Friday, 2 March 2018

FROM WEBBS LANE TO LOWER STREET VIA PEPPER STREET

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This entry was originally published as 'Pepper Street/Lower Street Junction, Early 1970s'.


The text of the original entry:

PEPPER STREET/LOWER STREET JUNCTION. EARLY 1970s by Dave Roberts

Looking almost impossibly narrow and confined, this is the junction between Pepper Street and the area where Lower Street became Wheelock Street. It's very early in the 1970s - quite possibly 1970 or 1971.
In fact it's rather difficult to say which particular street Pepper Street is joining here - Wheelock Street is to the right, and Lower Street to the left.
Perhaps it might be more apt to say that this is where Pepper Street meets The Bull Ring.
Across the road is the then brand new building built by the Co-operative Wholesale Society Ltd and known as the Co-operative Superstore, reflecting its purpose as a place where all the previously scattered Co-op departments in Middlewich were, for the first time, gathered together under one roof.
It's rather disconcerting to note that the shop's entrance wasn't always on the left hand side, as it is now that Tesco Express rules the roost there. The right hand part of the building,  occupied for many years by Pineland Ltd, was at this time the Co-op's chemists department.
The windows in the building on the left belong to the flat above Vernon Coopers' Radio, TV and electrical shop, and the brick wall on the right was part of the house next to Dewhurst's butchers shop.
This junction, together with the reverse side of that ridiculously tall (for sighting purposes) STOP sign can be seen in this entry
VERNON COOPERS, STANWAYS AND WOODBINES

as it appeared from a camera position looking in the opposite direction from just underneath the Co-op's long vanished canopy.
As Seddon's Salt Works was in Pepper Street it might be thought that this cramped and inconvenient junction might cause problems for vehicles wanting to reach the works but, in actual fact, the entrance and exit for carts (and later lorries) taking loads of salt from Seddon's was further down Lower Street, next to the gas showroom near Town Bridge.

UPDATE (2nd March 2018)

FROM WEBBS LANE TO LOWER STREET VIA PEPPER STREET

by Dave Roberts



As might be expected, the original Diary entry 'Pepper Street/Lower Street Junction Early 1970s'  attracted a lot of interest since it was first published in 2012. 

We thought it might be worthwhile trying to illustrate how the old, longer, Pepper Street used to look and how it gave people coming from Webbs Lane access to the town centre. 

In fact, now that we have added a lot more photographs to this revised entry, it's possible to trace practically the whole route from Webbs Lane to Lower Street as it was all those years ago.

This photo is as good a place to start as any, particularly as it shows the houses which now constitute practically all of modern-day Pepper Street. Here's the original description of the photo as it first appeared on the Middlewich Diary.

Anonymous, talking about our main picture,  says:

'This brings back memories. If you were to turn around and walk back towards Webbs Lane, there was an open space opposite Seddons Salt Works, we use to pay football and cricket there.'


Well, we think the space to the right of this picture, where the Reliant car is parked, must be the space in question.

This picture, taken in 1969 with our trusty Instamatic camera, is fascinating as it provides a link between the Pepper Street of those days,at the very end of the open pan salt works era and the Pepper Street of today.


Today's street is, as we've said, more or less just that short terrace on the extreme left. What used to be the roadway is now a slip road connecting Webbs Lane to St Michael's Way opposite the Vaults.

The large building at the end of the Terrace is Seddon's Salt Works offices.




Seddon's offices in Pepper Street in the 1920s. The still extant terraced houses can be seen behind the building.

 Beyond that is the salt works itself, by this time closed and awaiting demolition.

Here's what the other side of the street looked like:




To get to the town centre you walked towards the salt works, and then took a sharp right turn between the works and the building with the single chimney to wind up at the place shown in our original main picture. The building in question is interesting in itself.  Previous MD feedback suggests that it was once The Lord Hood public house, but this is not the case. Ken Kingston's Middlewich Hospitality (Middlewich U3A Local History group 2014) tells us that the pub, built in 1782, was closed and demolished in 1920, and replaced by a workshop and timber shed in 1929. These premises were themselves demolished just after World War II, so it appears that the waste ground itself was the site of the pub and its later replacement. What the building with the central chimney was remains a mystery.

