Monday, 28 May 2012

FOLK & BOAT FESTIVAL TEAM HELP OUT, MAY 1996

by Dave Roberts
Today is the birthday of our erstwhile colleague Mike Appleton, now living overseas, and we thought it would be nice to dig out this newspaper photograph from our archives (actually the Folk & Boat Festival Archives) as it shows not only Mike but also other members of the then Folk & Boat Festival Committee (or 'team' as we liked to call ourselves in those days) including, very unusually, me (that's me front left, pretending to know one end of a bodhran from another).
The occasion was a photocall for the Middlewich Chronicle's 'Stacey Pushchair Appeal' and the pub in the background is the King's Lock.
 The F&B Committee were planning a special concert for the appeal which was raising money to help purchase a new state-of-the-art pushchair to make life easier for 19 month old toddler Stacey Preston and her parents who lived in Whitley Close.
Quite why the photographer should have chosen Mike and me to head the photograph, leaving lesser team members seething in the background is not clear (although Mike really did play the guitar and, presumably, still does).
For myself, whenever I look  in the mirror these days and note with alarm the  thinning hair and expanding waistline, I can console myself with the thought that at least I don't look like I did then.
Mike, of course, hasn't changed one iota.
Happy Birthday Mike!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

BIG LOCK COTTAGE LATE 1960s

If you own the copyright on this image, please let us know
As so often happens in our Middlewich Diary, today we  find ourselves walking down an already much-trodden path to view once again the lock-keeper's cottage which  stood opposite the pub at the Big lock.
Built on a basically similar pattern to the much better-known (and still extant) Wardle Lock Cottage, but never extended in the same way, due to its chronic problems with unstable foundations, the Big Lock cottage was, nonetheless, a picturesque edifice in a quaint, ramshackle kind of a way, and, if it hadn't been for its tendency to threaten  to collapse and fall into the River Croco behind it for much of its life, would have made a much sought after canal-side dwelling in the new, modern canal age.
There's more on the cottage here (follow the links).
In the foreground are those utilitarian metal lock  gates which were only replaced by gates of a more traditional style in recent years. You can make out the crumpled bit on the nearest one where some overenthusiastic boater gave it a bit of a bashing.
The land to the rear of the cottage, on the other side of the River Croco, and stretching away to the right to the houses in King Street on the skyline is 'Down Bill Hewitt's', a hinterland of old salt workings with a public footpath running right through the centre of it which was ideal for the testing of bike riding skills.
Housing has now been built on much of 'Bill Hewitt's', but the footpath still survives, diverted somewhat to run alongside the River Croco to a point just out of shot to the left of the photo above.

Facebook Feedback:
Paul Greenwood Demolished by Baskerville Demolition of Stoke-On-Trent round about 1980 (give or take a year)





On the 27th May 2011 we took a look at a picture of Wheelock Street which had been lurking in our archives for 38 years labelled 'Lewin Street'.
Oh the shame! We'll have to give that award back...
Also the strange tale of the MUDC sign and the 'witches flying over the church'.




Saturday, 26 May 2012

AQUEDUCT APPROACH 1920s

We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know
Here's an idyllic and almost rural scene on the outskirts of Middlewich which is still very recognisable today. We think, from the look of the motor car and the clothes worn by the two girls in the foreground, that this view of Nantwich Road as it dips steeply to run under the Middlewich Branch canal via 'The Aqueduct' (actually, as we've seen, one of three such structures in the town, one of them only a few yards away)that this picture dates back to the early 1920s
The car in the photo is coasting serenely down the slope, confident that the likelihood of much traffic coming the other way is remote, while the two little girls pass the time away chatting happily to each other as they linger halfway down the brick staircase which runs from road level up the bank to join the canal towpath.
Quite why that staircase is there is a little uncertain.
It's built from heavy-duty  blue engineering brick and  appears to have been put there at the same time as the aqueduct, so it's possible it's there to give maintenance workers access to the canal and the top of the aqueduct.
From time to time concerned people send reports into British Waterways about the fact that the aqueduct has 'started to leak'.
The truth is that, like most such canal structures, it always did leak, and quite possibly always will do.
The houses at the top of the picture would have been quite new at the time the photograph was taken.


On the 26th May 2011 the Middlewich Diary section of the Salt Town Site was taking the first of many looks at Kinderton Street, and in particular the Talbot Hotel.


