Tuesday, 5 July 2011

CONSTRUCTION OF ST MICHAEL'S WAY 1972

As we've deduced from our studies of these old Instamatic slides, the building of St Michael's Way (the 'Middlewich Inner Relief Road') and the demolition and redevelopment work in Kinderton Street were actually two separate and distinct projects, separated in time by a couple of years (and physically by the Town Bridge, of course). And, as Geraldine Williams has pointed out, Kinderton Street was not actually 'widened' to any great extent, and neither was the Town Bridge, so it was perfectly feasible by 1972 for St Michael's Way to be built and to be feeding traffic towards Holmes Chapel,the motorway and King Street via the original Kinderton Street formation, which must have dated back to 1931 when the current Town Bridge was built. In the case of traffic heading onto King Street, part of the redevelopment of Kinderton Street was aimed at improving its junction with Kinderton Street, meaning the loss of that wonderful old farmhouse.
And it also should be remembered that the traffic using the new relief road was not 'new' traffic, but traffic which would formerly have used Wheelock Street to get through the town, so there wouldn't have been significant 'extra' traffic. Not then, that is. The country's road traffic nightmare hadn't fully begun in 1972.
There were (and are) those who  resented the coming of the new road, and it was rather startling to see the way it carved its way through the old town, but it has meant that Wheelock Street has survived in very much its original form, and  we never suffered the same indignity as nearby Winsford where half the High Street was knocked down to accomodate that unfortunate town's 'relief road'.
Our present slide was taken in 1972 and shows St Michael's Way under construction. Out of shot to the left is Pepper Street (or what's left of it). The low brick building with the white weather boarding is Middlewich Telephone Exchange which, having started life mooning away unseen and unregarded in its own little compound off Pepper Street, suddenly found itself thrust into the limelight and standing alongside a major road. The intervening years have seen it blossom and more than double in size, sprouting all kinds of mobile phone aerials and the like on the way. Now we're promised fibre optic broadband, which can't come too soon. To the right of the telephone exchange is Powell's sewing factory (now the site of a block of flats and the ubiquitous town houses, connecting St Michael's Way with Wheelock Street.
As this new road emerges into the sunlight and with it the start of the new, post-industrial Middlewich we know today, we can see on the skyline a reminder of the older Middlewich in the form of  Seddon's salt works chimneys in Brooks Lane (to the left of the Church in this photo) still there, but soon to be no more.
Finally, a nice subtitle for this slide would be 'Me and My Shadow'. In the bottom left hand corner is the shadow of the then 20 year old Mr Roberts in the act of snapping the scene for posterity.

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