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Thursday, 18 August 2011

TOWN WHARF WAREHOUSE and OLD FIRE STATION 1970


This Agfacolor slide, taken in 1970, shows the entrance to the council depot which was established on land once occupied by Seddon's works in Wych House Lane. To the left is the British Waterways warehouse which is part of the Town Wharf group of buildings. It's interesting to note that one end of the building, at least wasn't whitewashed at this time. The blue gates to the right of the warehouse form the actual entrance to the council yard and were, at one time, sign-written with MIDDLEWICH U.D.C. DEPOT in red and black shaded lettering,
The building on the right, unfortunately plunged into shadow in this shot, is Middlewich's first fire station which dates back to around 1893. You can probably just make out the words FIRE STATION in the terracotta work above the entrance. Surrounding this are the letters L M B which indicate that the building had been provided by the Middlewich Local Board. Attempts were made to save the inscription when the building was demolished, but failed*. This building was replaced by a fire station in Lewin Street, on the site where the 'floral clock' is now, and then the present 'Community Fire Station' (aren't all fire stations 'community fire stations'?) a short distance away at the top of Civic Way.
*or did they? See comments, below.
(UPDATE: In the November/December 1991 edition of the MHS Newsletter ex-fireman Bill Ward says, in an article about Middlewich's fire stations: 'It is thought...that the terra-cotta work from the front of the building proclaiming M-L-B FIRE STATION 1894 was saved and taken to Sandbach'
This seems to bear out what Dan Kelly says in his comments below. The confusion arose because there had been an attempt to save the whole building from destruction so that it could serve as 'the nucleus for a heritage exhibition' but the Borough Council had it demolished during the negotiations. This is the conservation attempt that 'failed', not the retention of the terra cotta work which, it now seems fairly certain, still exists somewhere -ed)
There's a better photograph of this building on page 32 of Profiles of Middlewich by Alan Earl (CC Publishing 2006)
UPDATE (DECEMBER 2011): We have heard from Peter Cox that, as far as he knows, this terra cotta work is actually currently stored at Middlewich Fire Station.
UPDATE (AUGUST 2016): That's precisely where it is. I have now seen it with my own eyes - ed.

5 comments:

  1. My (perhaps imperfect) memory tells me that the sign from the original fire station did survive. I think it was stored in the garage that housed CBC's mayor's car at Westfields. It was certainly there in the mid 90's

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  2. Really? That's great news. My own memory is definitely imperfect. That's why I value comments such as yours so much. I wonder if it's still there?

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  3. I wonder if one of our Cheshire East councillors could investigage? As I said, it was definitely there (1994 I think) when Andy Mather was Borough Mayor as I was stood outside the open garage with Andy and Mayor's chauffeur, Gerry, who pointed the sign out to us.

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  4. That would make sense. On the mount of another slide(unfortunately much too dark to be used here) I have written the words 'Built 1894(?), replaced 1939 (by the fire station in Lewin Street), demolished 1991.'

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  5. We're pleased to say that the terra cotta work in question has been sighted again,, more recently and closer to home. At Middlewich Fire Station, in fact. More news on this soon -Ed

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