Friday, 25 May 2012

ONE YEAR ON...

by Dave Roberts
One year ago today saw the start of the first incarnation of 'A Middlewich Diary' as a section of the Salt Town Site,our original website which was once the home of the Salt Town Poets (1995-2010) and still survives as a kind of miscellany of salt town stuff and bits and pieces.
The original 'Middlewich Diary' pages are still intact and it's possible to see how the idea for the Middlewich Diary blog developed over the short period between the end of the website 'Diary' and the start of the blog itself (which you're reading now) on the 10th June last year.
The actual style of the Diary was developed many years earlier in 1985 with the Middlewich Heritage Society Newsletter in which I used to fill many a blank half page with a photo of old Middlewich and add my own, sometimes idiosyncratic, commentary.
Our first 'official' Middlewich Diary picture was the one above, part of a set of Kodachrome slides which I took in the late sixties and early seventies during the period when Middlewich was starting to change  from a grimy workaday salt town into something resembling the attractive semi-dormitory town we know today.
You can read the commentary on this picture (and the rest of the original 'Middlewich Diary' pages) by clicking here

Thursday, 24 May 2012

LEWIN STREET 1972

If you own the copyright on this image, please let us know
This photograph from the Paul Hough collection follows on from this one and shows Lewin Street as it was fifteen years earlier, around 1972, when the 'VIC Coin-Op Laundry' and dry-cleaners occupied the former Co-op grocery store which is currently the home of Rowland's Pharmacy and Middlewich Post Office.
This 'laundry' (or laundrette as everyone called it) was managed by a Mrs Meakin who had twin sons.
Proceeding on down the street we see the Crown, which was then an outpost of Greenall Whitley Land (roughly covering the same area as 'Granadaland' - there were many and various claims to the territory of the North-West in those days).
After the Crown it's business as usual with Fred Dodd's gent's outfitters and the little terrace of houses with a shop at the end, all of which have now been replaced by 'Longcross Court'.
On the extreme left you can just make out the shape of an old fashioned red GPO telephone box, now replaced by a more modern version.
It's easy to get nostalgic about those old red telephone 'kiosks'.
In reality they were dirty, germ-ridden and frequently insanitary (for reasons we needn't go into) and, to cap it all, frequently vandalised, so that your chances of finding a phone which actually worked were quite remote.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

BIG LOCK circa 1875

Photograph from the collection of the late Frank Smith of Ravenscroft. Reproduced by courtesy of Joan Smith
by Dave Roberts
This photograph, which has been sent to us by Middlewich Diary contributor Bill Eaton, must be one of the oldest, and certainly one of the most interesting, we've ever published.
It was loaned to Bill by the late Frank Smith of Ravenscroft Cottage, who was one of the leading lights of the Middlewich Heritage Society when it started in 1985.
As Bill says, Middlewich's heritage was a passion with Frank and the two of them would spend hours talking about the town's past.
Frank was always meticulous in his research, so we can, I think, take it for granted that the description he wrote on the back of the original photograph is correct, and that the image shows the shop which stood where the Big Lock pub and restaurant is now before that building was erected in the last quarter of the 19th century.
In fact Frank  added a question mark to the title - Big Lock Ca 1875? - indicating that, in his opinion, more research was needed.
It was, and is, but the photograph seems to fit the bill if we're looking for a picture of what stood on the site of the pub in former days.
The broad lock itself is in the foreground, and one of its gates can be seen on the left (the boatwoman standing next to it, by the way, appears to be wearing the traditional white head dress, indicating that Queen Victoria was still alive when the photo. was taken. Women on the canals switched to black head dresses as a sign of mourning for the old Queen, and never changed back again)
The steep cobbled alleyway in between the shop and the large building on the right which was, we presume, the condensed milk factory ( the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company was certainly in business in 1870) has endured for all these years and now forms a passageway between the Big Lock pub and the smart new town houses which have replaced the factory in recent years.
Bill Eaton, like all the rest of us, can only remember the building next to the  Big Lock being a pub but, it stands to reason that something must have been there before it.
We're used to the idea of a shop for boaters being incorporated into the pub, but it's very interesting to know that, as this picture appears to show us, the shop pre-dated the pub itself.
The canal and its lock had been there for a hundred years before this photo was taken and the need for groceries and provisions for the people working the boats would always have existed, so its perfectly likely that the shop was there first.
In fact, there are photographs of the pub with the shop incorporated into it, and the shop frontage looks remarkably similar to the one in this picture. Could it be that the shop premises were simply enlarged to form the pub, leaving the original shop and its frontage intact?
The building on the left with the tantalising letter 'S' at the end of its sign (we'll probably never know what that sign said) is interesting and could provide an alternative answer to this latest Middlewich Diary mystery.
You'll note that there is a set of stairs running up from the towpath to give access to this building.
Could it be that the building in question  was the canal side pub at the time, calling itself the Big Lock  or, perhaps, going under some other name?
Many thanks to Bill Eaton for sending us this fascinating picture.

