Saturday, 30 June 2012

WATER AID SAYS THANK YOU!



WHAT and WHERE IN MIDDLEWICH? - ANSWERS

Here are the answers to the 'What and Where in Middlewich?' Round:


1: The River Wheelock aqueduct under the SUC Middlewich Branch, adjacent to the Nantwich Road aqueduct.
2: Stanthorne Mill
3: The ICI/Pochins Club (Middlewich Community Church)
4: Guard Stone at the Booth Lane end of Brooks Lane
5: The Murgatroyd's Brine Pump, Brooks Lane
6: The St Ann's Rd end of Hannah's Walk
7: Part of the River Wheelock aqueduct (see Q1)
8: Steps from Hannah's Walk to the SUC Middlewich Branch towpath
9: Wardle Bridge, spanning the junction between the Wardle Canal and the Trent & Mersey
10: Cottage in St Ann's Rd at the top of the footpath to the High School and Leisure Centre. Formerly the Derbyshire
family residence.
All photos by CLIFF ASTLES


MIDDLEWICH PAST and PRESENT ANSWERS

THE MIDDLEWICH QUIZ: MIDDLEWICH PAST and PRESENT - ANSWERS

ANSWERS

Here are the answers to the 'Middlewich Past and Present' round:

MIDDLEWICH PAST and PRESENT

1: Towards the end of April  2012 the Middlewich Diary took a last look at a Middlewich institution which had been around (under its current ownership) since the mid 19th Century. What was it?
A: Boosey's Garden Centre/Boosey's Nurseries

2: On March 17th, Middlewich lost a very popular lady who could also be regarded as 'a local institution'. She worked on the canals all her life, lived for many years at Wardle Lock Cottage, and was well-known and well-respected throughout the canal community as well as the Middlewich community. Who was she?
A: Maureen Shaw/Maureen/'Auntie Maureen'

3: In November 2011 we were taking a look at what we called 'the factory lane', where once stood the silk works of British Crepe (G H Heath), a building which had formerly housed the Anglo-Swiss (Nestle) Condensed Milk factory. Most of the area is now given over to new housing. What's the real name of that 'factory lane'?
A: Finney's Lane

4: In September of 2011 we were remembering a dramatic event which happened on Boxing Day 1962, a few miles away at Minshull Vernon. What was it?
A: A train crash 

5: According to a Middlewich Diary entry in March 2012, about 50 yards away from the Boar's Head Hotel on the 16th December 1931, Councillor J P Walton of the Cheshire County Council performed the opening ceremony of what structure?
A: The new Town Bridge

6: In November last year what did we describe as:
...one of the best in the area. It was a comfortable and enjoyable place to be, and it's good to know that the building survives externally much as it has been since 1920, and that the name lives on as a slightly unusual name for a Chinese Restaurant?
A: The Alhambra Cinema

7: Not  too long ago we had to say goodbye to yet another of those well-loved Middlewich institutions. Norman Macklin was well-known and well-respected around the town, as his father John had been before him.
What position of responsibility did Norman's father John hold? One of Norman's life-long interests will provide a clue, and John Macklin's place of work has been pictured in the Middlewich Diary several times at various different times in its history.
Was he:
A Council Chairman
B Bank Manager, or
C Station Master?
A: C Station Master

8: As recently as June 5th we featured a piece on the launching ceremony of Middlewich Narrowboats' new boat Oak. Who performed that ceremony?
A: Congleton MP Fiona Bruce

9: On the 10th March 2012, courtesy of Carole Hughes, we featured a newspaper photo of what was probably the last 'baggin' time' at the only open pan salt works in Middlewich at that time (1966) not owned by Henry Seddon. What was the name of that works?
A: Murgatroyd's (Salt & Chemical Works)

10: In August 2011 the Middlewich Diary featured a colour slide of a local councillor who was the last Chairman of Middlewich UDC in 1973, and also the first Mayor of Middlewich in 1974.
Was he:
A Frank Bailey
B Derek Millington
C Fred Stallard?
A: A Frank Bailey

