Saturday, 31 December 2011

CHESHIRE LIFE PHOTO COMPETITION

Cliff Astles
Cliff Astles writes:
The photos above  have been selected for a Cheshire Life article to encourage  readers to submit their own 2012 photos to the magazine's on-line readers' photo gallery. My own photo is at top right.
There are a number of categories for you to enter your photo into, with quality prizes for local and UK wide competition winners.......................so check it out !!!

With today's quality digital camera it is now fairly easy to capture that 'special photo'.
Make sure you sign up today to the on-Line Cheshire Life Magazine and show off your own photographic work, and have the chance to win.

You only WIN, if you ENTER!



CHESHIRE LIFE ONLINE

Friday, 30 December 2011

RIVER WHEELOCK FROM THE MIDDLEWICH BRANCH CANAL EARLY 1970s

Here's a nice colour shot by Jack Stanier to cheer us all up during the cold winter days.
Taken on a Summer day in the early 1970s, it shows the River Wheelock meandering its way from the aqueduct which takes it under the Shropshire Union Middlewich Branch and flowing on alongside Nantwich Road, later to run under a bridge in Chester Road just outside the town and borough boundaries, on its  way to join the River Dane near the narrow canal aqueduct not far from Croxton Lane.
The combined rivers then flow on another five miles or so to join the River Weaver at Northwich.
The Chester Road bridge, by the way, was rebuilt a few years ago and made perfectly level, so that many people will not even realise they are crossing the River Wheelock as they drive in and out of Middlewich.
In the middle distance can be seen the little bridge which takes Mill Lane across the river on its way to Stanthorne. The whole footpath from Nantwich Road to Stanthorne is, by the way, a public right of way, although the owners of Stanthorne Mill (the white buildings seen to the left of the photograph) always made a point of disputing this in former days.
Close to this bridge is a weir which you can see here in a black and white photograph taken around the same time, or possibly a little earlier. The weir is very difficult to photograph these days, so overgrown has it become - a point we were making here, when we were looking back at the general area as it was in 1967.
In fact a quick glance at Google Earth will show that the whole course of the river, certainly between Nantwich Road and Chester Road, has become completely engulfed in trees, making it very difficult to follow.
I originally thought that this was a recent phenomenon but, in fact, as a glance at page 52 of Allan Earl's Middlewich 1900-1950 (Cheshire Country Publishing 1994) will show, these trees have been here for many years and were at one time being cultivated by Boosey's Nurseries until the First World War intervened and they were left to run wild
The village of Wheelock, by the way, was named after the river and Middlewich's main street was named after the village.

To see the aqueduct this picture was taken from go to SUC AQUEDUCT OVER THE RIVER WHEELOCK 2012

