Thursday, 12 October 2017

DERELICT HOUSE IN NANTWICH ROAD SEPTEMBER 2011

We only caught this one at the very last minute. Less than a week after our photo was taken this derelict house in Nantwich Road was reduced to a pile of rubble. It stood  just a few yards away from the aqueduct, and at the very top of the unadopted road which runs  along the top of the steep embankment above the roadway and provides access to the houses which adjoin the school playing fields. It could also be seen from the top end of Hannah's Walk, near the point where it joins the canal towpath, and from the towpath itself.
It lay derelict for many years, with its garden very overgrown and, as can be seen from the photo, was vandalised and eventually gutted by fire.
I noticed that something was happening  in the middle of September. Workmen were on site clearing the dense vegetation and building bonfires to burn it and some of the remaining timber from the house. I took the above photo and, the next time I was in the area the bulldozers were on site and had knocked the house down, leaving only a pile of rubble.
Passers by who were watching the demolition told me that they'd heard that local builder Andy Clarke had bought the house and land.
No doubt quite soon a new house and garden will occupy this spot*. In the meantime, does anyone know anything of the history of this house? From its location, and from the style of the house, it must have been a luxurious home in its day. The photograph below shows what appears to have been a fishpond, complete with rustic bridge, in what remains of the garden; a testament to happier times and better days.
* More than one, in fact. See Facebook feedback, below
Facebook feedback:
Stephen Koralski We used to go in there as teenagers and the electricity still worked. It was where I met a lot of friends - shame on who ever burnt it down,it was a nice place!

Stephen Dent:Outline planning permission was granted in 2009 to build 6 new detached houses on this land which was formerly 123 Nantwich Road. Go to http://www.doc.macclesfield.gov.uk/AnitePublicDocs/07046239.pdf to see the detail

Originally published 13th October 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 13th October 2017

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

THE COTTON HOUSES

The Cotton Houses. A very good artist's impression of what the houses looked like. This is a rear view of the properties originally painted from memory by Edward Lightfoot in 2003 under the instruction of Mrs Harriet Grainger, and supplied to me by Mrs Sheila Davies (Harriet's daughter).
by Malcolm Hough
The Cotton Houses were situated on the corner of Manor Lane and St, Ann’s Road, Middlewich. 
We lived at number 6  Manor Lane from 1953 until 1958 when they were condemned. 
I think they were owned at the time by the Smallwood family, relations of John Garner the local builder, who demolished them within a couple of years and also built the houses which are now on the same site.

There were six cottages in total, and I believe three of them were about four hundred years or more old at that time, ours being one of them, and one of the smallest. There were three rooms in total in our rented cottage, two downstairs and one up.
The ceiling height was only about six feet or so, and I can well remember  my Father banging his head on more than one occasion on the wooden beam that ran through the downstairs living room,
And he was only 5' 7" tall.
I think some years earlier the cottage that we lived in had been reduced in width to allow a hallway to be built in the already larger premises next door. This would then allow this corner house to have three doors. 
It already had a door onto Manor Lane and one onto St Ann's Road and  the new rear door, I assume, was to allow easy access to the new, then modern, outside toilets that were some way over to the far-side of the communal backyard.
I will always remember those dingy toilets with the proverbial nail in the wall. 
I am only assuming the hallway and the toilets were built at the same time.

The cottages' roofs were covered with slates, which were laid on top of the original thatched roof. I know this because the roof caught fire twice when we lived there, and I remember that on one of these occasions, a fireman shouting that it was the thatch that was on fire. It was caused by sparks coming through one of the chimney walls.
The walls of the three oldest cottages which ran along the Manor Lane boundary were made from wattle-and-daub.

The two cottages that were built on the boundary of St., Ann’s Rd., were later additions, after part of the original building must have been demolished.
I believe this image is of the front of the Cotton Houses, from the Manor Lane side. I am very grateful to Betty Williams of the Middlewich Heritage Society for finding this image in the Society's archives, where it was listed as 'unknown, but thought to be somewhere on St Ann's Road'.
When I first saw the above black and white image, I thought that it was of Derbyshire's (market gardeners) cottage which is still just across from the Manor Lane/St. Ann’s Road junction, but if it is a true image the garden would have been too large to have been Derbyshire’s, which is on the road side.

