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Thursday, 8 September 2011

NOW and THEN: LAWRENCE AVENUE


Forty two years separate these two photographs of Lawrence Avenue and yet the street, or the western end of it at any rate, seems remarkably unaltered. The bollards preventing traffic entering at the Wheelock Street end have gone - a necessity, of course, once St Michael's Way was built, bisecting the Avenue. There was  no attempt to provide access from  the new dual carriageway, so Wheelock Street was then and is now the only way into Lawrence Avenue West.
Notice, in the 1969 picture, the small  building with chimney to the right. This looks for all the world like the small building on Town wharf which can be see here, and which disappeared just a few years ago (...'the little building with the chimney on the left disappeared a few years ago...'). If you saw an earlier version of this posting, you'll have realised that I've changed my mind about this building. At first I thought it had disappeared from the 2011 view and been replaced by a similar small building further away from the rear of the St Luke's Hospice Shop. I now  think that both pictures show the same building but that it's  lost its chimney sometime in the last forty-two years (the difference in perspective being caused by a slight difference in the camera angles). I'm wondering if both this and the Town Wharf building were wash-houses?
But the striking thing about the two pictures is their similarity. Even the old fashioned street lamp seems to have survived the passage of time.
It's only when we look into the distance, to the background of the two pictures, that the difference becomes apparent. The large white building, along with several others, has been swept away to make room for the dual carriageway. It would have been in this now lost area that the Lawrence family lived and where CFL made his Neolithic discoveries. Could it be that 'Lawrence Gardens' was, in fact, a side road leading from Lawrence Avenue and that the name was lost when the area was cleared to make way for the dual carriageway? Possibly, by custom and practice, the whole area, Avenue and Gardens, was called 'Lawrence Gardens' by locals. It's one theory, at any rate. What we need, of course, is a Middlewich street map pre-dating the building of St Michael's Way in the early 1970s. The internet has yielded nothing so far, but I'm wondering if anyone has such a map somewhere? Incidentally, the 1909 fold-out map included in Alan Earl's Middlewich 1900-1950 shows the area as largely covered in trees. An orchard, perhaps? But the words 'Lawrence Gardens' do not appear. And, although we know that Lawrence made his Neolithic discoveries in this area, we don't know when. It must, however, have been before 1905 when his Bygone Middlewich was published. 

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