Monday, 26 March 2012

HIGHTOWN IN MONOCHROME and COLOUR - EARLY 20th CENTURY

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Today we're looking at two versions of another of those classic Middlewich Views - High Town, as seen from the end of Lewin Street in the early part of the last century.
From the invaluable Paul Hough Collection comes this well known black and white postcard showing, on the right, the shops which once stood in front of the church yard and the old Town Hall (then comparatively new) in the centre of the picture, with adjacent shops running down to the Bull Ring.
On the other side of the road the half-timbered roof of what is now the Accord Clinic can just be glimpsed together with  a thin sliver of the Kings Arms Hotel and the shops opposite, at the bottom of Queen Street (there were a few more in those days, and Queen Street was a lot narrower than it is today).
Most of the shops running towards the camera on the left-hand side still survive in one form or another, including Middlewich Carpets and Flooring.
There are quite a few Middlewichians in this postcard, including several children but, on this occasion, only a couple of them are taking any notice of the camera.
Middlewich, as seen in this view, looks a little shabby and down at heel, although part of this effect may come from the fact that the picture has been copied and re-copied over the years.
There is some evidence of re-touching, particularly on the Church tower.
Compare the rather bleak monochrome scene with this hand-tinted colour version from the equally invaluable Mike Jennings Classic Collection:
We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know
Here the prospects are altogether brighter and more pleasing. Edwards shop (and we wouldn't be at all surprised if it called itself an 'emporium'), is resplendent in its covering of advertisements which are probably, like most things here, much brighter in the postcard than they were in real life. We can also see a little more of the shop than in the black and white version, which has been cropped slightly at some stage in its career. The re-toucher has been at work on the Church Tower, giving it a little more detail and has made free with the red brick frontage of the Town Hall making it look more like a stone building. There are welcome splashes of green here and there.
Above it all is one of those beautiful blue skies which have always been a Middlewich feature (when they could be seen through the smoke from all those chimneys).
Obviously, a lot of time and trouble went into colouring this picture, which makes it all the more remarkable that the glaring typographical error in the title was left uncorrected.
To save you a lot of scrolling backwards and forwards, here are the two postcards side by side for easy comparison:
We believe these images to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright  on either of these images, please let us know
Incidentally, Mike Jennings tells us that the seemingly nondescript piece of land which slopes up from Leadsmithy Street to Hightown was, according to his father, once dignified with the name 'Strawberry Hill' and the Middlewich Heritage Society (and Allan Earl) have also let it be known, by means of one of those black and white plaques, that it was at one time also known as Halfpenny Hill

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