A Stroll Around Nether Kellet

Our stroll begins at Shaw Lane, at the bottom end of the village field. No one seems to know who “Shaw” was, but many years ago the name was pronounced “Shaa” which was a very early spelling of Shaw, so the name probably goes back a considerable time.

The bath used as a planter in the area opposite Rose Cottage is also something of a mystery. For many years it was used as a water trough in what is now the sports field but it is a very heavy-duty one, of the type commonly used in workhouses, prisons and hospitals around the mid 19th Century. It formerly belonged to Briar House Farm and may at one time have been in the farmhouse itself. One of the village springs flows into a stone trough alongside.

The present Nether Kellet Community Primary School on Bridge Road was built in 1972. It was extended in 2003 by the erection of the assembly hall/gymnasium and in 2008 a further extension added extra storage, office space and disabled toilets. In 2007, a pleasant garden was created by members of the Gardening Club, and a splendid play area was set up nearby.

Further along Shaw Lane stands the Village Hall, erected 1964, and since modernised several times. It is in constant use by a wide range of organisations (past and present) including the Bowling Club, Good Companions, Brownies, Play School, Womens Institute, Gardening Club, etc. The licensed bar can be opened for functions, by arrangement with the Village Hall Committee. A small, well-used playground is located opposite the hall, in a corner of the village field.

Skirting back round the field, the natural spring on the right of Halton road is the one that gives the village its name. Even in times of drought, its clear water continues to pour into a stone trough.

Behind the trough stands the redundant cast-iron pump used by the villagers before the arrival of the mains water supply. Set back a few yards, on the opposite side of the road, is an unusual feature – a small concrete obelisk – the Peace Stone. No one from Nether Kellet was lost in either of the two World Wars, so a tree (which has not survived) was planted by way of thanksgiving and this stone was its marker.

On the corner of Halton Road and Main Road is the old village shop. Until 2008 this was also a Post Office, but despite vociferous protest, closure went ahead, removing an invaluable service. Despite a later attempt to rejuvenate it, the village’s only shop closed in 2018. Across the Main Road is the tiny Anglican Church of St. Marks. “The Limeburners” the village’s public house nearby recalls that roasting limestone in special stone-built kilns to produce agricultural lime and lime-mortar was once an important commercial activity in the area. As we shall see, the remains of two such kilns can be seen on the outskirts of the village.

Many of the old farmhouses and barns have been converted into tasteful dwellings as the mechanisation of farming has very greatly reduced the numbers of farmers and farm labourers.

A couple of hundred yards up the hill we come to the Congregational Church Hall, which was originally a house and barn. The building was later converted first into a Sunday school and then into a day school, in which role it continued until the present school was erected. At the rear of the building windows can still be seen high in the walls; these were bedroom windows when the building was a house. On alternate Friday mornings, coffee and home made cakes etc. are served to appreciative villagers who, for a nominal donation, spend a pleasant morning setting the world to rights.

The Congregational Church (to the left of the Hall) was built in 1869 on land donated by Miss Elizabeth Bateson, the first teacher at the Sunday School, who died in 1889. In the following year a house was built nearby as a memorial to her; this was for the use of the schoolmaster.

Further up the hill on the right, the Threshing End group of buildings (formerly shippons) is another reminder of the area’s farming past.

Do watch out for traffic at the “T” junction with “Back Lane” – fleets of heavy lorries serving the quarries use this route. Near the top of the hill on the right is a recently installed footpath that leads towards Over Kellet. Part way along this path are the remains of one of the old lime-kilns, and another better preserved one can be seen further along on the left hand side of the road.

The neighbouring village of Over Kellet is located about a mile and a half beyond The Hawthorns, a beautifully landscaped Caravan Park. The two Kellet villages are jointly twinned with the French town of Bussieres.

Harry Fancy