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

MIDDLEWICH CARNIVAL 1952: ST ANN'S AVENUE

© Phillip Shales 2011     All rights reserved
with acknowledgments to Kerry Fletcher and Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council
by Dave Roberts
The interesting thing about this photograph from the Phillip Shales collection and found in a file marked '1949 Carnival' is its location.
When we were looking at the Queen of what turned out to be the 1952 Carnival in this photo, I wondered if the two girls in the car were the same train bearers from that earlier photo, although even I had a vague feeling that 'the dresses were different'.
Chris Koons soon put me right: 'Different dresses and head dresses, and the girls in the second photo are at least six or seven years younger than the girls in the first photo'.
So that told me.
But it's those houses in the background which intrigued me. They looked familiar, and yet I couldn't work out the location. 
Again Chris Koons came to the rescue: 'My Dad, David Sant, recalls that the field behind his house in St Ann's Avenue used to be used for Carnival events, too. 
Looking at the present-day St Ann's Avenue on Google Earth I would say this matches exactly. It looks to have been taken from approximately where Wardle Mews is now'.
Daniel Preston agreed: 'I would say that the houses in the background are in St Ann's Avenue. We used to call that field Back Field.
(As a digression, Daniel went on to talk about the anomaly which still exists today at both ends of St Ann's Avenue: "The street sign attached to the first house on either side says 'ST ANN'S AVENUE', while the  sign at the bottom of the road says 'ST ANNE'S AVENUE'"
Daniel wonders if this is similar to the Lawrence Gardens/Lawrence Avenue anomaly, but I've always put it down to a simple administrative error by whichever council was responsible and that it's never been put right because of the perceived ' who cares -any old thing will do for Middlewich' attitude.
The correct spelling is ST ANN's without the E, as in St Ann's Road).
Susan Nugent agreed that the houses shown in our photo are in St Ann's Avenue: 'My Nan and Grandad lived at no 1 '.
And Dawn Hunter had good reason to remember living in the area: 'My Mum and Dad and I lived at number 36 from the time I was three years old. When I was five I got knocked down on Kings Lock bridge by a Rolls Royce.'
Robert Sheckleston also confirmed  the location: 'Yes, that's Back Field, at the rear of St Ann's Avenue. When I lived  in Kitfield Avenue I played football on the Back Field many times.'
Margaret Williams, who came up with the correct information and dates for the first photo - of the Queen and her retinue in the Bullring - says, '(the newspaper report) has no reference regarding the two young girls in the car, but if the procession started at Back Field, maybe they were a party from a nearby town and were waiting to join the procession.'
Geraldine Williams added: 'There seems to be a lot of hanging about going on in this latest picture, and it looks as though there's a boys' band of some sort, as well as the attendants in the car. Everyone else is in Middlewich drab (coats and headscarves), as they are in the Bullring photograph, so it mustn't have been a typical July day. The Carnival Queen and her retinue seem to have travelled on a float. I think it's the same event (i.e. the 1952 Carnival - Ed) as the newspaper states that the procession set off from the Avenues but it must have been a circuitous route down St Ann's Road for the procession to come down Wheelock Street and then up to Station Field (aka ICI Field - Ed)'
So in conclusion, this would appear to be a photograph taken on the 26th July 1952 at Back Field, behind St Ann's Avenue, as the Carnival procession was getting ready to  take to the streets of Middlewich, and most probably shows two girls from a neighbouring town.
Incidentally, Wardle Lock Cottage would be somewhere behind the camera, standing in splendid isolation many years before being surrounded by the modern housing of Wardle Mews and Waters Edge Mews
Speaking personally, I'm tickled to death that we now have the actual date of both this and the 'Queen' photograph, because it shows us Middlewich as it was when I was born just two months later in September 1952. 







Tuesday, 27 December 2011

MIDDLEWICH CARNIVAL, 16th JULY 1952: THE ARRIVAL OF THE CARNIVAL QUEEN

© Phillip Shales 2011     All rights reserved
with acknowledgments to Kerry Fletcher and Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council





by Dave Roberts

Note: This photograph was found in a file marked 1949 Carnival on a computer at Middlewich Town Council, and was originally published with that date. Subsequent information contributed by Middlewich Diary readers has enabled us to establish not only the correct year but also the actual date of the photograph and the name of the Carnival Queen and her escort.
A classic example of just what the Middlewich Diary can achieve. We have preserved the Facebook Feedback as part of this entry to illustrate how the process of revising our information works. Many thanks to all our contributors for  their efforts -Ed.

Here's the revised version of the text:
We're back in Middlewich Town Centre on Carnival Day, Saturday 16th July 1952, to witness the arrival of the Middlewich Carnival Queen, Jacqueline Davies, with her two train bearers.
The gentleman with the rosette is Mr G Moses*, Chairman of the Carnival Committee. 
The Queen is heading towards the War Memorial  which was at that time sited between Hightown and Lower Street, to lay a wreath, as was customary at carnivals at that time, while the procession itself is about to veer off down Lower Street.
The Carnival Queen, of course, is not to be confused with King and Queen Carnival.
 I don't know if these two semi-knockabout, almost Pantomime Dame-like figures  took part in carnivals at the time of our photo, but they certainly appeared during later Carnivals in the 70s and were always played by the more extrovert and ebullient members of rugby clubs and the like.
Our Carnival Queen, though, as you might expect, has more of the look of the young Queen Elizabeth, who had ascended to the throne on the 6th February, and was to be crowned on the 2nd of June in the following year.