SEE ALSO THE BIG LOCK 1970s (FOLLOW THE LINK FOR BIG LOCK 2012)
                    THE BIG LOCK AND NESTLE'S MILK FACTORY

Facebook Feedback:

Geraldine Williams Is it possible that Frank was actually querying whether it is a picture of Middlewich Big Lock? Apart from the little alleyway it takes some imagination to transform the site into the 1970 version. I understood that the building by the present-day car-park used to be stables and that there were also some rails to roll down the condensed milk barrels onto the barges. The 1970 pic of the pub shows it was quite a grandiose design, so it's unlikely that it was an adaptation of any of the 1875 buildings.

Dave Roberts Yes, I think that's exactly what Frank was querying. I gather from Bill Eaton that he and Frank discussed this at length. The quality of the original photo suggests that it was taken from a book, and I think Frank was querying the original caption, or description, from that book.
My first impression was that the lock gate has to be in the wrong place for this to be the Big Lock, but when I looked at the 1970 picture it became obvious that the lock gate in the picture is the gate at the 'Middlewich' end of the lock, not the 'Northwich' end, so it could fit. The alleyway and curved wall to the right are also tantalisingly 'correct'. What a pity the picture doesn't include the building out of shot to the left.
This could be another Croxton Waterfall...







Tuesday, 22 May 2012

LOCAL HERO AWARDS 2012 - THE MAYOR'S AWARD

Here's the Mayor's Award for 2012 awarded  and presented to me on the 21st May at Middlewich Civic Hall by the retiring Mayor, Cllr Sonya Edwards, at the town's annual Mayor making evening.
I've decided to feature it here, not for egotistical reasons (anyone who knows me will, I'm sure, realise that), but because I think that the awarding of this trophy is a very welcome official endorsement of the value of The Middlewich Diary (the name, incidentally, will change subtly from 'A Middlewich Diary' to 'The Middlewich Diary' tomorrow, simply because that's what everyone calls it).
I think the Middlewich Diary appeals to everyone with an interest in the town, be they long standing residents, new residents, exiled Middlewichians, or those who just find the history of this town fascinating.
I'd like to thank everyone once more for supporting our Middlewich Diary over the last year, and especially those who have contributed their own photographs and memories.
Rest assured that if your own particular contribution has not appeared yet it will appear here in due course.
The nomination for this award also mentioned my involvement in  the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign, and I'd like to thank everyone concerned with that organisation which is working hard, with the active and very welcome help of our MP Fiona Bruce, to bring about the re-opening of our local branch line to passenger trains, along with the building of a new Middlewich Station.
This development is vital for the regeneration of our town, and its importance can't be exaggerated.
I do know who nominated me for this award, but I think she would prefer to remain anonymous.
 I'd like, though, to say one final 'thank you' to her, nonetheless.
Dave Roberts

