THIS week in Looking Back, we share the incredible story of a once famous boating lake.

In its heyday, the area at Mill Lane in Stockton Heath was used for rowing, swimming and fishing in the summer and skating and curling in the winter.

And it has had a variety of uses and been known by several names in its past.

Margaret Fellows, historian, got in touch to tell us its true history.

It was originally the site of a medieval water-powered corn mill, the mill pond being fed by the water from Lumb Brook. It was an undershot mill, and some of the head and tail gate mechanisms being still visible in the late 1970's. Early maps it is show it as Latchford Mill, but it has also been known as Lumb Brook Mill, and in later years as Stockton Mill.

One of the earliest records of this mill is in the land survey conducted by Sir Peter Legh of Lyme in 1465, the then owner. The Arley Estate records show that by the mid 18th century, it was owned by the Egerton family, and in the 19th century Cheshire Tithe maps, the owner is listed as John Smith Barry. The occupier under the latter ownership was Joseph Blinston, who also farmed 14 acres of adjoining land.

The Blinston family operated the corn mill and a brew house at the back, from the mid 1830s until the mill closed in the early 1890's. It was then demolished, although the family continued to farm the surrounding land for some years. The Deeds for Latchford Mill are now in the John Rylands Library in Manchester.

The mill house had been built early in the 1800s and had a variety of occupiers until it too was demolished early in 1950.

On the 23rd of October 1909, part of the site of the Mill Pond (now the Mill Lane Diamond Jubilee Field) was sold to Greenall Whitley & Co. by Piers Egerton Warburton, but by this time it was already in an overgrown state, and a very unpleasant and insanitary area.

The area was rescued by Dr J. S. Parker, a Warrington doctor, who requested the owners to improve the area but with little success. However, not daunted, he campaigned to have the area improved, and formed an association, with the grand title of "The Stockton Heath and District Swimming, Angling and Boating Association", with the object of raising money to put his ideas into practice.

He again approached the owners and presented a plan to turn the area into a recreational lake. Agreement was reached, and Dr. Parker set about raising the money from public subscriptions, with offers of help from Greenall Whitley. So work commenced, the first job being to dredge the pool over an area of 2.1/2 acres, ensuring that the bottom was deep enough and cleared of rubbish to be made safe and suitable for bathing.

The sides were pitched, an island was created in the middle and sluice gates built. All work was completed by Messrs. Davenport & Sons and funded by Greenall Whitley. On the 4th July 1910, the Lake was officially opened by Mrs. Lyon of Appleton Hall.

A fleet of rowing boats had been purchased, 24 bathing boxes and a diving platform was provided for swimmers, and the pool was stocked with fish for the anglers. There were a score of seats along 250 yards of concrete footpaths, a refreshment hut had been erected and a band was to play on the tree studded island. In the winter the ice was to be reserved for skating and curling. All was surrounded with hundreds of yards of chestnut fencing.

This enviable facility eventually fell into disrepair, and on October 20, 1936, the land on which the mill had stood was given to Stockton Heath Parish Council by Greenall Whitley & Co. Ltd. The announcement was later made in December 1970, that a school was to be built on the site.

The Parish Council bought the Mill Pond land on February 9, 1960 for £750, and spent £2300 to fence, fill-in and seed the ground where the lake had been. The field was then rented out to Warrington Town Football Club at a rental of £100 per annum, an arrangement which was short lived.

After this, the field was used only occasionally as the sports field for St Thomas's Church School, and by local children, and has been one of the venues for the Stockton Heath festival since 2008.

In 2013 the Mill Lane Field was placed in trust as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and as a result, will be protected from development and preserved as a resource for the community, in perpetuity. It has been renamed the "Queen Elizabeth II Community Field - Mill Lane Diamond Jubilee Field”, and continues to be managed by Stockton Heath Parish Council.