The Clerk of the Trust is Mr John Percival, 1 Dysart Buildings, Nantwich, CW5 5DP, Tel 01270 610300.
The fact that many of its residents are entitled to a modest annual dividend from an ancient trust has long intrigued newcomers to Nantwich. To be a beneficiary is almost a mark of dabberdom.
Nantwich as a town is in touch with its historical roots and traditions. One of the more unusual features of Nantwich history is the Beam Heath Trust. The Beam Heath is the ancient common lands of Nantwich which lay to the north and east of the town on both sides of the Middlewich Road from the Barony to the Rising Sun Inn. The heath has a long and interesting history and was available to the town’s people for grazing their animals from ancient times. The heath was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and in local documents over the years.
The framework of the modern Trust was set out in 1557 and was last updated by the Beam Heath Act 1823. The enclosure of the common land in the early nineteenth century was to allow more modern agricultural methods to be used to improve the land and its fertility. The townspeople of Nantwich were entitled to the income from the land in place of their right to graze their animals on the heath, hence the dividend.
In recent years, the lands and capital funds of the Trust have been added to as a result of the building of the Nantwich bypass and the Sainsbury’s superstore and the Barony Employment Park. The trustees now manage approximately 600 acres of agricultural land which is let to farming tenants.
The trustees are elected by the Beam Heath recipients and only those entitled to receive the dividend are eligible for election. The trustees hold a claims meeting in the Nantwich Parish Rooms usually in June every year to allow new claimants to prove their right to receive a dividend. A successful claimant will receive the dividend in following years hand-delivered to their home address by the Trust’s distributor, so long as they are in when he calls. Two weeks before the meeting, notices are placed around the town and in the Chronicle giving details of the claims meeting and its procedure.
The trust is presently managed under rules set out in the Beam Heath Act 1823.
The Beam Heath dividend is distributed annually to qualifying householders of the Ancient Parish of Nantwich.
The dividend represents the surplus income of the Trust from rents and investments.
It was common land so Nantwich people drove their livestock out to Beam Heath to graze along… Beam Street.
There was once a Nantwich race course on Beam Heath. The course opened in 1729 but racing ended in 1824 when the heath was enclosed by hedges and fences.
You may qualify for a dividend if you meet one or more of the following criteria: –
- seven years continual residence as an inhabitant householder
- birth (to be proven by the production of a long form of birth certificate showing parents’ address within the area of benefit)
- former recipients after two years continual residence.