* Margaret Williams, in the comments below, has his name as 'Mr G Moss' and, particularly in Middlewich, this does sound a more likely name. Can anyone tell us which is correct?


(Bear in mind that, when this picture was first published, we were under the impression that it showed a scene from the 1949 Carnival. We didn't know the name of the Carnival Queen, or the name of her escort [the man with the rosette]. We did, however, surmise that he might be 'the chairman of the Carnival Committee'. 
We deduced that the Queen was heading for the War Memorial, because the crowd seemed to be parting to allow her through, but didn't know about the custom of Carnival Queens laying wreaths. We thought, though, that she might have 'made a speech' there, which she may well have done. Finally, we changed 'Princess Elizabeth' to 'Queen Elizabeth' and revised her dates -Ed)


See also: CARNIVAL DAY 1952 AT BACK FIELD, ST ANN'S AVENUE

Facebook feedback:

Margaret Williams: I think the Carnival Queen in the picture may be called Jacqueline Davies and at that time the Carnival Queen used to lay a wreath on the War Memorial before heading up to what was known as I think station fields (ICI fields) for the grand procession

Geraldine Williams: I thought it looked like Jacqueline Davies, too, but she would only have been aged 10-11 in 1949. Did she have an older sister?
If you’re correct about the Station Field venue and if it is Jacqueline she wouldn’t have had far to go home as she lived just over Station Bridge! I’d noticed on a previous pic that the crowd seemed to be separating to form a pathway to the Cenotaph, so that makes sense if there was a wreath-laying ceremony.
If it is Jacqueline, I used to be so scared of her, as she was very vocal in the daily exchange of insults when children from the Council School (as it was called) encountered St. Mary’s children on the Town Bridge at home time.
I think they called us ‘Catholic Bulldogs’, but I never understood why……!

Dave Roberts: How very different from the home life of our own dear Queen…

Geraldine Williams: Tee hee!

Margaret Williams: I have found a dilapidated cutting from the Middlewich Chronicle, which I wasn’t sure I still had, and it confirms the young lady is, indeed, Jacqueline Davies, but the date on the cutting is Saturday 26th July 1952. Her escort is a Mr G Moss, chairman of the Carnival Committee.
The procession started at The Avenues and arrived at ICI Field for the crowning ceremony.

Geraldine Williams: Clever you! That would explain a lot.

Margaret Williams: The article in the Chronicle actually states that 1952 was the third annual carnival in the town, which would imply that 1949 was the first and
might explain the incorrect reference on the files.

(reformatted 29/12/2011)
























COALPIT LANE IN THE SNOW

Photo from Robin Lord's CLIKPICS site 'East of Eden'. Used with permission
by Dave Roberts
Here's a nice seasonal picture showing a little of the natural beauty which surrounds us here in our 'pretty town, seated in a valley' in the centre of Cheshire.
Coalpit Lane connects Stanthorne Crossroads near Wimboldsley with the Middlewich to Northwich/Winsford road, the turning at the Middlewich end being in Chester Road,  a few yards from the bridge over the River Wheelock and  close to the Town and Borough council boundary.
The lane provides a useful (too useful, some would say, in these days of 'rat runs') alternative route between Stanthorne and Middlewich.
Another junction at the top of the hill similarly provides an alternative route to Winsford.
There was always great excitement when the little single-decker Crosville bus which took us all from the bus company's garage in Wheelock Street to Wimboldsley School every day, was diverted, usually because of some problem with the Nantwich Road aqueduct, to take us along this route which itself crosses the SUC Middlewich Branch canal via an overbridge in a very picturesque location.
One part of Middlewich I have never seen, even in photographs, is that stretch of the River Wheelock between Nantwich Road (where it runs through an aqueduct under the canal said to be the twin of the familiar Nantwich Road one) and the Wheelock Bridge in Chester Road.
And I wonder if anyone took any pictures of Wimboldsley School during its recent and sudden expansion?
The establishment is now at least three times bigger than it was in the 1950s, a sure sign of its enduring usefulness and popularity.