WHAT and WHERE IN MIDDLEWICH 


Friday, 29 June 2012

THE THOMAS CLAYTON NB 'SPEY' IN MIDDLEWICH


A constant source of interest and enjoyment for both Middlewichians and visitors alike is the canal network which threads its way through the town.
In among the endless procession of pleasure boats, thousands of which pass through the town every year, are  historic boats, some of which have been visiting Middlewich for many many years both in working days and in the preservation era.
Here's one of this historic fleet, pictured by Bill Armsden as she makes her way round that curious 'dog leg' between the top and middle Brooks Lane locks where the Trent & Mersey makes an abrupt left turn to make its way towards the Town Bridge on its way to Northwich.
Strangely there is not as much infomation on the NB Spey on the internet as you might think (there's a link below to one of the more informative sites) but we do know that she was built in 1937 when the company had begun to specialise in the carriage of liquid cargoes such as oil and tar.
This, of course, explains the boat's flat deck.
It was a sister boat of the Spey, the NB Tay, which was used to take Maureen Shaw on her final ,journey from Wardle Lock to the Town Wharf earlier this year.


NB SPEY

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

THE MIDDLEWICH QUIZ: MIDDLEWICH PAST & PRESENT

Here are the questions on 'Middlewich Past and Present' used for the first Middlewich Diary Quiz at the Boar's Head recently.

The questions are all based on the Middlewich Diary itself and the answers can be found herein.

Those of you who found Cliff's picture round a little daunting may fare better with these questions; on the night the lowest scoring team in this round gained 6 points out of 10, two teams gained 7 out of 10 and no fewer than four teams gained 9 out of 10.

If you were at the quiz, you'll realise that a couple of these questions have been slightly paraphrased.

A link to the answers can be found below

MIDDLEWICH PAST and PRESENT


1: Towards the end of April  2012 the Middlewich Diary took a last look at a Middlewich institution which had been around (under its current ownership) since the mid 19th Century. What was it?

2: On March 17th, Middlewich lost a very popular lady who could also be regarded as 'a local institution'. She worked on the canals all her life, lived for many years at Wardle Lock Cottage, and was well-known and well-respected throughout the canal community as well as the Middlewich community. Who was she?

3: In November 2011 we were taking a look at what we called 'the factory lane', where once stood the silk works of British Crepe (G H Heath), a building which had formerly housed the Anglo-Swiss (Nestle) Condensed Milk factory. Most of the area is now given over to new housing. What's the real name of that 'factory lane'?

4: In September of 2011 we were remembering a dramatic event which happened on Boxing Day 1962, a few miles away at Minshull Vernon. What was it?

5: According to a Middlewich Diary entry in March 2012, about 50 yards away from the Boar's Head Hotel on the 16th December 1931, Councillor J P Walton of the Cheshire County Council performed the opening ceremony of what structure?

6: In November last year what did we describe as:
...one of the best in the area. It was a comfortable and enjoyable place to be, and it's good to know that the building survives externally much as it has been since 1920, and that the name lives on as a slightly unusual name for a Chinese Restaurant?


7: Not  too long ago we had to say goodbye to yet another of those well-loved Middlewich institutions. Norman Macklin was well-known and well-respected around the town, as his father John had been before him.
What position of responsibility did Norman's father John hold? One of Norman's life-long interests will provide a clue, and John Macklin's place of work has been pictured in the Middlewich Diary several times at various different times in its history.
Was he:
A Council Chairman
B Bank Manager, or
C Station Master?

8: As recently as June 5th we featured a piece on the launching ceremony of Middlewich Narrowboats' new boat Oak. Who performed that ceremony?

9: On the 10th March 2012, courtesy of Carole Hughes, we featured a newspaper photo of what was probably the last 'baggin' time' at the only open pan salt works in Middlewich at that time (1966) not owned by Henry Seddon. What was the name of that works?

