Saturday, 25 February 2017

Monday, 20 February 2017


The Wheelock Aqueduct on the SUC Middlewich Branch, February 2012.
by Dave Roberts
Jim Moores has been out and about recently gathering photographs for his excellent new Facebook page 
'The Canals & Rivers of Middlewich' and here he's giving us all a glimpse of one of the three aqueducts in the town - one we've talked about in several previous Middlewich Diary entries but have never had the chance of a proper look at, until now. 
Like so many such places around our town, the SUC* aqueduct over the River Wheelock, just yards away from the much better known (for obvious reasons) Nantwich Road aqueduct, is a 'hidden gem'. 
It's very similar to the nearby road aqueduct which was built at the same time but, in the case of the river aqueduct, the large sweeping buttresses on either side,with ornamental stone pillars at the end of them are very obvious:

Actually, this is explained very much better by George Nash in Wych & Water (Middlewich Vision 2009):

'At either end of the supporting revetment are curvilinear piers that terminate to form circular roundels. A similar ornamental arrangement is present on one of the surviving piers attached to the Croxton Aqueduct'

The Nantwich Road aqueduct is lacking these stone pillars and the opulent curves on either side of the road, presumably because of space constraints in the narrow cutting in which it lies. According to George Nash (see above), the road aqueduct is, in any case, smaller than the one over the river.
It seems strange, though, that the river aqueduct, out of sight of the general public, should be given these embellishments and the Nantwich Road one left unadorned.
In the early 1960s,when I was still at Wimboldsley Primary School  I remember playing around this aqueduct with a group of friends.
One of our ambitions was to walk through the aqueduct from one side to the other along the middle of the river.
We never did it, as we were unsure how deep the river was.
In those days, just a short distance into the tunnel (both these aqueducts are more like short tunnels,burrowing into the canal embankment, than bridges) on the Wimboldsley side was what looked very much like an abandoned boat.
Another of our ambitions was to rescue this boat, repair it, and  go sailing all around the canals and rivers of Middlewich,like our heroes the Swallows and Amazons.
That never happened either.
Jim's third photograph shows the River Wheelock flowing on from the aqueduct and heading off towards its meeting with the River Dane at Croxton.

UPDATE (20th February 2017)
When a link to this diary entry was re-published on Facebook in February 2017, Andy Boardman got in touch to say that he too had photographed the aqueduct in 2015. His excellent study, us an overall view of the structure, is reproduced, with permission, below

Photo: Andy Boardman

* Shropshire Union Canal (Middlewich Branch)

Note: This entry started a discussion in the 'comments' section (see below) of a 'tunnel' under the canal in or near Norman's wood. 

Jim Moores' Canals & Rivers of Middlewich' Facebook page has photos.

The Norman's Wood 'tunnel' under the SUC Middlewich Branch at Norman's Wood. Is it a tunnel, or more properly a drainage culvert?
Photo: Jim Moores
First published 18th February 2012
Revised and re-published 20th February 2017

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


Find out more about the Murgatroyd's project on the

As any schoolboy knows, this area has for centuries been famous for its salt industry, and Middlewich still flies the flag with one of the most important salt manufacturing plants in the country. 
And the Murgatroyd's brine shaft, its brine pumps and associated infrastructure, are a very special part of the story of Cheshire Salt, with the Murgatroyd's site having the distinction of being the only one of its kind still in existence.
Middlewich Heritage Trust is working hard to preserve it for posterity so that Middlewich can take its rightful place, alongside the Lion Salt Works, as part of the history of Cheshire salt. Don't miss your chance to find out more about this important national project. Click on the link above for pictures of one of the 2016 open days, and for more information about the Murgatroyd's site and its preservation.

Monday, 13 February 2017


A real asset to our town is GO LOCAL, the magazine which is distributed every two months to every house in Middlewich. 

The magazine includes features of interest to everyone living here. 

There's a regular look at Middlewich history presented by Julie Elizabeth Smalley in MIDDLEWICH'S HERITAGE.

The COMMUNITY PAGE features notices giving details of upcoming events in the town, 

And the DID YOU KNOW? page  never fails to provide some fascinating esoteric and off-the-wall information. 

There are also full listings of the many and varied events taking place here month after month throughout the year in the WHAT'S ON section .

On top of this,  GO LOCAL is crammed with advertisements  which will be useful to anyone in Middlewich who wants to find a local business or service. 

There's also a READY REFERENCE section with contact details for all the vital services in the town you may need.

And it's all delivered FREE to your letterbox!


The FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 issue is out now.

Julie Smalley's  MIDDLEWICH'S HERITAGE looks at manors. lodges and halls of all kinds. As well as our public amenity buildings including the  community centre and civic hall, now brilliantly re-christened the Victoria Hall, Middlewich has several older and more historic halls, including Middlewich Manor, Ravenscroft Hall and Bostock Hall and you can find out something of their history in this fascinating article.

DID YOU KNOW? is all about SIberian Huskies, Britain's largest park, the origins of the name March for the third month of the year, Marie Curie, the Knights of the Garter and Marks and Spencer!

And all the other features are present and correct too!

If you've had a copy of GO LOCAL through your door and never bothered to look at it, take a look now! It always repays inspection!


Saturday, 11 February 2017



Kerry Fletcher writes:

I need help to save the Murgatroyd's open pan works model which is currently on display at Weaver Hall Museum Northwich.

This model is being taken out mid-March and  I need help with funding to be able to dismantle the model, transport it back to Middlewich and re-assemble at the Victoria Building.
I also need to be able to pay for the room hire costs, so we can do the model justice in its new home, once again welcoming visitors.
Anyone interested in helping please contact me on 01606 841379. Please share!