This image would also have had to have been prior to their conversion into six cottages, due to the lack of the extra chimneys on the right-hand side and the missing slate roof that was laid on top of the thatch.

The cottage that we lived in would have been the second door from the left. Everything looks right about it. It was one of the smallest of all the cottages and, as I mentioned before, the ceiling height was only about six feet or so.
That's why the door looks small compared to the newer cottage on the left-hand side of it, which I think had an eight foot ceiling, judging by the windows. The walls were flush with one and other, and not set back as it appears in the image. 

There was also a massive fireplace in our living room and a large chimney breast in the one and only bedroom.
It was definitely out of proportion to the size of the rooms. 
The fire place would have been in proportion, if it had once been one or two larger rooms either side of the chimney breast. I do remember that the bedroom window at the end of my parents bed being in the same place as shown in the image, the one below the chimney.
The bed was above the door and the downstairs window.
This image looks perfectly in proportion to how I remembered it in the late 1950’s.
I do not recall the bricks in the gable-end though.
I think it was painted white and there was a door in it, as shown in the image.
I can remember our next door neighbour Mr Hall, who was a joiner, making a new door for it. I can only imagine that the chimney was in the middle of the original building, so it would have had to have been longer on the left hand side. 
This probably would have been the original footprint of the Cotton’s work and poorhouse.
Allan Earl’s research also shows it was still a work and poorhouse in 1740. 
There may have been an extension built onto the right-hand end as well, as it seems to me to be one dwelling too short to have been six cottages.
When we lived there the end cottage that was on right-hand side also had an unattached brick wash-house with a big copper open topped coal fired boiler in it.
Can anyone else add anything to the above information?

UPDATE (10th October 2017):

Peter Atkin writes:

The old house in the story is actually the original Pear Tree Cottage in St Ann's Road, which belonged to my great grandfather Tom Turney. Here is a better copy from my family archive.

Pear Tree Cottage

Peter has been attempting to find out just where Pear Tree Cottage was in St Ann's Road. The name suggests that there might have been some connection with the extensive orchards which once occupied the area where the school grounds and  playing fields and the children's playground are now. Can anyone help? -Ed


©Malcolm Hough 2013

First published in the Middlewich Heritage Society Newsletter

UPDATE (2nd October 2017)


Illustration: Ann Birtwisle-Brown

When this diary entry was re-published at the end of September 2017, Ann Birtwisle-Brown got in touch to tell us that her great great grandparents, Isaac and Martha Sant had lived in  the Cotton Houses at the time of the 1871 census. Their daughter Mary Ann, then aged 12 was Ann's great grandmother (ATKIN(S)).

For clarity, here's a transcript of the census information, also provided by Ann:

Name: Isaac Sant
Age: 39
Estimated birth year: Abt 1832
Relation: Head
Spouse's Name: Martha Sant

Gender: Male
Where born: Middlewich, Cheshire, England
Civil Parish: Newton
Ecclesiastical Parish: Middlewich
Town: Middlewich
County/Island: Cheshire
Country: England
Registration District: Northwich
Sub-registration District: Middlewich
ED, institution, or vessel: 4
Household schedule number: 110
Piece: 3700
Folio: 65
Page Number: 18

Household Members:

Name/Age
Isaac Sant  39
Martha Sant  48
Mary A Sant  12
George Sant  8

We're grateful to Ann for supplying this information and for permission to use it. As she herself says it gives us an opportunity to learn something of one of the families living in the Cotton Houses all those years ago. -Ed.

First published in The Middlewich Diary 5th October 2013
   Re-published 30th September 2017
   Revised and re-published 2nd October 2017
   Updated 10th October 2017

'THE VOICE' ISSUE ONE, AUTUMN 2017(EDITORIAL).

by Dave Roberts
THE VOICE
Cheshire East's new magazine for residents

We feel that it's only right that this review of Cheshire East's new initiative - The Voice - should come under the heading of an 'Editorial'.

It's something we very seldom do. In fact there has only ever been one Diary Editorial before this, and that was on the vexed question of the bypass. It was deleted soon after publication and now exists only as a file, somewhere in our archives.

But please bear in mind that the views expressed in this Diary entry are solely those of the editor.

