Carr Mill Dam is situated just off the A580 East Lancashire road, near to Billinge, St.Helens.
At 0.22 km2, Carr Mill dam is the largest inland body of water on Merseyside and was expanded, in the mid 1700s, from being a small mill pond to a large reservoir to hold water to keep the Sankey canal topped up. The Dam was widened again towards the end of the 19th Century by the London and North Wester Railway, which had water extraction rights from the Dam. Carr Mill Dam is used both by St.Helens Angling Association and the Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club, who both hold many competitions on the water, both club and championship, throughout the year.
Carr Mill Dam is fed by two streams, the Goyt and the Black Brook, which both enter from the Billinge side of the Dam. The dam has two overflows, which feed into the blackbrook basin, which leads to the Blackbrook Canal, a part of the Sankey Navigation.
Water skiing also takes place on the Dam, and skiers can be seen on many sunny evenings and weekends.
Water Skiing is run by, and is an active section of, the Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club, who also, occasionally, hold water Ski jumping competitions.
Carr Mill Dam is popular with walkers and is a part of the St Helens Rangers Billinge Loop walk route. The Billinge Loop is organised by the Rangers a couple of times a year, but they also have a walk guide, available here, on the St.Helens.gov website, in printable pdf format.
The Dam is also home to many species of birds, small animals, butterflies and moths and many species of wild flowers and plants. St Helens Rangers have information boards placed, unobtrusively, around the dam, with pictures and information about some of the natural wildlife. For more information about the wildlife and some of the special wildlife trips prvided by the rangers, the Ranger Station is a reasonably short walk down the Sankey Valley, or a quick drive. The ranger station post code, for your satnav is WA11 0AB. You will find it behind the Ship Inn, on Blackbrook Road.
The Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club is based at the Boathouse at Carr Mill Dam and was established in 1932. The aim of the club is to promote the enjoyment of powered water sports on the Dam.
The clubs principal activity is powerboat racing and the club is proud to have National and World Champions along with World Water Speed Record holders amongst its members.
A complimentary sport is that of waterskiing and many of their members enjoy both water-skiing and wake-boarding all year round.
The Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club also pride themselves on being one of the foremost UK clubs in providing RYA (Royal Yacht association) approved Powerboat Race Training for youngsters between the ages of 9-16 using the club’s in house training boat and equipment. More details about the training can be found on the clubs website www.lancashirepowerboat.com
This video is from 2011. I have other, more recent videos, but this one appears to be liked by more people on youtube, so I have added it. It was the first race of the season at Carr Mill, in later races the weather is warmer, the trees greener and Carr Mill is at it’s most beautiful, but you still enjoy watching the racing all year round.
If you watch the racing from the boathouse, you can buy drinks and snaks from the boathouse cafe. Or there is a pub at he entrance to the Dam, called the Waterside, which has a nice beer garden facing the Dam.
Fishing rights to Carr Mill Dam are held by St.Helens Angling Association.
There are 160 pegs and the Association holds many large fishing matches on the Dam each year.
There are bream, perch, roach, skimmers, pike, tench, gudgeon, mirror carp, common carp, and eels.
Average depth for pole fishing is 6 foot. Feeder fishing from 25 – 40 yards.
Best baits are maggot, caster, or worm.
Anglers also use another part of the Dam, that many visitors do not see, on the other side of the old Carr Mill Road, a farm track used to access Otter Swift Farm.
Carr Mill Dam is a popular place aongst bird watchers, as it attracts large numbers of unusual and locally rare species, both migratory and resident.
The dam is home to one of the biggest Great Crested Grebe populations in Merseyside. Kingfisher, Little Grebe and Grey Wagtail are seen all year round and the dams woodland has, in the past, attracted all three woodpeckers as well as Willow Tit, Sparrowhawk and migrant Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler.
Rare birds spotted at the dam include, Smew, Dunlin, Bar Tailed Godwit and Glaucus Gull.
For more information on local sightings visit birdwatchinginsthelens.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
There is a footpath around the circumference of the dam, with excellent views of both the dam and surrounding countyside. At just under 2 miles, the walk should take around 30 to 40 minutes. With fields and woodland just off the footpath, Carr Mill Dam is a great place to walk your dog. There are dog waste bins in place along the footpath too.
For a longer walk the Dam is also at the start of the Sankey Valley Country Park, itself a really lovely walk, and also not far from Billinge Hill. The St Helens Rangers Billinge Loop Walk, mentioned at the top of the page, takes in a small part of Sankey Valley, Carr Mill Dam, Crank, Fir Tree Farm and Billinge Hill
The dam has two overflows feeding into the blackbrook basin which, in turn, leads to the Blackbrook Canal, a part of the Sankey Navigation.
Youngsters still play on the old, stepped, overflow and back in the 1950’s and 60’s families would come to picknick on the hill next to the overflow. At that time Carr Mill Dam also had an amusement park and narrow guage railway, near to where the Waterside Pub and the Premier Inn Hotel stand today.
The Photograph above, from around 1920, of the pleasure pavilion on Carr Mill Dam is provided courtesy of Mr Derek Wilson. It is from an auction catalogue of the time and shows the pleasure pavilion, situated almost directly across the water from where the existing boathouse is situated. The remains of the Carr Mill Dam pavilion are still, just, identifiable today.
There are two streams that feed Carr Mill Dam, Black Brook enters from near the bottom of Birchley Road and the Goyt, which runs by the eastern side of Billinge and enters the dam via Goyt Hey Wood. There is a large rock by the footpath at Goyt Hey Wood, with the words "the goyt" carved into it, just before a metal footbridge that crosses the Goyt.
The lower reaches of the Goyt are home to a strange, mainly nocturnal, fish called the bullhead.
On the Billinge side of the Dam is a 19 arch aquaduct, which used to carry a water pipe that ran from reservoires in Rivington to the Reservoires that were at Eccleston Lane ends near Prescot. The Eccleston Lane ends reservoir was then used to supply the city of Liverpool with water. This reservoir scheme was completed in 1856.
There is now no pipe on the bridge, only a concrete footpath on one side and a lower level filled with weeds in summer, where the pipe ran on the other side. The aquaduct is safe enough but is now showing its age with a lot of wear and tear.