Journey back in time for Rock Lane re-opening
4 September 2017Passers-by were transported back to the 1600s when Rock Lane in Chester was officially re-opened to the public.
Ed Abrams from Chester Civil War Tours dressed for the occasion and 'Prince Rupert' mingled with residents and representatives from Cheshire West and Chester Council and the University of Chester at the opening ceremony.
A short length of the walls – which vary between two to six meters high – collapsed in November 2012 and Rock Lane was immediately closed for safety reasons after other areas were found to need structural repairs.
The 110 metre-long lane links Parkgate Road and Liverpool Road and it is believed that the unstable walls were built in the 19th century to retain gardens of houses built at that time.
Long and complex investigations into the ownership of walls then began. Ownership of the collapsed section of wall could not be determined, so the Council stepped in to repair that section of wall, in the absence of an owner.
A further section of privately-owned wall was then repaired to allow access for contractors to work on a long section of wall belonging to the University of Chester. When all the repairs to the walls alongside Rock Lane were completed, the Council re-surfaced the lane.
Rock Lane has been identified as part of Prince Rupert’s ‘great trench’ and was used by Royalist forces during the siege of Chester to move artillery around the city’s perimeter.
Prince Rupert, the King’s nephew visited the city soon after the outbreak of the Civil War in March 1644; voiced concerns about artillery mobility and ordered his ‘great trench’ to be built to facilitate movement.
Seventeenth century historian and author of a book about Prince Rupert, Rebecca Rideal, cut the ribbon to re-open Prince Rupert’s Trench once again. She was accompanied by her daughter, Edie, (age 9).
New street name plates, and an information board explaining the importance of the site and its royal connections, have been installed.
The Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture and Wellbeing, Councillor Louise Gittins said: “Rock Lane is one of Chester historic assets - the Civil War is a key part of the city’s history and can sometimes be overshadowed by its Roman heritage. It’s been a slow journey to get here today but now it’s open once again anyone passing through can find out a bit more about Rock Lane’s history and importance to Chester.
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support and patience while the complex legal investigations and extensive repairs were carried out.”
Rock Lane group
Cllr Beacham and Gittins with Prince Rupert
Prince Rupert, Edie and Rebecca