Here's a bit more of 1969 Pepper Street, taking us further towards the town centre:





To get to the town centre today you have to take more or less the same route, but you'll be walking towards the entrance to 'The Moorings' rather than the salt works and, once you make the right turn, you have St Michael's Way, with heavy traffic heading to and from the M6, to contend with before you can reach the Bull Ring.

Out of shot behind the camera and to the right is Middlewich's telephone exchange, then much smaller and in its own compound accessed from Pepper Street/Webbs Lane. Nowadays, of course, it's much larger and takes its place among the buildings lining St Michael's Way.

As 'Anon' says, Powell's Clothing Factory, connected with the company's retail premises in Wheelock Street, could also be found in the area, on land now occupied by St Michael's Way. 

It is this connection with the textile industry which has led to the new housing development next to the telephone exchange being given the rather fanciful name 'Spindle Whorl'. Put simply, a 'spindle whorl' is one of the many tools used by cloth weavers. It's a kind of flat disc with a hole in it. Spindle whorls are made from many diffferent materials and are very collectable.

Another development on the site, closer to Wheelock Street, has been given the more prosaic and, some might say, more appropriate name of 'Powell House'.

Powell's Tailors itself, once the smartest shop in the town, is now in a semi-derelict state after  Eric Alcock electrical moved out a few years ago.


Eric Alcock Ltd, pictured in 2012. The electrical goods firm's tenure of the former impeccably smart Powell's Tailor's premises did its appearance no favours at all, and now (2018) the shop is in a semi-derelict state and looks even worse.

First published 1st March 2013 as

'PEPPER STREET/LOWER STREET JUNCTION EARLY 1970s

Expanded and re-published 2nd March 2018 as

'FROM WEBBS LANE TO LOWER STREET VIA PEPPER STREET'


8 comments:

  1. The brick wall on the right belonged to the house that was on the corner of Pepper Street, Dewhurst's butchers was next to that going up Wheelock Street and next door to what was then the Brown's Vaults. The butchers and the house were what is now Vaults carpark. You can see this on the photo of the Bogota Boys at Middlewich.

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  2. You're right, of course. Thanks for your comment, and I've corrected the entry. Do you know (or does anyone else reading this know) whether the house was part of Dewhurst's- i.e. did the people who ran the shop live in the house?

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    1. Forgot to put my name to the above comment. I don't know who owned the house but when i was at school The Johnson Family lived in it and I went into it to visit my friend. One of the daughters might be about your age Dave. I think she was called Susan. Linda was the same age as me.

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  3. Dave I don't know who that is on that bike but I do remember crashing on my bike into that wall against Vernon Coopers in the mid 1960's. This was when you 'allowed' to race around the streets unhindered by traffic!

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  4. This brings back memories, if you were to turn around and walk back towards Webbs Lane, there was an open space opposite Seddons Salt Works, we use to pay football and cricket there, al little further along was the back entrance to Powells, again we used the wall for some kind of ball game, until someone complainted and PC Plod came along and told us all our rights, Ian Fox (Crafty) was bending down tying his shoe laces and got away with it, we, the reast of us had to go to the town Hall which in those days was next to St Michaels where my dad was fined £5, alot of money in the late 50's early 60's. getting back to the picture, Vernons at the bottom left and if you were to walk to the left there was a chippy, cant remember who owned it. Ill tell you something else too, at night it was a bit spooky walking up Pepper Street, and what a strange name "Pepper Street", As salt was produced there.

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    Replies
    1. GERALDINE WILLIAMS4 March 2018 at 13:15

      Was it Hough's Chippie?

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    2. yes it was

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