Monday, 26 December 2011

HIGHTOWN and MIDDLEWICH TOWN HALL 1960s

We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know
by Dave Roberts
This photograph from the Paul Hough Collection shows one of old Middlewich's most missed buildings, the Victorian Town Hall which stood on Hightown until the early 1970s. The clue to its position lies in the metal church gatepost on the right which is still there and is just a few yards away from the town's main war memorial.
The Town Hall appears to be quite small from this angle but, in fact, extended a long way back across the whole width of the churchyard and had its back door on Lower Street, just where the 'Town Bridge end' of the amphitheatre is now. Until the early 1930s the Town Hall was even longer but it was shortened to enable the widening of Lower Street. A sizeable portion of the churchyard was also removed for the same reason.
There is a lot of nostalgia for Middlewich's lost Town Hall. People remember it as the venue for the Saturday Night dances of their youth with Percy Bailey's Band; older residents go back further, to the wartime dances organised for (and sometimes by) the American servicemen stationed at nearby Byley airfield.
The St Michael's Players, the local amateur dramatic group, also used the hall.
I have one vivid memory of the Town Hall which goes back to 1968 when I was 16 and still at school.
I spent one late Summer afternoon sitting in the Church yard wondering, as 16 year olds will, what I was going to do with my life (I will be 60 next year, by the way, and I'm still wondering).
In the adjacent Town Hall someone had set up a record-player and, through an open window throughout that sunny afternoon, played the same record over and over again:
SUNSHINE GIRL - HERMAN'S HERMITS
The following year the Town Hall was replaced, for entertainment purposes at least,  by the Civic Hall, tacked onto the back of the council offices in Lewin Street.
But in its day, the Town Hall was more than just an entertainment venue; it also served at various times as the town's library, MUDC offices and court room.
The reason given for the demolition of the hall was that the upstairs room, where the entertainment took place, had an 'unsafe floor'.
I've been told since that that unsafe floor had, in fact, been replaced not too long before the hall was closed, but no matter - by the early 70s this ornamented and castellated building had had its day.
By this time, also, the shops further down Hightown were also looking decidedly dilapidated and the whole block was swept away to produced an open space in the heart of the town which, after a time as the windswept and forlorn looking 'piazza', now provides a superb outdoor performance area suitable for events such as the MFAB Festival and Santa's visit with his reindeer each year.
On the left of the photograph, we can see Hulme's Grocers*, with its pyramids of canned goods. This building is now the Accord Clinic.
P.S. When I was doing  a little research for this article on the internet I was puzzled to find that, despite the fact that Middlewich Town Hall disappeared in the early 1970s, people were still visiting it. Or claiming to, that is.
Peter Moore Dutton of Tushingham went to 'Middlewich Town Hall' in December 2001 to pick up copies of Tim Strickland's Roman Middlewich book; Cheshire & Warrington CVS were advertising concerts 'featuring Slipstream, Crash Test and Taking Liberties' at 'Middlewich Town Hall' in June 2011 and  November's Sincerely Abba concert was also, according to 'Welcome to Cheshire and Chester', held at 'Middlewich Town Hall'.
Pardonable mistakes, of course. The Victoria Building and the Civic Hall are, to all intents and purposes, now 'Middlewich Town Hall', and you can quite see how people from outside the area might make that assumption.
Indeed, by 2015, after taking over  responsibility for the Civic Hall and Victoria Building, the Town Council had made the sensible decision to formally name Victoria Building  'The Town Hall' and the former Civic Hall the 'Town Hall Entertainment Suite'.
UPDATE (2016) A short time later, the 'Town Hall Entertainment Suite' was re-christened 'The Victoria Hall', an even more fitting name.
*Geraldine Williams has told me that a true Middlewicher would use the expression 'Grocer Hulme's'. But I'm not a true Middlewicher.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Editor's note:
You will have noted that we have credited this particular photograph to the Paul Hough Collection. It does, however, also appear on page 83 of  Images of England - Middlewich by Brian Curzon and Paul Hurley (Tempus Publishing 2005) - although their version of it is not as clear as the one we have used.
Other photos from the collection also appear in the book.
Messrs Curzon and Hurley's book is based on 'a collection of slides bought at an auction' with additional pictures from Brian Curzon's own collection.
The Paul Hough Collection, which we are using with his permission, was passed on to him by a friend:
They were scanned from a mate's photo album; he was the previous owner of Middlewich Auto Spares in Wheelock Street. A photographer was taking photos of his premises, apparently stables of yesteryear (Doctor's Surgery?) and sold him the prints. That's as much as I know about them. So I thought it was the correct thing to share them!! 
It seems obvious that there is more than one set of prints/slides of these photographs and their exact origin and copyright holder may never be known.
However, if you have any information as to the original source of these excellent photographs, please don't hesitate to get in touch.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, 24 December 2011

