Sunday, 18 June 2017


This photo first appeared on Facebook, not as part of the regular 'Middlewich' series, but on Father's Day 2011 as a tribute to my Dad, Arthur Roberts, who was a foreman electrician at Cerebos Salt Ltd (later to become part of RHM Foods) from the late 30s until his retirement through ill health around 1969. Dad is pictured here in the generator room at Cerebos in (we think) the late 40s/early 50s. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the generator plant and its controls and, when he had to retire, was retained as a consultant and driven up to the works at weekends by Percy Wrench in the works van to check that everything was OK. The Cerebos generating plant was very efficient for its day, as the steam used to run the generators was not released into the atmosphere but recycled to provide heating and hot water for the whole factory, as well as for a very unusual salt pan which can best be described as a giant 'electric kettle'. The steam heated a giant element in the pan which, unlike the coal fired pans at Seddons and Murgatroyds, could be kept going for days and weeks on end, making it far more productive than most salt pans.  A lot of the power produced, went to run the vacuum salt plant, fore-runner of the one now in use at British Salt which produces the greater part  of the country's salt requirements.
Salt plants and electrical generators are, of course, run with the help of computers these days, but in Dad's day, all the knowledge was, literally, in his head. He taught himself electrical engineering in his spare time by correspondence course.

see also QUEEN MUM

First published July 11th 2011
Republished June 15th (Fathers Day) 2014
Republished June 19th (Fathers Day) 2016
Republished June 18th (Fathers Day) 2017

Saturday, 17 June 2017


Tools used in the production of open pan and cut-lump salt
This photograph from the 2011 FAB Festival illustrates another important aspect of our town's most hectic and exhilarating weekend.
From its earliest beginnings in 1990 the festival was seen not only as an important musical event and celebration of Middlewich's canal heritage but also as an opportunity to showcase the town's long and hitherto rather neglected history as one of the famous 'Cheshire Wiches'.
There can't be many British schoolchildren who weren't taught about Nantwich, Middlewich and Northwich and their tradition of salt-making stretching back to a time even before the Roman invasion, so that almost everyone would have heard of our town, even if many of them probably couldn't have told you exactly where it was.
Every year now, thanks to the sterling efforts of  Middlewich Town Council's Heritage Officer, Kerry Fletcher, and the work put in by many volunteers, including members of the Middlewich Heritage Society, the history of Middlewich is displayed and interpreted for the benefit of both townspeople and visitors.

Modern day Bisto Kids pose in front of the mural rescued from RHM Foods when the factory closed in 2009. See this diary entry.

Festival visitors on the Narrowboat Sweden, formerly one of the fleet of boats used by Henry Seddon & Sons to bring in coal and export salt from their Wych House Lane and Pepper Street works along the Trent & Mersey Canal (the Wych House Lane works was situated  to the right of the boat on what is now known as the 'Salinae Field'. Part of the field can be seen above the boat's engine compartment.).
Sadly, since this photograph was taken, Sweden has been repainted in a livery representing a different period of her long life.

With the Town Bridge in the right background, Cliff's photo shows the scene at Town Wharf a few years ago (one of the wharf buildings is on the extreme left). The wharf and the immediately adjacent Salinae Field are really the point where the 'Folk & Boat' parts of the festival come together; concerts are staged on boats moored by the wharf and stalls and exhibition stands help tell the Middlewich story to Folkies and Boaties alike.
When the 'Gateway To Middlewich' scheme comes to fruition  this part of town will have become even more attractive and welcoming, not only at festival time but also throughout the rest of the year.
(Editor's note: We're still waiting! That line was from the original 2013 edition of this diary entry and in 2015 little has changed as far  as the wharf is concerned.)

...and just in case anyone might have forgotten how it all started back in 1990 here are the legendary MIDDLEWICH PADDIES who have appeared at all 25 Festivals through the years.
On the left is Graham Sivills, centre is Richard Devaney, the man who thought up the idea in the first place, and on the right, Dave Thompson, formerly Folk & Boat Festival Artistic Director and now running the FAB Festival on behalf of the Town Council as Events Manager.

Diary entry originally published 12th June 2013 under the title

Many thanks to CLIFF ASTLES for permission to use these photographs.

