Always described as Winsford’s best natural asset, the Flashes are three lakes along the course of the River Weaver. The lakes are called Top Flash, Middle Flash and Bottom Flash, and they extend over some 200 acres (80 hectares).
They formed in the 19th century (cartographical evidence dates their formation to between 1845 and 1872), due to the subsidence of surface ground into underground voids. The voids were largely the result of brine extraction, in which rock salt deposits were dissolved and washed out by water. As the ground slumped into the voids, the River Weaver widened at each point, until lakes were made where arable land had once been.
From the late 19th century, Winsford Flashes became popular with working class day-trippers from the nearby industrial centres of Manchester and the Staffordshire Potteries. Visitors came in large numbers for a day’s leisure boating, picknicking, and sightseeing. However, the Winsford Flashes were never developed as a public amenity, and their popularity soon fell into decline.
Today, they are primarily enjoyed by the local community, and are used for sailing (Winsford Flash Sailing Club is based on the 90 acre (35 hectare) Bottom Flash), fishing, and walking. They support a wide range of wildlife, with several species of migrant wildfowl, such as Canada Geese, using them as an over-winter destination.
The people of the town are rightly protective of them and potential development near to them was one of the key issues of the Neighbourhood Plan.
This photo clearly shows how large the Flashes are. You can see the Ways Green holiday park development on the right. Much of the housing on the right of the picture (off Weaver Street) was only developed in the last ten to fifteen years.
On the right of the picture you can see the gas tower which was demolished in the early Nineties (I think). Mid-Cheshire College is there now.
At the bottom right of the picture you can see Pimlotts which was demolished around five years ago.
At the bottom of the picture you can see The Vale/Jaxx/Liquid Lounge in better times. Today it lies derelict.
At the bottom left of the picture you can see Greedy Pig/Lighthouse chippy/Old Post Office which was demolished in 2014.
Despite the loss of some of the buildings described the road layout remains entirely the same since its construction.