SEE ALSO: LOCAL HEROES AWARDS 2012


Sunday, 20 May 2012

VICTORIA BUILDING and LEWIN STREET 1987

by Dave Roberts

From the Carole Hughes collection, and courtesy of Carole's friend Diane Parr, comes this view of Lewin Street twenty-five years ago including, on the left, the Victoria Building, home to the Middlewich Town Council, its predecessor, the Middlewich Urban District Council (until 1974), and various other organisations.
You can see that the practice of displaying notices in the office windows was already well-established, and that someone from Congleton Borough thought he/she could come up with a better arrangement (see below)
The main door at the front of the building was originally also the 'official' entrance to the Civic Hall and there was an illuminated red and white sign over the door reading 'Council Offices & Civic Hall'.
This dated back to the opening of the Civic Hall in September 1969 but, as can be seen,  had disappeared by 1987.
In general the Lewin Street scene looked much as it does today.
Until, that is, you look closely.
Surprisingly, the ramp access to the council offices was already in place by this date, and is, of course, still there, but the glass boxes for official council notices on their brick plinth are long gone.
This arrangement, put in place by Congleton Borough Council,  could best be described as a 'triumph of hope over experience'.
Townspeople looked at those vulnerable-looking boxes with a mixture of scorn and amusement and the general opinion was that they 'wouldn't last five minutes'.
And they didn't.
To be fair, I don't think they would have 'lasted five minutes' in any era, or in any town.
They were soon gone, smashed to pieces by the local idiots, but the brick plinth lingered for many years afterwards with the remains of the metal struts for the boxes sticking out of the top as a reminder of why 'we can't have anything nice', as one resident forlornly put it to me all those years ago.
The former co-op shop was already in business as a chemists in 1987, as stated in the curiously old-fashioned (even then) 'Stymie' typeface (the same one used by Granada TV in the early 1960s) on the end of the building.
At this time the shop  was, I think, owned by Mr N G Stott, and still had its central doorway as in Co-op days. Before becoming a chemists, the shop served time as a laundrette and as a Landrover Sales & Service outlet..
Can anyone clear up a bit of confusion here? Mr Stott also used a shop further down the road at the Lewin Street end of Hightown (the shop now known as 'Jennie Edwards'), but I can't remember in which order these shops were used. Did he move from Lewin Street to Hightown, or was it the other way round?
Any information on this gratefully received.
Also seen on the end wall are the still extant post-box, one of the 'new-style' BT telephone boxes (which is still in situ, and has, in fact, just been repaired at the time of writing) and that road sign which caused us some puzzlement here.
The shop is (for the present) still a chemist - one of two Rowlands Pharmacy branches in the town, and also Middlewich's Post Office.
Next comes the pub originally known as The Crown and now named The Narrowboat.
At the time of our photograph it was called The Danes as can be seen from the sign over the door.
The Danes was run by a former landlord of The Red Lion and boasted a specially made carpet woven with representations of Great Danes.
There were also several real Great Dane dogs on the premises.
The pub at this time was very long and thin, making full use of the former outbuildings and well-known as a 'disco pub' with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.
A For Sale sign can be seen underneath the pub sign. Was this the beginning of the end for The Danes?
Certainly The Narrowboat was in existence in the early years of the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival which started in 1990.
Next comes a small alleyway giving access to the rear of the pub and a small car park (now effectively blocked by a new extension on the side of the pub) and then Fred Dodd's Gents Outfitters.
 The row of houses between Dodd's and the library had gone by this time.

SEE ALSO: LEWIN STREET 1972
                    LEWIN STREET 1987

Monday, 14 May 2012

CHESHIRE IN THE THIRTIES


We're leaving Middlewich behind for a little while as we take a circular tour around the old County of Cheshire as it was just before the Second World War (although we do end up just a short distance down the road at Bostock Hall).
Clifford Ridgway took his 16mm camera, loaded with some early colour film and recorded the sights of the pre-war county for posterity, taking in Sandbach, Barthomley, Moreton Old Hall, Marton, Gawsworth, Warburton, Lymm, Arley Hall (near Northwich), Chester & the River Dee, Eaton Hall, Shocklach, Peckforton Castle, Beeston Castle, Horsley's Well*, Bunbury, Eaton, Rushton, Cotebrook, Great Budworth and Bostock Hall (near Middlewich).
Sadly old colour film does not seem to stand the test of time as its more stable black and white equivalent does and the colour is somewhat faded, but this film is beautiful nonetheless.
It's worthwhile remembering too, that Cheshire today is just as beautiful .
One day, when time allows, we plan to remake this film in HD to prove the point.

*a word about 'Horsley's Well'. The caption included in this film is the only mention we've ever seen of 'Horsley's Well'.
As can be seen in the film, it appeared to be quite a well-known tourist spot situated close to Beeston Castle, but very little is known about it in the present day.
The closest we can get using an internet search is a mention of 'Horsley Bath' which is in the grounds of a private house at Beeston and is reputed to have its origin in Roman Times.
 It is 'fed by its own underground spring', so must be the same place as there are shots of  water flowing into the 'well' in the film.
Recent pictures show it looking more like an ordinary garden fish pond than anything else.
Accounts suggest that it was a tourist attraction 'up until around 1904' but our film seems to suggest that people were visiting it long after that date.
As always, we welcome any information on this.

We recommend that you watch the film on Youtube by clicking on the link below.

YOUTUBE LINK: CHESHIRE IN COLOUR

Saturday, 12 May 2012

GENESIS OF A CHARITY PUB QUIZ (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED


by DAVE ROBERTS

Preparations begin in earnest next week for the first ever MIDDLEWICH DIARY CHARITY QUIZ, which takes place at THE BOAR'S HEAD on Thursday 14th June.