Cheshire East Council
First of all, it has to be said that there's a lot that's worthwhile in The Voice (issue number one, Autumn 2017, out now).

Those of us who are beyond the first flush of youth will be interested in the article about the council's 'care and repair' service (page 8) which can take a lot of the hassle out of arranging household modifications such as new central heating systems, new bathrooms and kitchens and all the other things we all need to keep us safe and independent as we grow older.

There are articles about Fostering (page 12) and Adoption (page 13), getting a flu jab (page 18) and 'News Bulletin' (page 4) has a round-up of good news stories about the Borough.

'Families Matter' (page 10) brings us up to date on the services provided by the Council's children's and family centres which provide support to families throughout Cheshire East.

And there's an interesting piece about the dramatic re-construction of the trial of Alan Turing at the Courthouse Hotel in Knutsford - the very place where the original trial took place 65 years earlier when the hotel was Knutsford's courthouse (page 11).

So far so good. 

I'm sure that those of us here in Middlewich are happy to know about all these things and these pages are, perhaps, something of an antidote to the relentless negative publicity which Cheshire East, some might say with good reason, receives.

It is, unfortunately, when we start to peruse the other pages - the pages where our Borough Council attempts to 'blow its own trumpet' and tell us of achievements in various part of Cheshire East, that the wheels fall off.

I draw your attention to page 6 of The Voice and two-page spread simply entitled 'Regeneration Plans'. Here we learn that 'There's no place like Macclesfield'. They're right, of course. Macclesfield is lovely, and often under- appreciated. And - good news folks! - it's going to get even lovelier with £30m of commercial investment going into the town, along with £1.4m of 'public realm' investment by Cheshire East. What it's all about, the magazine explains, in as horrible a piece of council-speak as you'll find anywhere, is to 'boost the existing town centre offer'. Hurrah!

Down the road apiece, in sunny Crewe, we can look forward to 'a town centre to be proud of'.  Just £48.3m to you, guvnor! Well worth it, of course, and looking to the future, when Crewe becomes part of the HS2 network, worth every penny. And it's all on top of the £25m already 'invested'. It naturally follows, at least CE thinks it does, that where the council sprinkles its 'seed money', private investors eagerly follow! Hurrah again!

In Congleton things are slightly more low-key, with only £1m of public realm investment aimed at...well, just making the town look nicer, really. We all want our town to look nicer, don't we? Isn't it great that we have a Borough Council that also wants to make our towns look nicer? Good old Congleton! Hurrah!

In Middlewich....sorry. Nothing found. I'll get back to you....

You needn't think, though, that the Ancient Royal Borough of Middlewich isn't mentioned at all in this new magazine.

We're right there on page 15 as part of an article called 'Crafting A Cleaner Borough', which is mostly about people picking up litter in Crewe (the Crewe 'Clean Team', you might say).

What used to be called 'Middlewich tip' is just one of an exciting list of 'Household Waste Recycling Centres' across Cheshire East:

Middlewich: Croxton Lane, Middlewich, CW10 9EZ. Tel: 01606 837128.

So Cheshire East does think about us! Think rubbish - think Middlewich! That's the Cheshire East way!

And that's not all! We're mentioned not once, but twice in The Voice. More on that later...

Next, if you have your own copy of The Voice to hand, you might like to turn to page 16 where we find an article called, 'Flying The Green Flag'.

'Cheshire East Council's parks are some of the very best in the UK - and that's official'

We know, we know! Although this article is really about the splendours of Tatton Park and the now refurbished Victorian Queen's Park in Crewe, we can't help feeling they've missed a trick by not including the magnificent Fountain Fields in Middlewich.


Our Middlewich Diary photographer was there only yesterday to capture the beauties of Autumn at Fountain Field...

STP (MD) 91017
The glory of Fountain Fields in Autumn. This magnificent floral display at Fountain Fields is just one of the ways in which Cheshire East Council enhances our lives.


...and so on to the 'What's On' section of The Voice

Since the Middlewich Diary started in 2011, we've become  used to the idea that there are so many events happening in the town that it's difficult to keep up with them and almost impossible to list them all.

The What's On section of The Voice redresses the balance somewhat by listing just one Middlewich event between now and Christmas.

