Explorer and Independent Biologist

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Mereside Chronicle

A tribute to Charles F Tunnicliffe (1901 - 1979)

When I was a very small Maalie, my sister gave me a book that had a life-changing influence on me: Mereside Chronicle by C F Tunnicliffe, naturalist and artist. His book records his observations and sketches through the year at various meres and water bodies around his home near Macclesfield, Cheshire.

Even at the tender age at which I read the book, its impact was to impress on me the discipline of making regular observations, and recording them. The book was published in 1948 and therefore the pictures show scenes as they existed at least 63 years ago. My aim on this rather misty-murky New Year's Eve was to try to locate and photograph some of the scenes depicted by Tunnicliffe.

Capesthorne Pools 
Capethorne Pools are old fish ponds associated with Capesthorne Hall

There can be no doubt about which tree Tunnicliffe was depicting in his drawing (above): although the tree has grown thicker in the ensuing 65 years, the individual branches can be recognised.

The arches of the bridge across these old fish ponds appear through the fog

My sister Jill sits on the parapet of the bridge 
once again holding the book she gave me so many years ago

 Redesmere is a reservoir that was clearly one of Tunnicliffe's favourite places. Unfortunately the foggy whether did not permit some of the scenic views but nevertheless some features were clearly recognisable.

The road has been widened and a car park constructed, but the Henbury Road leading down to Redesmere 
can be recognised from Tunnicliffe's drawing

Despite the fog concealing the mere, Tunnicliffe's white railings remain.
However the un-eroded state of the concrete posts 
suggest the fence has been replaced

 Further along we find an old dilapidated, eroded  section of fence 
which no doubt dates back to Tunnicliffe's era

 Gawsworth Pools
The Gawsworth Pools are old fish ponds associated with Gawsworth Hall. With the church and buildings still present, it was easy to relocate the scenes of Tunnicliffe's sketches
 The growth of vegetation around the church has changed, but the view is clear

 At the Upper Pool the sign has changed and the square building has an extension

North Rode Pool
 North Rode Pool seems to have changed very little since Tunnicliffe's day.
The outlet shaft and white house at the far end of the pool are still present

 To find out more about the life and work of this remarkable birdwatcher and artist, 
you can visit the website of the Charles Tunnicliffe Society


  1. Neat, Jim! And when is your book coming out?!?

  2. Those comparison photographs are really good. It was great fun doing the research with you.

  3. What a remarkable post! It is wonderful that you were able to find and show so many comparisons. And the misty conditions made for an interesting point of difference.

  4. That is just delightful. Thanks for taking the time to make the comparisons.

  5. What a wonderful experience you have shared. A very unique, and enjoyable, posting. Thanks.

  6. This was fascinating! I studied each set of photos and drawings that you shared with us and enjoyed every minute of it. It was remarkable to see all the similarities that are still there. I think my favorite is Old Hall Pool and the Church. The tree on the left at the waterside in his drawing is now practically falling into the water!

  7. top post! I was very influenced by a book called "David goes to Zulu Land" a Book iread dozens of times until the book fell apart. I have tried in vein to find the book again.

  8. Thank for the incredibly beautiful scenic tour!

  9. Wow...thanks for sharing! That was really cool!

  10. Very cool - glad to have a chance to read through

  11. I do enjoy going on a mission myself, and this is a such a beautiful one. I've really enjoyed it.

  12. What a LOVELY and interesting post Maalie. I loved your pictures and actually think the fog added beauty to them. Thanks for leaving me a comment, after so long a time, so I'd link to see what you were up to. On the comment: since we disagree about other things it would not be surprising we would disagree on this one.

  13. I wanted to do the same kind of thing when I visit Constable Country - maybe I will one day.

  14. I used to fish the Cheshire meres in the late 60's and 70's with a guy called Fred Tunnicliffe, Had a large milk distribution company. From the Stoke area. Fred has now sadly passed away. Cannot help but wonder if he was a relative of the artist..