MIDDLEWICH TALES: THE CHRISTMAS BONUS by Daniel Preston


THE CHRISTMAS BONUS
by Daniel Preston

In this seasonal tale by Daniel Preston we've decided to leave the local Cheshire dialect, as spoken by Ian Sant, intact because in this case it's almost completely intelligible, even to those unlucky enough to come from outside our area.
The Cheshire dialect, as spoken in Middlewich, is a mixture of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, with bits borrowed from all over the place.
Actually, our greatest contribution to the English language seems to have come about when we took the shortened definite article of Yorkshire and Lancashire, as in 't'' and 'th'' and dispensed with it altogether:
Hence 'goin' shop' and 'goin' Northwich' etc.
On Facebook just the other day one Middlewich lady, wishing to inform her friends that she had had a slight accident on the icy pavements, did so with the short and pithy comment:
'Just rucked it goin' shop' -Ed.

THE CHRISTMAS BONUS
 In those far off days of only forty-odd years ago, when Christmas was Christmas and coffee without milk was called black coffee; in the days when I was a paper lad, we used to get a Christmas card and a small gift of money from the customers to thank us for a job well done throughout the year.

It was Ian Sant who taught me the ins and outs of attaining said bonus.
'In th’ days before Christmas,' he said, 'It’s best that, when thar goes up th’ path, thar stamps tha feet and  meks a racket so’s they know thar’s comin’.”
 Thus alerted of your arrival someone would come out of the house to give you your treat.
There was always a Christmas card and usually some money in an envelope marked ‘Paper Lad’.
Sometimes it was paper money, like a ten bob note, other times it was coins, like two bob or half-a-crown.
Sometimes, if you’d encouraged the dog to shred the newspaper, it was ‘dash all’.

On one occasion, after I had stomped my way up the path in the prescribed manner, the lady of the house came out, an envelope in her hand.
“You don’t have to make all that racket,” she said. “you’ll get your Christmas bonus.”
“It’s ‘cos me feet are cold,” I said, looking embarrassed.

She took her paper and handed over the envelope; Christmas card and bonus.

At the top of Spital Hill, on the left hand side as you go towards Winsford, is the house where the Carnegies lived.
It was (and is) a big house with a gravel drive.
The Carnegies were well off and I think they had horses stabled there.

Ian Sant had advised me that, at Christmas, it was best to ride in there like the clappers and put the bike into a slide.
'If thar comes off thee bike,' he said, 'Carnegie’s daughter will come running out, calling thee a poor boy and taking thee inside fer ‘ot chocolate ‘n’ pamperin’.'