There's a list of what they call 'Tree of Lights' (which should, probably, more correctly be called 'Trees of Lights', but no matter) and it's here that we find Middlewich's second mention:

Middlewich Tuesday 5th December.

Make a note!

Are we being unfair? Of course we are!

This is, after all, the first edition of The Voice and we can hardly expect everyone to get a look in.

You'll have noticed that Middlewich is not the only town to receive what looks like short shrift from the editorial team.

Sandbach, for example, doesn't seem to get much of a look in (though their Christmas Market is featured in 'What's On').

Nor, strangely, does Nantwich (except, again, in the What's On' section).

No doubt whatever the equivalents may be of the Middlewich Diary in those towns will also be sitting up and taking notice.

As our name implies, we can only speak for this town.

And these are early days.

We look forward to future editions of The Voice in which Cheshire East tells us how many millions they intend to spend to make our town look lovelier and boost our 'town centre offer'.

They might even spend a bit of money to make Fountain Fields even more gorgeous than it is now!


One last point. The way the blue C and the green E merge together in the magazine's logo somehow looks horribly familiar...

Could it be....?


Nah! Surely not...

THE VOICE (ONLINE VERSION)

Review © Salt Town Productions 2017



Friday, 6 October 2017

THE FOURTH MIDDLEWICH MEXON MARKET



THE FOURTH

A NEW TRADING OPPORTUNITY!
(Eventbrite link)


Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council

Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council

Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council






SUPPORTING THE MIDDLEWICH MEXON MARKET....










IF YOU'RE A SUPPORTER OF THE  MEXON MARKET, SEND US YOUR DETAILS AND WE'LL ADD YOU TO THE EVER-EXPANDING LIST OF THOSE HELPING GET THIS BRILLIANT  LOCAL INITIATIVE OFF THE GROUND!

Our MD Masthead from the 6th - 21st October 2017


Published: 16th September 2017, 6th October 2017.

Monday, 2 October 2017

THE LAST DAYS OF ERF MIDDLEWICH



by Dave Roberts

When we talk about the last days of ERF Middlewich, we need to be perfectly clear that we are talking about the last days of the ERF Service Centre which opened in 1971 and closed in 2000. 
We are not talking about the make-believe 'factory' which was built at the end of Middlewich's truncated stub of a 'by-pass' at the fag end of the 1990s, and was so obviously not really intended to be a factory at all, but a warehouse. Which is precisely how it has ended up, with all its production facilities long removed. 
The last I heard that 'factory' was a distribution warehouse operated by Wincanton Logistics.
ERF has been wiped off the face of the earth and it is not for us to speculate on how and why that happened. The whole sordid story can be found in the archives of many a truck magazine and journal. (See 'A Sad Allegory' - link below)
No, we're talking about the real ERF Middlewich, built on part of what had once been the ICI alkali works halfway along a public footpath which rejoiced in the name of 'Poppityjohns'




The part leading from Brooks Lane to ERF was made into a road and christened 'Road Beta' which, as a name, is hardly much of an improvement.
And from 1971 until it all came to a juddering halt in the year 2000 ERF Service Centre was the hub of ERF's parts distribution network and also provided (at various times) vehicle repair facilities, training schools, production lines and more.
I'm writing this in the early hours of the 12th of September 2017. This is my 65th birthday, and the day on which, if things had worked out as planned, I would have been retiring from ERF. But things didn't work out as planned. They very seldom do. 
I worked at ERF Service from 1974 until it closed in 2000. By that time it was plain that the Service Centre's days were numbered and that we were all going to be moving to the new 'factory' across the railway line and a couple of fields away from where we'd been working for all those years. 
(The word factory is in inverted commas, like so much concerning the end of ERF in this diary entry because so many of us remember the feeling we had at the time that the wool was being pulled over our eyes and all was not as it seemed.)
The problem was that ERF stores wouldn't be moving to 'ERF Way' as the spur road off the 'bypass' had optimistically and, as it turned out, unfortunately, been named.
We'd heard tales of some autocratic ERF 'exec' spotting the words 'Parts Distribution' on the plans for the new site and abruptly drawing a line through them. 
Whatever jobs we were all going to do at the 'new place', they were not going to involve spare parts.
Like all management, then and now, the management of ERF considered everyone who worked for the company (particularly at our lowly level) to be mere units and completely interchangeable.
This attitude was what put an end to my 'career' with the company on my first day at the 'new place'. But that's another story.