It's just the first in a series of occasional pub quizzes which we're running to celebrate the Middlewich Diary's first birthday, to raise money for various charities - local, national and international - and above all FOR A LAUGH!

Details of the quiz, along with a link to the website of WATER AID, our first chosen charity, can be found here, and more details will be added as we get everything together.

We're looking for teams of (up to) four people, and we're hoping that local organisations will want to get teams together to enjoy an evening of jollity for a good cause.

So far two teams have registered an interest - Liz Rosenfield's 'Cheshire Folk' team and Mike Jenning's 'Buff Orpington Trio' (although there are four of them).

Let us know if you want to register a team, or, alternatively, just turn up on the night.

We're hoping for many more, so please contact us if you'd like to take part.


Starting the fund-raising ball rolling is Paul Stevens, who donated the albums seen above to a charity auction held at The Boar's a few years ago.

I was the highest bidder and have had the albums ever since.

I've only  played them once (to transfer them into digital form).

Now, like all sensible people, Paul's decided that he rather liked his old vinyl collection and has bought a new turntable.

He asked me the other day if I'd like to sell these Genesis classics back to him and we've agreed that, for a donation to our Water Aid fund, the albums can return to Paul's collection.

If you'd like to donate prizes for the quiz, or take part, contact Peter Cox on the e-mail address shown here.

Thank you!

DIARY ENTRY ARCHIVED 28/7/2012


Friday, 11 May 2012

LOWER STREET and HIGHTOWN circa 1971

If you own the copyright on this image, please let us know
Following the demolition of Vernon Coopers and other property in Lower Street at the beginning of the 1970s it was possible to take this photo in the short period before work on demolishing Hightown itself  began.
Although, as we can see, the removal of the buildings in  Lower Street had begun in earnest, Dewhurst's butcher's shop and its associated living accomodation were yet to go, and were just to the right of the photographer, as can be seen in this photograph looking in the opposite direction. The metal sign in the right foreground appears in both pictures.
On the extreme right is our poor old butchered butcher's shop and dominating the picture and hiding the parish church from view is the Town Hall and the cluster of buildings around it.
The Town Hall itself was a very large building and was even larger (or should that be longer?) until the 1930s when, as explained here, part of it was demolished to make way for a widened Lower Street when the new Town Bridge was built.
The war memorial is still in its original position behind the end wall of the chemist's shop and it's strange to realise that until the 'piazza' replaced these buildings in the 70s the crowd at the annual Remembrance Day service were obliged to stand on the public thoroughfare.
The square building to the rear of that chemist's shop is intriguing. It's impossible to make out the wording on the sign board, but I seem to recall it was something like 'Winsford Industrial Co-operative Wholesale Society Optical Dept', which seems to indicate that the shop above was also part of the Co-op at this time. (although it may have moved across the road to that part of the 'Co-operative Superstore' building later occupied by Pineland by this date).
The two-level construction of this building is quite interesting in itself, and very reminiscent of one of the late Brian Curzon's 'stack pubs' as explained here.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A MOMENT IN TIME - ERF MIDDLEWICH 2000

by Dave Roberts
We've remarked before that nothing is too trivial or esoteric for our Middlewich Diary, and here's another example of that principle in action.
This is the whiteboard-cum-noticeboard which was placed in the Goods Inward Office at ERF Service in Middlewich in the late 1990s in a bid to improve efficiency.
The fact that a large chunk has been cut out of the board, together with its general air of dilapidation, lends weight to the theory current at the time that its original destination was, in all probability, the rubbish skip and its redeployment in the Goods Inwards Department was a bit of an afterthought.
The Goods Inwards office, and what was known as the 'shop floor' generally, were the usual destination of all cast-offs from 'The Staff', those superior beings who worked in luxurious surroundings and benefited from ever more comfortable chairs, desks, carpets and other office necessities while the worn-out and shabby predecessors of their gleaming new items of equipment were given to us.
Thus we lived out our working days sitting on wobbly chairs (some of which were, it was rumoured, quite capable of breaking your spine when their inevitable collapse finally came) at scratched and wonky old desks.
All this life-expired junk was usually housed in the traditional 'tin-huts' found on the shop floor in many a factory and warehouse.
There's an old ERF tale which I am very happy to vouch for the truth of.
It concerns the late  Mr William Atherton Ravenscroft of Winsford (known to all as Bill) who worked in ERF's Warranty Claims department adjacent to the Goods Inward office.
Bill spent the greater part of every day stapling together various bits of paper to do (presumably) with warranty claims and the click-click-click of his stapler was part of the soundtrack to our working lives.
Inevitably, the day came that Bill's trusty stapler wore out and he put in a requisition for a new one.
This was refused on the grounds that staplers were only issued to office staff and, as Bill worked in a 'tin hut' rather than an office, he was not eligible to be issued with one.
This, I can assure you, is a perfectly true story.
ERF could teach the British Army a thing or two when it came to mind-boggling illogicality and sheer raving lunacy, and I'm sure those who have worked in other factories and warehouses could tell similar stories..
Bill solved the problem in traditional shop floor style.
He sat and read the Daily Mirror all day until someone saw sense and gave him a new stapler.
Back to that notice-board:
The idea, thought up by one of those dynamic whizz-kids who think up such things was to have the whiteboard standing by ready for 'urgent messages'.
Someone descended from on high (well, from the office block, at least) to show us how the whiteboard worked, and how it was possible, using the marker pen, to produce writing on it.
The management fondly imagined this kind of scenario:
If, say,  a replacement gearbox was needed for a distributor in Carlisle, we would take down the information, dash over to the board, and quickly and efficiently write something like

