Thursday, 3 May 2012

KING STREET 1930s

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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



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