Before ERF Service passed into history I took a few photographs, mainly to capture for posterity some of the people who worked there and the place where we all spent our working lives. I fully realise that they will be of little interest to most people who never worked there, and quite a few people who did. 
But these photographs, mundane and workaday as they might be, are at least a record of a Middlewich workplace which has vanished never to return, and of just a few of the people who worked there at the time.
The photographs aren't in any particular order, and don't try to tell a story. 
But they do, I hope, give a flavour of ERF Middlewich seventeen years ago. What better way to spend the day I should have retired than looking back at days which have, like, I'm sorry to say, a couple of the people pictured here, gone forever.

That white box on stilts was the Goods Inwards (or Goods Receiving) office and underneath was Steve Farrington's domain. Steve was responsible for unloading, unpacking and checking deliveries. He'd then pass the advice notes to myself and Mr J.S. Davenport in our eyrie at the top of the stairs.


Steve's domain. Note on the left hand side of the bench the computer which I can't recall Steve himself ever using. Like most 'shop floor' people at ERF he regarded computers as the devil's work, and made a lot more use of the broom seen on the extreme left.


A general view of the Goods Inwards office at the top of those stairs. The eagle-eyed observer will notice a portent of the future, in the form of the logo affixed to the computer screen in the foreground. A future which was, unfortunately, to be very short-lived. 
Note the printers by the window. These were used for printing 'Goods Inwards Notes' (or 'GIN' notes) telling people which location in the stores to take spare parts to. Occasionally these printers were  clandestinely used for printing posters etc for the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival. You had to be very very sure which printer you were sending your illegal poster to, though. If you'd made a mistake and sent it to, say, the printer in the parts manager's office, the consequences don't bear thinking about...


Here's a rare photo of your Middlewich Diary editor in uniform making a very important telephone call (probably concerning the Folk & Boat Festival). The fact that
the stores are in darkness (as evidenced by the windows) tells us that this was probably taken on one of those Friday nights when we'd spend hours waiting for spares to reach us via the M6 which, then as now, was the most accident-prone motorway in the country.


Something of a rarity - in fact unique in my experience - a lady storekeeper. Her name was June, and if I ever knew her second name, I've forgotten it.
Update: Our old friend 'Anon' has put forward the name 'Proudlove' as June's second name.



Also brightening the place up somewhat was Theresa, an agency worker brought in to help out with our 'heavy workload'.


So little time...so much to do....just a tiny fraction of our 'heavy workload'. Note that someone appears to have dumped the telephone on one of the paper trays, possibly through sheer frustration after being 'mithered' once too often by material control at Sandbach.


Here's Theresa again, this time with the late Harry Bayley.



Andy Newall, once described by one of the foremen as 'doing the work of ten men'.
The foreman was Andy's brother-in-law, mind you...



 Andy Newall again, this time with Herbert Hampton, a distant relation of the author, 
and thus dubbed 'Cousin Herbert'.




David 'Brisket' Briscall. Note, in the background, the whiteboard with the words 'ERF SERVICE 1971-2000' written on it. 



Even a clapped-out old whiteboard has a tale to tell
                                                       That tale is told  here.



The 'high-racking stores', invariably referred to as the 'new stores' due to the fact that they were built later than - you've guessed it - the old stores. Special guided trucks operated here, very much on the same principle as guided buses and it was possible, when using 'lift trucks' (from one of which this photo was taken) to climb right into the roof of the building. An ideal method of getting out of the way and hiding from the foreman for a while.


The late, and still very much missed, Steve Farrington. At work...


...and at play, in the White Horse one Saturday lunchtime in the 1990s. That's Steve's brother Peter on the right.
Steve was a true friend and, as I've said, we all still miss him after his untimely death a few years ago at the comparatively early age of 61.



It's That Man Again! Here's Steve, pictured in October 1997, on the phone to someone or other (most probably material control) sorting out just one of the endless series of problems which beset us every day of our working lives. Apologies for the damage to this print.                                                         (Photo added 3rd October 2017)


Mr Mark Wayne Brett Nevitt, storeman extraordinaire. Now working for Network Rail as a signalman.


