Wednesday, 7 December 2011

AN AWKWARD TURN TO THE LOMPON

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A what? Middlewichians (or 'Middlewichers', which seems to be the favoured current term) of long-standing might just understand why I have used this particular title for this posting. It's another one of those familiar postcards of old Middlewich scenes we all grew up with and 'An Awkward Turn To The Lompon' was the title/description hand-written on the original negative, although it's missing from  this particular print, which we’ve borrowed from the invaluable Paul Hough Collection.
So what does it mean?
I always, without really thinking it through, had a vague idea that it might, in some way, be a corruption of 'lump pan' but this, of course, is a dead end. The nearest lump pans were some distance away in Wych House Lane or Pepper Street.
But the word 'lompon' does have a kind of authentic Cheshire dialect ring to it, so I consulted A Glossary Of Words Used In the County Of Chester  published by Robert Holland of Frodsham in 1885 and found this:

LOMPOND (or, as it should probably be spelt, LOM POND) - the pond in a farm yard into which all refuse runs.
There is a place at the junction of two brooks,the Allum and the Croco at Kinuerton (sic -ed)called Lompon - The Cheshire Sheaf (The Cheshire Sheaf was a regular column featured in the Chester Courant newspaper)

So 'Lompon' was, or could have been, a Cheshire word for a kind of muck hole or cesspit. But how does this fit in with the picture above, which has teased and tantalised many of us for years? According to Brian Curzon  in Images of England - Middlewich (Tempus Publishing 2005)the large building in the centre of the photograph is  the Navigation Inn, which was one of those split level pubs with entrances at street level and canal level, and stood immediately next to the old Town Bridge, and the motorcycle and sidecar are turning from Mill Lane (where Town Bridge Motors now is) to take an immediate left turn onto the bridge.
But, if Brian Curzon is right, here's the enigma: when you turn out of Mill Lane today onto Town Bridge, you turn right, not left.
If we take the picture and flip it horizontally it makes more sense.

In this case Kinderton Street would come in from the left behind the buildings on the extreme left of the picture and Mill Lane would have had to have been a much more substantial road than it is now. What's more, its alignment would have had to have changed a lot since those days.
But, in any case, could a picture like this have been published 'back to front' for so many years without anyone noticing?
(In any case, John Capper has pointed out that, in the reversed version, the sidecar is on the wrong side for the UK, which is 'not out of the question, but unlikely'.)
It just doesn't seem to ring true, whichever way you look at it (to coin a phrase). The road in the foreground is much more likely to be Kinderton Street itself,  but, if we take that to be true the picture remains a bit of an puzzle. 
Perhaps the building on the left (of the top picture) wasn't the Navigation Inn at all. Perhaps the hostelry in question is, in fact, out of sight behind the building on the right? This would make the road in the foreground Kinderton Street all right, but what, then, were all those buildings to the left?
Are they the buildings seen on the right of this picture? They don't look like them.
Now we can begin to see why this particular postcard has always puzzled people. We all know what it depicts, or is supposed to depict but, somehow, the pieces won't fall into place properly. We have a nagging feeling that, somehow, in some way, the picture is 'the wrong way round'.
To simplify our dilemma: I've looked at this old postcard thousands of times as a straightforward picture of a motorbike and sidecar travelling down Kinderton Street on its way to pass over the old town bridge. Why, then, is it turning left?
The answer has to be that the alignment of Kinderton Street was drastically altered when the new bridge was built and that was a lot more demolition than I'd thought. (Another red herring, with hindsight, when you know the real solution to the mystery -Ed).
But just where was the ‘Lompon' anyway? It must have been a familiar local name, to have been thought worthy of a mention on a postcard. But why would a cesspit be a local landmark? Then again, this is Middlewich...
Was it a reference to the River Croco itself which, as we've discussed before, seems to have been used as a drainage culvert for most of its long history?
On the other hand, the name Lompon, as used here, may have nothing whatsoever to do with cesspits and drainage, and might have another source altogether.
And what about the other brook, the Allum, which is supposed to join the Croco somewhere near here?
Well, actually I have a theory about that which will have to wait for another day.
Incidentally, non-Middlewichers may like to note that the word 'awkward' in our title should be pronounced 'ockud'.


CLIFF ASTLES says:


Sure this one was taken of the old Middlewich Town Bridge, over the Trent and Mersey Canal, some time in the early 1900's. ( Motorbike and side car are a give away ??)well before the new Town Bridge was built.The corner of the building on the right may even be the TALBOT Pub ???

UPDATE: As is usual with this kind of mystery, the actual answer is very simple, and was 'there all the time'.
We have indeed been looking at the picture 'the wrong way round' but not in the way we surmised.
All is revealed here -ed


2 comments:

  1. Did you ever "reveal" your theory about Allum Brook? I assumed it was tributary that runs from Fender's Wood to the Old Station House. But I wonder if the Croco was originally known as Allum Brook until is forked at Fender's, with the lower part being called the Croco? I guess the confluence of the River Croco and Allum Brook would then be where these two streams came together, northwest of Kinderton Mill, before joining the river Dane?

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  2. Allum Brook farm, 1 mile south of Holmes Chapel (previously Doglane Farm on OS maps as early as 1873 and as late as 1948) is about 300 yards form the Croco. Similarly, the bridge over the Croco on London Road, about 1/2 mile south of Holmes Chapel is called Alum Bridge on old maps. This suggests that the River Croco was originally the name for the part that ran from Brooks Lane to the Dane and the easterly part of the river from Brooks Lane to its source south of Brereton was call the Allum Brook?

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