
Trent & Mersey Canal (over an incline of fifty feet). Both waterways are shown in the build, the
Weaver being the southernmost, which flows past Winsford and her salt mines
(see above), from the “Winsford Flashes” to the south (large lakes created by
subsidence from the salt mining). On the
Weaver is a small ship, representing the coasters from Europe that often sail
her. Even from the high vantage of my parent’s
house on Frodsham (or “Overton”) Hill, you could not see the water and they
looked like they were sailing through the fields! I have sailed these waters, and visited these
places, several times over the years and they hold a special place in my heart.
12A. The Stockport Pyramid – This is a steel-framed blue-and-clear
glass building. Whenever I drive over to
visit Mum, this is the first bit of Cheshire that leaps out of me as I pass
through Greater Manchester. It is,
therefore, an important landmark for me.
14. Sci-Tech Daresbury Enterprise Zone, Runcorn, and her Van Der Graff
Generator – The huge white mushroom-like tower of the generator is the focal
point of this multi-functional research and business park, linked to the UK
Space Agency as part of the North West “Space Hub”. I am very proud of this facility being in my
15. Halton Castle, Runcorn – Subject of a previous project of mine, she
is seen again here because I couldn’t build Beeston Castle without showing my
home town’s own ancient fortress!
16. The bridges linking Runcorn to Widnes, across the Mersey – The green
arch of the road bridge (once the largest single-span arch in Europe) can be
seen alongside the older sandstone railway bridge (which was included in
another earlier work of mine, “Runcorn Waterfront”). These two landmarks are synonymous with my
home town and HAD to be included here.
17. The National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port – Formerly known as
the “Boat Museum”, this fantastic place hosts a number of preserved boats,
including narrowboats, like the one sat on the shore in this model to mark the
institution’s location. I have always
enjoyed visits here to see vessels built in my home town and other Cheshire
18. I have added an extra bonus in. It’s not a landmark, but it IS related to number 3 on this list… If you spot it, leave me a message with a
guess as to what it is!
Why did I build it?
Cheshire is my home county, and Runcorn my home town, and I am proud of
our history & industriousness. I
made this to show a small sample of that and to share it with the LEGO Ideas
community. Like many people currently, I
am unable to travel like I would wish to, and I miss visiting Cheshire and all
of her wonderful sights. This is a little
bit therapy for me!
Will it make a good LEGO set?
I believe that it will as it is a simple enough build and a concept that
could be applied to any town, dale, county, state, or country. It would
make a nice display and could be framed in a LEGO border to add to its look (I
did not do so in this instance, as I thought it would make it even more tricky
to photograph). Similar builds could be made to show other local features
(such as industrial centres or factories, for those interested in industrial
archaeology or current business) and I think this could be a nice new line for