The 'square'. The area where goods were unpacked and checked ready to be placed in the stores. Mr Nevitt, ever eager to be photographed for posterity, adopts his 'I'm getting some work done, honestly Terry!' pose.


This dark and almost completely useless photo is included because it is the only known photograph of Mr John Stuart Davenport (in the background with red hair and blue shirt). We never were able to get a photograph of his face (which, some would say, was just as well). This photo was taken in the old, ground-floor Goods Inwards office (one of several we had over the years) which was very vulnerable to the attentions of fork-lift drivers who spent a lot of their time bending its tin walls, the chief exponent of this practice being Cousin Herbert Hampton, who also liked to bend the metal shutter doors of the stores about twice a week.



The somewhat unprepossessing main entrance to the ERF Service Centre. The office block shown here no longer exists (although the main buildings are still in use). The single story building on the left was, in the 1970s, the works canteen. In the 1980s, in the days of mainframe computers, it became the 'Computer Room' where huge spools of magnetic tape whizzed to and fro and little lights blinked on and off in the approved manner.


..and here's one of the terminals that mainframe computer would have been connected to. A CRT monitor with the then standard green-on-black screen and the letters ERF made up of smaller characters, something we all thought pretty impressive at the time. This was not even our first computer system. The earlier one, introduced at the very start of the 1980s, was in just plain black and white and the terminals had valves in them, just like your old-fashioned TV set and had to be 'warmed-up' each morning. Later, like everyone else, we moved to desktop PCs. An interesting piece of ERF ephemera the like of which you'll never find in any museum of the British motor industry.



A general view of part of the ERF Service stores. The 'square' is in the foreground, with the 'high racking' stores beyond.


A group of storemen (or, to use the more correct term 'storekeepers') at the end of the high-racking stores in 2000. The gent with the white shirt on the left is John
(or Jon?) Owen, a larger-than-life character from Birmingham, inevitably nicknamed 'Brummie'.

As the time drew near for the move from Brooks Lane to the new, pretend 'factory' the company began transferring equipment to 'ERF Way'. Here local firm Paces of Arclid loads fork-lift trucks in the yard, ready for the short trip 'up the road'.



Moving out. Off down Brooks Lane to Kinderton Street and then to ERF's brand new promised land in a field near the sewage works.



Poster produced  by ERF inspector Frank McPhillips, one of the first people
to have his own personal computer at home

To ERF Management, of course, the closure of the ERF Service Centre was of little consequence, or interest. The parts operation was contracted out to a firm with facilities in Burton-on-Trent, and we were all given the great honour of teaching some of the new company's staff how to do our jobs so that we could be 'phased out' and given completely unsuitable jobs on the 'production line' at ERF Way. 
Although it may not have mattered a jot to the powers-that-be, some of us thought that the passing of the Service Centre deserved at least a little respect and ought to be marked in some way.
Accordingly, storeman John Smith, who had been staging Sixties Revival Nights at Northwich Memorial Hall, got everyone together for a social evening at the Pochin's Club just at the end of Road Beta (the building, formerly the ICI Club, is now home to Middlewich Community Church).

The former ICI/Pochin's Club in Brooks Lane, Middlewich, where we all gathered in October 2000 to commemorate the end of nearly thirty years of the ERF Service Centre.

I recall making a short speech in which I said something along the lines of, 'the management may not care about ERF Middlewich, but we do. We've all worked together for so many years, and we think it's only right that we celebrate the fact.' Words to that effect, anyway.

The Salt Town Poets sang a song I wrote specially for the occasion, The Storekeeper, and there wasn't a wet eye in the house.

The words of this  little ditty, telling the story of my working life at ERF and the closure of the Service Centre, are featured below:

THE STOREKEEPER
(Tune: The Wild Rover)

1: I've been a storekeeper for many a year,
And I've spent hours and hours wishing I wasn't here,
Booking in all the parts for your ERF truck;
But now I'm disheartened, and...don't really care....

Chorus:

And it's no, nay never,
No nay never, no more,
Will I play the storekeeper...
No never, no more.

2: I've booked in your gearboxes, propshafts and things
Such as nuts, bolts and washers and fuel tanks and springs,
And pins, flanges, screws, hinges, spacers galore,
But I never will play the storekeeper no more.

