|Based on newspaper cuttings collected by the late Albert Robinson|
by Dave Roberts
1968 ended portentously. Just before Christmas the dreaded 'yellow peril' hit Middlewich, as the County Council introduced 'No Waiting' restrictions in Wheelock Street. This was expected to help solve the town's horrendous traffic problems.
In many ways the end of the sixties was the end of an era for Middlewich. The old method of making salt had died out, but British Salt were expected to have their £3 million factory open in the Autumn.
Other great schemes were also in the offing in 1969, all of which are now taken for granted (or were in 1990 - ed)
August was to see the start of the new inner by-pass (St Michael's Way), expected to cost £220,000
April would see the completion of the Civic Hall, built by the UDC for the princely sum of £30,000 (the cost later 'rocketed' to £40,000).
The County Council also planned to build a new fire station, and the GPO were to introduce an automatic telephone exchange.
In February the news broke that the 'Sandbach Motor Engineering Firm', ERF Limited, had applied for planning permission for a spares and service depot on part of the disused ICI soda ash works site. ERF promised to build the depot on the understanding that the Council would improve Brooks Lane to provide a proper access road.
Middlewich Council were advertising for part-time cleaners at Chadwick Court. The successful applicants would work a ten hour week for 4s 9d an hour. General labourers in the Council's Parks & Open Spaces Department were paid £14 5s 10d per week, in accordance with the NJC for Local Authorities Services.
Also in 1969 the town's Crown Post Office closed and the sub post office which replaced it began its nomadic wanderings around the town. The first sub postmistress was Mrs Beryl Lees who ran the Central Warehouse at 29 Wheelock Street.
In June the wonders of modern technology came to the town, and Middlewich's telephone subscribers (800 in all) were linked up to the S.T.D. equipment in the new automatic exchange. The first call was made by the Chairman of the Council, Mr Wilfrid Faulkner.
In July the subject of local government re-organisation was in the air. The Maud Report was proposing a 'Super Council' covering Sale and East Cheshire on which Middlewich would have had only one representative (in 1970 Middlewich Councillors were to hold discussions with Northwich and Winsford Councillors on the idea of a Mid-Cheshire Authority. A second-best plan including Knutsford was also considered.
On Friday 12th September the new Civic Hall was opened by Council Chairman Wilfrid Faulkner.
You could hire the hall for an evening for £10 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, £12 on Wednesday and £15 on Friday and Saturday. There was dancing on the opening night to 'The Ray Douglas Music'.
Middlewich was about to move forward into the 1970s...
© Dave Roberts/Salt Town Productions 2011
Also in 1969 a young Mr David Gareth Roberts left school and, after an excruciatingly embarrassing and unsuccessful interview at the NatWest Bank, began work at the MUDC's Rates Office.
September the 12th, the day of the Civic Hall's opening, was my 17th birthday. I'm sure I remember the legendary Percy Bailey Band playing in the hall in the afternoon, but I can find no confirmation of this. -DGR