January 28th 2014

Editor's note:

If you can help, or know someone who can, please contact Kerry on the above number.
Although the latter days of open pan salt making in the town were dominated by the three Seddon's works in Pepper Street, Brooks Lane and Wych-House Lane, Murgatroyd's works, also in Brooks lane, continued operating right up until 1966 and had the distinction of remaining under the same ownership throughout its life.
Below are links to some of the information on Murgatroyd's we have in the Middlewich Diary. There will, in due course, be more to come.
Dave Roberts




(includes notes from Kerry Fletcher)




UPDATE (February 2017)

The model was brought back to the town where it, arguably, belongs but, unfortunately, nowhere has yet been found large enough to put it on permanent display. The obvious place would, of course, be somewhere on the Murgatroyd's Brine Pump site which is currently in the process of being preserved. 

MURGATROYD'S BRINE PUMPS (Middlewich Heritage Trust)

First published 11th February 2014

Updated and re-published 11th February 2017

Monday, 6 February 2017


Looked at thirty-six years after it was taken, this picture by Jack Stanier comes as something of a shock as we realise just how extensive were the alterations to Kinderton Street at that time. If you followed our pontifications earlier this year about Kinderton Street, you'll know that we have gradually revised our assumed dates for this transformation from around 1972 (when St Michael's Way was built) to a couple of  years later, which is why we've dated this slide at 1975.
In those days panoramic views of Middlewich could be
obtained by paying 5p for a trip up the Church tower
Jack was taking advantage of one of the occasional Church Tower open days which happened in those days on a regular basis. This one was in September (according to the inscription on the slide). We have already published my shot of the same view a couple of years earler, before demolition began in earnest and a direct comparison of the two shots is very interesting. We'll be publishing the two shots side by side shortly to make direct comparison easier (not so much a 'Now & Then' feature as a 'Then & Just BeforeThen' feature...)
When you look at Kinderton Street today, it's hard to imagine that it was ever any different, but Jack's picture shows just how narrow the original road was, particularly at the top end. But quite a large proportion of that huge swathe of cleared ground in the middle of the picture is now given over not to traffic, but to a wide footpath and landscaping, and the actual usable carriageway seems only to have been widened sufficiently to bring it in line with the width of the road at Town Bridge and Station Bridge at either end.
The' black stripe' running along the left hand edge of that huge area is the temporary and rather precarious footpath which was placed high on the top of the bank to  maintain pedestrian access to King Street. Just how precarious this path was can be seen here.
Note that  Ashleys, the contractors building the new carriageway, have established a base on part of the Seabank car park.
And on the extreme right of the picture, you can see that the cottages on the right hand side of Seabank are yet to be demolished.
Some of the features seen before in our in-depth examinations of Kinderton Street are present and correct.
On the right, the jumble of offices and houses which now make up the Kinderton Hotel can be seen, below the Boar's Head, and close by is another of those old GPO red phone boxes.
At  the top of all that cleared ground, Moreton's old farmhouse has disappeared and its modern and boring replacement can be seen just to the left.
Way out on the horizon, that white dot is the Jodrell Bank radio telescope near Chelford and, closer to home, we can just see the little wooden boat, peeping into shot bottom right, which became almost a part of the Town Wharf as she was moored there for many years. Her name was, I think, Tilley, and she was owned by Tommy Williams who worked all his life on the canals, eventually settling down to live in a cottage in Canal Terrace close to Middlewich Narrowboats.

Facebook Feedback (2016)

This diary entry's second outing on Facebook, in February 2016, brought this interesting crop of comments:

Peter Wakefield I was about nine years old and going to St Mary's RC Primary School in King Street, just around the corner, when this photograph was taken in 1975. On the town bridge there always used to be a crossing patrol managed by a local policeman. Outside the school in King Street there was a 'lollipop' crossing. The location of Middlewich Railway Station was just below the 'J' and to the left. That red telephone box used to take 2p and 10p pieces. Then Harold Wilson put the 2p price up to 5p. 'Don't forget to dial 100 and tell the operator to get off the line - there's a train coming!' or 'Can we ask the fire brigade if we can put some coal on the fire until they get there?' The white disc in the background is the parabolic dish of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, which is owned by the University of Manchester. To the right are the Pennine Hills, Mow Cop, The Cloud, Macclesfield and Congleton. Further right still lies Derbyshire...

Paul Williams I remember that copper all too well. He kicked me up the arse for crossing town bridge when there was a car coming!

Geraldine Williams 1975? It took a long time for the re-development to take place then! Our home was on the right hand side of Kinderton Street - just opposite the digger on the photographe - and we had to vacate 1n 1967 when our house chimney collapsed. By that time, most of the adjacent properties were already empty.

Kevin Birchall Hard to believe how big the bend in the road was!

Facebook Feedback (2017)

Kevin Birchall I'm sure there used to be another phone box outside Chris Earl's at some point.

Geraldine Williams Yes, there was.

Helen Stanley What were those big brick archways that stood on the land where the factory shop now is? I used to think they were air raid shelter, but was told they were bread ovens. Anyone remember?

Geraldine Williams We lived for at while at 18 Kinderton Street in the 1960s and, to our left, was a deserted shop which I understood was formerly a bakery (Clewes?)
EDITOR'S NOTE, DECEMBER 2011: When we first published this photo we dated it as 1974 and argued that it was probably a couple of years later than its companion shot, also taken from the church tower which we estimated as being taken around 1972. Close examination of both pictures, however, seems to indicate that they were both taken in the same year, as so much in each shot is the same. And comparison with other pictures of the area show that the date of both is more likely to be 1975.  We have therefore revised the date of both slides to that year. This is the later, September, shot.

First published 3rd December 2011
Re-publish with additional (2016) Feedback 6th February 2017