Chorus

3: And now things are changing, our time here is spent,
They're shifting the whole lot to Burton-On-Trent,
Where things will be perfect, all sweetness and light;
And if you believe that, you'll believe..almost anything...

Chorus

4: Rip up all your picking notes, burn all your GINs,
A new day has dawned, a new era begins;
And it's quite plain to see, as they show us the door,
They don't want us to play the storekeeper no more.

Chorus

5: And if you should wonder why we've gone to hell,
The answer is ringing out, clear as a bell,
But we'll try not to worry, we're sure we'll be fine,
You can stick your spare parts where the sun doesn't shine.

Chorus

6: Farewell to the old stores, farewell to the new,
Farewell to Goods Inwards and Goods Despatch too;
Now God alone knows what these years have been for,
But we never will play the storekeeper no more.

Final chorus

© Salt Town Productions 2000/2017

Notes:

Verse 1: Most of my working life at ERF Middlewich was spent 'booking in' parts, at first by hand on notes later sent in batches to an IT firm in Manchester which compiled weekly print-outs of stock figures. These print-outs were always wildly out-of-date, of course. From the early 1980s I did the same job using a succession of computers.

Verse 3: A logistics firm was brought in to examine our parts distribution network, and concluded that it should be 'outsourced' to a firm operating from Burton-On-Trent, giving greater efficiency and effectiveness. We were, as you can gather, sceptical about this, with every justification as it turned out.

Verse 4: A 'picking note' is probably self-explanatory. It was a list of parts required by a customer with the stores location of each one on it. A storekeeper (usually a member of the legendary 'White Stick Gang') would 'pick' the parts from these notes and take them to the despatch dept. A 'GIN' was a Goods Inwards Note, used to put incoming parts into their correct locations. Well, most of the time...

Verse 5: The gentleman who masterminded the transferring of the parts stores from Middlewich to Burton-On-Trent was a Mr George Bell. An alternative location for those parts is also suggested here...

The song went down a storm. So much so that we had to sing it twice.

A memorable evening and, as Dave Lewis said on the night, 'only right and fitting'.


This door, at the side of the old ERF Middlewich office block was the one I used when I left ERF Service for good in the winter of 2000. Again, this was only right and fitting, because it was by this same door that I first entered the place back in 1974 for the interview with Bill McArdle which led to my working there for 27 years.

By contrast, my working life at the 'new place' lasted less than one day.

I'll never forget my time at ERF. I made some good friends and, of course, one or two enemies.

We all knew deep down that we were on the way out and that we were living through the last days of the independent British truck industry. 

And I think that, despite everything, most of us were proud to be a part of an industry which 'flew the flag' for Britain right to the bitter end.

Photo: Commercial Motor

This diary entry will be added to from time to time, as more photographs come to light.

If you have any which you think may be of interest, please don't hesitate to send them to us.

Dave Roberts
Middlewich
12th September 2017




UPDATES



Promises Promises...Here's a piece of ERF ephemera from the days when 35mm slides were the norm for presentations, rather than the now ubiquitous digital projectors attached to laptops. Most probably dating from the early 1990s, it's obviously just one of a series of slides shown to people from the parts distribution network to chivvy them up and get them passionate about selling diffs, gearboxes, propshafts and a myriad other spares, including everyone's favourite,the time-honoured 'No 10 pins' (said to be a remnant of the first ever parts list for ERF 1 in which the parts were simply numbered 1,2,3,4 etc. Part no 10 being a shackle pin for a road spring). Like all the best Middlewich Diary ephemera, this slide was rescued from a skip.
ERF 1          Photo: Truckphotos
(15th September 2017)

(From Christine Foster)
(l to r) CHRISTINE FOSTER, ? , ANN ADDY, EVELYN MALAM, SUSAN MITCHELL
Photo taken outside the ERF Service Service Centre office block, early 70s.
(Expanded caption coming soon)
15th September 2017





SEE ALSO:  
                                                  STRANGE VISITOR
                                                        ERF BADGES
                                                        ERF SERVICE 1971-2000 (revised Sept. 2017)
                                                  EVERYTHING STARTS WITH AN 'E' (1990)
                                       

First published 12th September 2017
Updated 15th September 2017
19th September 2017, 3rd October 2017.