First published 12th June 2013
Re-published 7th June 2014
10th June 2015
17th June 2017

Wednesday, 7 June 2017


This all too short video appeared recently on the Middlewich Community Group on Facebook. It shows some stunning shots of the Parish Church, the Trent & Mersey Canal and the British Salt Works in Booth Lane.
Familiar elements which make Middlewich the town it is today, but shown from a new angle thanks to new 'drone' technology.
We're hoping that a longer version will be forthcoming soon.

Many thanks to HENRY COLE for permission to use his work.

You can view the video here.


(Middlewich Community Group Link)

Thursday, 25 May 2017



10am - 3pm

It's farewell to the Makers market
after five years in Middlewich.

The Makers Market writes...

This Saturday 27th of May we have the final Middlewich Makers Market showcasing a fabulous selection of food, drink, art, design and street food. We are delighted to be joined by the Annual Middlewich Town Crier competition, from 11am, where Town Criers from across the country will battle it out to be crowned champ. There will also be a junior championship in the afternoon, so get your vocal cords ready kids.
Join us this Saturday for a lovely day in Middlewich. Here is our talented stall holder lineup-
Angel and The Bee
Hey Presto
Truly A Sweets
Flank & Hock
Ghin Kow
V & S Home Decor
Marts craft beer
L G Art
Shams Asian Foods
Petes Wood
Indigo Upholstery
Middlewich Butcher
Bebi G's Bakery
Bridge Park Candle Co
Cheshire cheesecakes
Greek Kitchen
Flying Teaspoons
Just Waffle
Born on the Waves
Paws and Hounds
Elle Bee Creations
Cheshire pie
Israeli Food
Pudding and Pie
Coffee Food and Wine
Cheshire Cheese Company
Pop corn
Cheshire Roasts
Middlewich Makers Market, 10-3pm, Wheelock Street, CW10 9AB

Middlewich FAB Festival writes...
Heading down to the The Makers Market this Saturday? Keep an eye out forHero RenewablesFacebook Live Giveaway of 2 VIP Tickets to this year’s FAB Festival! All you have to do is find the secret location, pull the #FABFEST pose and you’ll be off to see the Ian Broudie and the Lightning Seeds and more amazing live music. #BETHERE#BEFAB


Aiden J Devaney, award-winning butcher of Wheelock Street, has supported the Makers Market, and the Artisan Market before it, ever since the beginning.

Willow Bell writes...
It's a beautiful day for Middlewich Makers Market today 🌞😎
As well as our beautiful hand decaled Staffordshire Fine Bone China, we're stocked up on The Thomas-Coles Room Defusers and Shower Steamers also Naked Candle Co Candles and Room Defusers.
We are your Artisan Shop on the High Street

We're also outside again 🤗

Pop down and say hello 👋
We have fabulous gifts 🎁
Come and have a look 👀

The final market coincides with this great  Middlewich event...

Middlewich Town Council
Courtesy of DEVLIN HOBSON, Middlewich Town Crier

Published 8th January
28th January
25th February
25th March
29th April
and 27th May 2017

Editor's Note:
Although the Makers Market of 27th May was the last, all is not lost. The principle of closing Wheelock Street to traffic once a month has become well established over the years, and it is easy to envisage that some kind of monthly market will be able to continue here, either as part of another market 'chain' or as an independent local market, possibly run 'in house' by the Town Council, giving that body much more scope and control over the number and type of traders at each market. Whatever happens, we wish Middlewich's monthly market the very best for the future. DGR


I take my place on the cold platform
'Tis nothing new, it's quite the norm.
Facing South, I watch and wait;
Should've been here by half past eight.

I stand and wait to see my boy.
When he arrives I'll jump for joy.
They let him out at dawn today
For misdemeanours he did pay.

The stationmaster locks his door,
This starry night he'll work no more.
Bids me goodnight, it's oh so late,
Says, 'when you go, please close the gate'.

'I will, kind sir, see you tomorrow',
He looks at me with such deep sorrow,
For he'll be back same time next night.
A slow train stops. No one alights.

A fast train roars through without a hitch.
For trains stop no more at Middlewich.
The station-master, he's mine host
But, alas, like me, also a ghost...

© Trevor Burton

Lewis Battersby, Middlewich Stationmaster 1920
Photo: David Broughton
This atmospheric poem was written by author Trevor Burton, who lives in Manchester and is better known for his detective fiction.

 Here's a link to his blog, containing  further links to his novels, which are available through Amazon.

Trevor Burton, Author