GEARBOX NEEDED FOR DISTRIBUTOR IN CARLISLE

in red ink.
This seldom, if ever, happened.
In practice someone would ring us from Sandbach and give us the details and we would make all the necessary arrangements without recourse to the board.
If you have ever worked in such a place as ERF's stores, you will have guessed what the board was actually used for.
It was used by storekeepers to write libellous and frequently obscene remarks about other storekeepers and  the management.
Occasionally a drawing would appear.
 The one of me, seen on the right of the board in this picture, is, although  far from flattering, probably just about the only one ever found on the board fit to be reproduced here.


Along the bottom of the board are lists of part numbers, distributor codes, items to be transferred from Sandbach to Middlewich and all the other  information we once thought so important but which now, to coin a phrase, 'don't amount to a hill o'beans'.
The car advert was placed there by my colleague Mark Nevitt, who is now a railway signalman, and shows his 'dream car', though what kind of car it might be I couldn't tell you..
To the left of the board, looking rather lost and lonely and a bit inadequate, is fire-extinguisher 'No 1'
If there was ever a 'No 2' we never saw it.
And scrawled across the board itself is the last thing anyone ever wrote on it (in actual fact, I wrote it myself).
The closure of ERF's Service Centre went unremarked and unnoticed by many (including, it seemed to us, many at ERF), but it was the beginning of the end for the company.
And that valedictory message, scrawled in marker pen across our almost completely unnecessary noticeboard on the day the final closure of ERF Middlewich was announced, marks the moment when we realised that things would never be the same again.

SEE ALSO: ERF SERVICE 1971-2000

WEDDING BELLS 1938


               (THIS DIARY ENTRY REPLACES  EARLIER ONES  FROM FRIDAY 4th MAY and Sunday 6th May 2012)

by Dave Roberts
Nowadays, of course, practically everyone has a wedding video made when they get married, but seventy-four years ago a filmed record of your wedding (even a small part of it) was comparatively rare.
Members of the Mid-Cheshire Amateur Cinematography Society, though, were lucky.
Not only did they have cameras and film to hand (mostly from Eachus Bros in Northwich, who were members of the society themselves), but there was also no shortage of willing volunteers to make the film.
Thus this precious record of a Middlewich wedding comes down to us through the years (by a happy accident, actually, as was the case with all the films in the Roberts Collection - they were all destined to be binned when my Uncle Bill was clearing his house in Mill Lane in the 1970s, until I asked if I could have them).
It's May 21st 1938 and Uncle Bill (Mr William G Oakes) is marrying Auntie Winnie (Miss Winifred Roberts) at St Michael & All Angels Church in Middlewich.
In the background the town goes about its daily business as usual - we can see workmen giving Hulme's grocery shop (now the Accord Clinic) a new coat of paint, but most people stop to take a look at the bride and groom and assembled guests as they arrive at the church gate.
Note the cheeky little chappie in the cap who is ready, willing and able to open car doors for everyone.
You'll also notice that the iron railings which ran along the top of the church wall were still in place in this last full year of uneasy peace.
When war came in September 1939 those railings were carted away for the war effort.
There are brief glimpses of the Town Hall and adjacent shops as the wedding cars drive up Hightown (interestingly, travelling in the same direction as present day traffic - the road was probably two-way in those days).
Half way through the film the scene suddenly changes and we find ourselves in a beautiful garden in King Street for some scenes in full colour. 
Colour film was quite rare before the war, particularly for amateur use.
This was around the time that Kodachrome was introduced and we know that Eachus Bros were stocking it right from the start.
The MCACS would be keen to try out the new film, and what could be better than a wedding as a subject?
The garden seen here stood between King Street and the alleyway which runs behind New King Street (where the Roberts family lived at the time).
By the time the next generation of Roberts' moved from Nantwich Road to 27 (later 33) King Street across the road twenty years later this lovely garden was derelict and overgrown and remained so for many years until a bungalow was built on the site in recent years.
In fact, at the time of filming, 27 King Street itself was yet to be built. Work started on its construction in 1939
After some good-natured and rather self-conscious fooling around for the camera, the wedding party move to that same alleyway at the rear of the Roberts house where the wedding cake is on view,
A very short but very poignant film, made more so by the music we chose to accompany it.
It's not, perhaps, an obvious choice for a film about a wedding, but I think the music  makes the images seem even more wistful and yearning, emphasising the fact that the scenes seen here were shot many many years ago.
Remarkably, neither the film nor the music needed to be edited in any way (except for the insertion of a music credit caption lasting one second) to make them fit together.
The way they do match, particularly during the closing title sequence is quite spooky.
It's almost as if music and film had been waiting nearly three quarters of a century to be united. 
In fact, given that the music was written in 1838, you could call that an even century.