Apparently this had happened to him the year before and he said that Carnegie’s daughter was a cracker.
I can’t attest to the looks of Carnegie’s daughter as I never did meet her.
However, I did ride into the gravel drive like the clappers in the days coming up to Christmas. I didn’t come off my bike, against my nature that, but I did make a lot of noise on that gravel.
I got my Christmas bonus as well, paper money from the Carnegies, but it wasn’t the daughter that handed it to me.
I don’t know if that house is still there, it probably is, but maybe surrounded by mews cottages or some other such symbol of the modern age.  
© Daniel Preston 2011
Mistaken identity: Stanthorne Hall
Daniel Preston 


I looked on google street views and went up to the top of Spittal Hill. There is a nameplate at the opening to the drive where the Carnegie's lived. It is Stanthorne Hall. I'm sure that many readers on here remember Mrs. Mac (I think her name was Mrs. McCrystal) that worked at Reg Taylor's. She put the newspapers together for each of the paperboys and wrote the names of the intended recipients on the top. The newspapers would be put together in the order of delivery as well.

  • Editor's note: We thought at first that the house the Carnegies lived in may have been Stanthorne Hall which is a very substantial house on the Winsford Road, but this house is much too large to be the one in question.
    See the comment below from Geraldine Williams.
  • Geraldine Williams I don't think the Carnegies lived at Stanthorne Hall, Dave. The Dalby family lived there during the '50s and it's on the right hand side much further along the Winsford Road. I'm pretty sure there's a grand house with a drive, set in a lot of greenery literally at the top of Spittal Hill on the left.



  • Dave Roberts Hmmm....I did wonder. Stanthorne Hall seems to be on a little too grand a scale to be the house in question. As always, this will have to be a case of actually going and having a look, armed with new digital camera.


    Editor's Note: Further internet research from Daniel himself seems to point to Bostock House, which is on the left at the very top of Spital Hill and, at the time of publication (December 2011) is up for sale. We hope to obtain a photo of the house soon.
(reformatted 26/12/2011)

Friday, 23 December 2011

MURGY'S OFFICE BLOCK EARLY 2011

Photo: Paul Greenwood    All rights reserved

by Dave Roberts
In our journey around Middlewich and district over the last seven months  it's been difficult to avoid over use of the phrase 'end of an era'.
Well, here's the first of a series of photographs by local photographer Paul Greenwood which was taken at the start of 2011, just in time to catch the end of what must be considered another of those 'eras', the era of chemical production on most of  the Brenntag site.
Some people will remember it as the  Hays Chemicals or Albion Chemicals site, and before that as BP Chemicals, but it was, and is, known universally by Middlewich people, whatever its official name, as 'Murgy's'.
The Murgatroyd's site was officially in Elworth but a lot of people from Middlewich worked there, and for many years  the site depended for its brine supplies on the  pump in Brooks Lane, Middlewich, which once supplied brine to the company's nearby  open pan works, a flow being sent down the 'brine line' which ran, and still runs, alongside the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway.
The Brooks Lane brine pump itself is, as we have already seen, the subject of a preservation project spearheaded locally by Middlewich Town Council's Heritage Officer, Kerry Fletcher.

MURGATROYD'S BRINE PUMP NO 1

The story of the Murgatroyd's site is too complicated to relate here, but you can read all about it in this Catalyst PDF document which reproduces a publication written by George Twigg, formerly of the Salt Museum:

CATALYST - THE STORY OF MURGATROYDS

Talking of brine pumps, if you look carefully at the extreme right of Paul Greenwood's photo of the site's main office block, you can see another one which was on display at the entrance to the works up until its closure.
This pump has been placed in safe storage and there are plans to put it on display in Middlewich.
We believe that the electrical windings inside the pump were removed a while ago to deter copper wire thieves who also, until security was increased, caused havoc to the signalling on the nearby railway.
Brenntag still have a presence at the Middlewich end of the old Murgy's site where a combined heat and power station has been built, but most of the site is derelict and awaiting the inevitable housing estates to come.
At the Sandbach end of the site is Yew Tree Farm which still retains some beautiful old buildings and the remains of the old Murgatroyd's Social Club.
Incidentally, the rail link which once connected Murgatroyd's Works to the Middlewich branch line is still in place, although the sidings which lay alongside the works have been lifted. This link is fully signalled and just waiting for some enterprising firm to make use of it.
I have to declare an interest in Murgy's as my Uncle Dennis and Auntie Edie both worked there.
Auntie Edie worked in the canteen. I'm not sure what, precisely, Uncle Dennis did.
But I do know that on one historic day in the 1960s he took his camera, loaded with colour slide film, to work and photographed the last steam hauled train to leave the site.
Now, I'd dearly love to lay my hands on those slides....
More from Paul's collection to come on 'A Middlewich Diary' in 2012.

Facebook Feedback:
Daniel Preston 


I remember Murgy's, of course. Over the turnover bridge, along by Murgy's and into the esses. One winter's day, 1967 (as far as I can recall) going to work, Foden's, on my motorbike I hit an icy patch in the esses. The back wheel started to drift, first one way, then the other; the bike weaving all over the place while I hung onto it. I thought I would surely come a cropper. Meanwhile, while I'm doing all I can to stay on two wheels, a motorist behind me is blaring away on his horn, as if to say, "Stop clownin' around, the public road is not the place to be stunting." Just as if I had any choice in the matter.

  • Erika Ʊ Nicholson I work for a water company and we use Brenntag as a supplier.


  • Dave Roberts Hi Erika. Do you know what's on the Brenntag site at Elworth now? We know that part of it is a power station, but there seems to be more apparatus there than would be necessary just for a CPH station.

  • Erika Ʊ Nicholson The Elworth site is where we order from, so I assume they are in production of chemicals, although they mainly come from a site at Lutterworth. Elworth, I think is mainly offices, although they may produce some onsite.



  • Dave Roberts Thanks, Erika.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

MIDDLEWICH TALES: TALES OF SHREDDED NEWSPAPERS by Daniel Preston and Cliff Astles

THE TALE OF THE SHREDDED NEWSPAPER
by Daniel Preston
This  incident took place around 1964 when I was a newspaper boy.  I was still at school in those days. and  worked part-time for Reg Taylor, who had a newsagents shop in Wheelock Street where  the Choklat Bar is in the present day.
I took the round over from Ian Sant and  had morning and evening deliveries which paid ten shillings each (50p in decimal currency). I also had Sunday morning deliveries, which paid four shillings (20p).
Thursday evening was the hardest round, as that is when the Middlewich Guardian and Middlewich Chronicle came out. 
Also the Radio Times  (which had the listings for B.B.C. TV and radio) and the T.V. Times (which had the listings for ITV - in our area Granada TV during the week, and ABC Television at weekends). Everybody and his dog wanted the extra tonnage of papers on Thursday evening - one dog especially.
On
St. Anns Road
, just before where the Lily Works was then and the Newton Court care home is now, there is a fork in the road. 
One house  I made deliveries to was on Newton Heath, the street that angled off to the right from
St. Ann's Road
. On my evening rounds, I would come along
Wheelock Street
, then up
Darlington Street
, then turn left at the top and go to this particular house. 
There was a dog that lived there, not a big dog, but one well trained by his master. Every evening when I slid the paper into the letterbox, the dog would grab it in his jaws and snatch it from my hands and the letterbox would slam shut with a loud clap.
Meanwhile, the dog would be scampering off, presumably to lay the newspaper dutifully into his master’s lap. I can just see said master, sitting back in his armchair, smoking his pipe and sipping a snifter of brandy.
He would, of course, be wearing a heavy duty bathrobe and slippers, feet up on a stool.
“Good boy!” he would say, picking up the papers, “now let’s see what’s on the bally telly tonight.” 
Meanwhile, said ‘Good boy’ would settle in to lie comfortably at his master’s feet while  a roaring fire in the ornate fireplace would bathe the pair in its ruddy glow.
Meanwhile I would be still be out in the pouring rain, on my bike with a ton weight of papers hanging off my shoulder in a great, soggy canvas bag.
After several weeks of the dog grabbing the paper and me not being able to get it through the letterbox before he showed up, I hit on a strategy. 
I would keep hold of the paper until I was good and ready to let go of it and  see how long the dog could hang on. 
You see, I wanted to deliver the paper. 
That meant putting the paper through the letterbox and hearing it hit the mat on the other side of the door with a satisfying thud, not have some mongrel snatch it out of my hands. 
I wasn’t bothered about what the dog did with it afterwards, just as long as he would let me do my job first.
Which brings us to one rainy Thursday night in November 1964.
My bag was full to overloading, already heavy with all the newspapers and TV magazines and made heavier by the rain. 