We recommend that you watch the film on Youtube by clicking on the link below


WATCH 'WEDDING BELLS' ON YOUTUBE


Original comments:

Chris Koons What a strange place to cut the cake - in the alleyway?

Dave Roberts Yes, and just across the road from where your Mum and Dad live, too.

MIDDLEWICH CLEAN TEAM IN THE DAILY MAIL

Photo: Robin Bell/Daily Mail 2012

Here's a link to an excellent article in the Daily Mail about the work of the Middlewich Clean Team and how it has inspired similar organisations all over the country.
Well-deserved recognition for the people who have helped  transform our  town into an attractive and litter-free place to live.

THE MAIL ONLINE: THE TOWN THAT WENT TO WAR ON LITTER

SEE ALSO: MIDDLEWICH CLEAN TEAM LINK


Thursday, 3 May 2012

KING STREET 1930s

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
We're a little undecided as to whether this particular photo comes from the 1930s or the 1940s.
The car is no real clue, of course, as the Second World War meant that cars from the 1930s and earlier  were kept on the road during and after the war rather than being replaced, so we can't be sure of the date of this car's manufacture and how long it was on the road for.
The two houses on the right are numbers 44 and 46 King Street and were both built in the early 1930s by my Grandfather and 'Uncle' Harry Shore.
We still have a number of documents relating to the building of these houses and they will be finding their way onto the Middlewich Diary in the fullness of time.
Most of the present day houses and bungalows to be found on the right hand side of King Street, where the hedge is in our picture, weren't built until the early 1960s, but those on the left have an almost new look to them so were probably built in the 1920s. They could, in fact, be the reason why the picture was taken in the first place.
In the centre of the picture, next to the large tree, is the entrance to Harbutt's Field which was, many years later, to be identified as the site of a Roman fort, ensuring recognition of our town's part in the history of Roman Britain.
On the other side of the tree the road veers to the right and rises to cross the bridge over the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway line, descending on the other side towards the River Dane.
This stretch of road is relatively quiet now, and destined to become even quieter when the Middlewich by-pass is (eventually) completed.
It is, in any case, a deviation from the original line of the Roman  King Street which was originally along the line of what is now New King Street, running from the now closed off end of that Street, along the line of the hedge-row on the right to the entrance to Harbutt's field.
If you stand at that entrance today, and look back towards New King Street, the original line of the road is quite obvious.
What isn't quite so easy to make out is where the Roman road originally crossed the River Dane, but there may well have been a ford or bridge over the River quite a distance to the left of the present bridge.
The large wooden poles on the left of the picture are not telegraph poles, but components of the somewhat quaint and erratic system supplying electricity to King Street, part of which survives today, with copper wires strung high along the road and some of the wooden poles doubling as street lights (definitely not the kind of thing for Geraldine Williams' Middlewich Street Light collection, though).
During periods of high wind these copper wires would sway alarmingly, even snapping on a couple of occasions and lying in the road like thin dead snakes.
I remember phoning the Merseyside & North Wales Electricity Board (MANWEB to you) to tell them of one such occurrence, only to be treated with a lot of suspicion, as if I'd made the story up as a joke. Electrical cables flailing  all over the footpath outside my home was never one of my favourite subjects for humour.
And at one time there was a transformer slung high up on wooden poles at the entrance to Harbutt's Field and just opposite my Grandma's house.
One afternoon in the late 1960s we stood in Grandma's front garden and watched with great interest as this transformer started emitting huge blue sparks and, eventually, and spectacularly, burst into flames.
Oddly, though, Grandma's electricity supply was not affected



THE FIRST MIDDLEWICH DIARY PUB QUIZ!