I had loaded them up in the back of Reg Taylor’s shop and made my way along
Wheelock Street, delivered
 papers on
Darlington Street
 and then  pushed my bike the short distance to the house with the frantic dog.
I leaned my bike by the front gate, opened it,  squelched my way up the path and  pulled out the papers for this house - one of the evening national newspapers, the Middlewich Guardian, the Middlewich Chronicle, the T.V. Times and the Radio Times.
I folded them together with the local papers on the outside. The evening national papers weren’t too thick, but the local ones were and this made a very thick bundle… and the papers were damp, very damp.
I could hear the frantic dog scamper up to the door, eager to retrieve the papers for his master. The papers, all folded together like that, were a tight squeeze for the letterbox at the best of times. Now I had a job to get them through. As soon as they did poke through though, the dog grabbed hold and snatched them in.
However, I did not let go. I snatched them back. The dog didn’t let go either so he snatched them back to his side. I wasn’t having that, not on a night like this. Wet through and letting a dog in carpet slippers have its way? No way! 
I kept hold and snatched the papers back to my side. The dog started to turn nasty, I could hear him  growling. 
He pulled hard, I pulled hard, we both pulled hard together. 
The bundled up newspapers went see-sawing in and out of the letterbox. Of course, the papers on the outside, being wet anyway, were soon torn to sodden shreds. 
I  noticed the mess they were in, so I decided to let the dog have them now. He could trot off to his master while I trotted off down the path.
As I got back on my bike to pedal off to the next house on my rounds, I thought I heard a bewildered, “What the bally ‘ell is this?” from the house of the frantic dog.
It was one of those affairs. By the time I got back to the newsagents, the shredded newspapers were there waiting for me. They were not a pretty sight. A bit like papier-mâché that isn’t quite ready. 
Of course, I blamed it on the dog. “He wouldn’t let go,” I said. “Kept pulling on the papers and wouldn’t let me deliver them.”
 I was told that, in future, maybe I could consider putting the newspapers through the letterbox one at a time.
This would save Mr Taylor from having to consider sacking me. 
No more trouble with the frantic dog after that. First paper in, he snatched it and off he’d go. Before he got back, I’d have the rest through the letterbox and on the mat with a satisfying thunk. 
So we were all happy then and besides, Christmas was coming and I might get a chance to see Carnegie’s daughter.
 Ian Sant had told me that she was a cracker and usually gave the Christmas box to the paper lad.
That, though, is another story...  
© Daniel Preston 2011
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...and so's this, albeit a somewhat similar one from Cliff Astles. Not really all that surprising, really. Dogs will be dogs. -ed
ANOTHER TALE OF ANOTHER SHREDDED NEWSPAPER
by Cliff Astles
Interestingly Daniel's story is almost identical to one of my own.
I was also a Reg Taylor paper boy!
In 1954, when I was 14 years old, I was also delivering papers along St. Ann's Road, where at the house at the bottom of Hannah's Walk I would place the morning papers through the letter box.

At the time the family living at this house had a white terrirer dog which, when he heared me delivering papers, would wait until I placed them into the letter box, take a running leap and tear at the papers.
This went on for some time, and, like Daniel in his  tale I was slighty miffed that the owner would allow his dog to do this.
Therefore, at times I would hold onto the papers until the dog had had his fun, and then put the ripped-to-shreds paper through the letter box so that the dog's owner could try to find anything that might be still readable.
Finally, the dog owner got the message and stopped the dog from being able to do this each day. 

Two satisfied customers - me and the dog owner!
© Cliff Astles 2011
The St Ann's Road house which was home to the1950s  newspaper loving dog
Photo: Cliff Astles
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Geraldine Williams There's a definite thread coming through these Tales Daniel. Obviously the Meadow Dairy hadn't asked Reg Taylor for references.......!! haha