At



THE BOAR'S HEAD HOTEL

KINDERTON STREET, MIDDLEWICH

on

THURSDAY 14th JUNE at 8.30pm

The Middlewich Diary celebrates its first birthday in June this year and we've decided to mark the occasion by presenting the first in a series of occasional pub quizzes.

The rounds for the first quiz will be:

1 GENERAL KNOWLEDGE
   The staple stuff of all pub quizzes. Questions could be on any subject under the sun. If your knowledge of   Middlewich is a bit sketchy, this could be your chance to gain points.


2 THE FAMOUS DEES DISCO MUSIC ROUND
    Test your knowledge of music of ALL kinds; pop, classical, easy-listening, oldies, rock, everything.
    All culled from  forty years experience in music. Another chance to stock up on points
 

3 MIDDLEWICH, PAST & PRESENT
    All about Middlewich, past and present. Nothing too difficult, though. All the answers can be found either in the local press or on the Middlewich Diary.
 

4 CALL MY BLUFF (based on the popular TV panel game)
   Always a popular round. Pit your wits against Mr Roberts, who'll be giving you three very plausible explanations of the meaning of obscure words. All you have to do is find the correct one.
 

There will also be a picture round featuring pictures of Middlewich compiled by CLIFF ASTLES.

The first quiz  will be in aid of the
WATER AID charity.




We'll also be asking people to donate suitable prizes both for the quiz and associated raffle.

Future quizzes in the series will raise money for other charities, local, national and international.

Questions and photographs used in each quiz will also feature on A Middlewich Diary after the event so that everyone can join in.

If you're interested in entering a team and/or  donating prizes please contact

PETER COX

at

gorsley@talktalk.net

SEE ALSO: GENESIS OF A CHARITY PUB QUIZ


HARRY JACKSON AT A WHISTON'S FUNCTION


by Dave Roberts
We're grateful to Stuart Warren Twigg who sent us this photograph of an unspecified celebration from many years ago (such events were always called 'functions' in those days, and the name survives to the present day in one or two local pubs who still advertise the presence of a 'function room' on the premises).
The photograph features Stuart's grandfather, Harry Jackson (seated, left), who we last saw here, and was taken some time in the 1950s (Stuart thinks it may be later - see Facebook Feedback, below - and he may well be right. There's something a bit 60s-ish about the way the men are dressed) at what we think was a 'works do' for employees of Whiston's Garage and Radio & TV shop, situated where Nantwich Road, Chester Road and Wheelock Street all meet.
In his covering 'note' Stuart also mentions Albert Atkinson who, I think, worked in Whiston's Radio & TV dept.
Certainly he later ran his own electrical repair business in a small shop adjacent to Douglas Williams & Co (where Harry Jackson was in charge) at the top end of Wheelock Street.
Albert was also a town councillor during the same period.
I think that's Albert standing up on the right of the picture
So Stuart and I are wondering if Middlewich Diary readers can put names to the other faces.
As always on the Middlewich Diary, we're also open to corrections and amendments.

Facebook feedback:

Stuart Warren Twigg  Hi Dave. A very young Albert is indeed top right, and Mr Sid Whiston is sat next to Harry. I think that the 'function' is at the old ICI club and is possibly circa 1965, which ties in with Grandad's 25 years service at Whiston's, but that, sadly, is where my knowledge ends, though my sister thinks that a Jean Royle may be the lady front and centre?

Editor's note: The ICI Club which served the ICI Works in Brooks Lane, and continued after the works closed in 1962 before becoming Pochin's Club in the early 1970s, is now home to Middlewich Community Church

Geraldine Williams That's Mrs Whiston seated next to Sid and the man in the centre of the back row is Jack Bowers who was the foreman mechanic at Whiston's. Jean Royle certainly worked at Whiston's, but I wouldn't have recognised her in this photograph. I wonder what they were celebrating? Only Sid and his wife are wearing buttonholes......

Bill Eaton The person stood behind Harry Jackson is, I'm sure, Les Bowers, who went on to open his own garage in Lach Dennis