10: In August 2011 the Middlewich Diary featured a colour slide of a local councillor who was the last Chairman of Middlewich UDC in 1973, and also the first Mayor of Middlewich in 1974.
Was he:
A Frank Bailey
B Derek Millington
C Fred Stallard?

ANSWERS








BARCLAY HOUSE, SOUTHWAY 2012


A crying shame. Paul Greenwood's photograph shows us Barclay House on the lower part of Southway, close to the shops on the approach to the Tesco Supermarket.
This once beautiful house and garden has fallen victim to planning blight, as have all the properties between Southway and Darlington Street, pending a decision by Tesco on what they plan to do with their existing store and the land they have acquired for its enlargement.
Barclay House is a particularly sad loss. It's a true Victorian gem retaining, as the estate agents would say, many original features including beautiful stained glass in the doorway, now hidden away behind ugly steel shutters designed to keep vandals  away.
That 'To Let' sign by the way, does not refer to Barclay House, but to a 'Deli & Sandwich Bar' - presumably the one in Wheelock Street owned by Johnny McAlinden until his recent untimely death,
It's not clear whether Barclay House will be available to let, although other property in the area has been, indicating that an announcement by Tesco on what they propose to do with the land may not be imminent.

Facebook Feedback:
Editor's Note: The plight of poor old Barclay House struck a chord with many. It seems to have been everyone's dream house (including mine) over the years and to see it in such reduced circumstances is like seeing an old friend in trouble. Below is the feedback generated by the Facebook link to this entry:

Kath Walklate I used to look at that house over 58 years ago and wish I lived in it

Dave Roberts Yes. I've always loved the look of it, and I know many others have too. It's such a pity to see it as it is now.

Kath Walklate We used to come out of the pictures, which cost ninepence, and get a sixpenny mixed (chips and peas) and walk up 'picture alley'.

Geraldine Williams And everyone used to call at the little sweet shop just to the right of Southway to stock up before the film started! Was the proprietor a Mrs Atkinson?

Kath Walklate I'm not sure, Geraldine. I only recall Torchy. You didn't dare make a noise or he would throw you out!

Geraldine Williams I didn't know about Torchy, but I think he was mentioned in a Diary entry about Southway and how the kids tried to get into the cinema by the rear door and so avoid paying. He sounds like quite a character! Was he from Middlewich, and does anyone know his real name?

Kath Walklate I'll ask my older sister. She might know.

Susan Nugent I remember little Nora and her husband Arthur living in Barclay House. She might have been small, but you never crossed her! She was a good laugh when she worked at the Lily Works!

Geraldine Williams Yes, I remember Little Nora. I wonder what the history of the house is? You'd assume it was originally built for the Bank Manager at Barclays, but the name might just be a coincidence.

Gemma Blower I cannot believe you've featured this! I went past the other day and saw this house for the first time, and it's bugging me who owned it and why they're not doing anything with it. It's a beautiful house!

Wendy Johnson We went in one day when we were considering buying a choccy labrador. A lovely old house. What a shame it will be bulldozed to make way for Tesco!

Rachel Humphreys I totally agree, Wendy. Such a shame. And I bet the owners weren't so happy about the location of the current Tesco supermarket when it was first built. A beautiful house.

Michelle Woodcock I have always loved that house. A proper double-fronted dolls house! It's a disgrace to bulldoze such a beauty.




Tuesday, 26 June 2012

WHAT and WHERE IN MIDDLEWICH by Cliff Astles

As promised, here, for the benefit of those who couldn't make it to our first Middlewich Diary Quiz, is the picture round, kindly compiled for us by Cliff Astles from his own photo collection.
Everything here can be found within the environs of Middlewich (although one picture may just be outside the actual Town Council boundary).
To ensure that the  round wasn't too difficult, I asked Cliff not to tell me the answers when he first supplied the pictures, but to let me have a go myself.
Thankfully, I got them all right.

Dave Roberts,
Editor.

ANSWERS


On the 26th June 2011 we were looking at the building of Middlewich's new police station

MUSIC IN MIDDLEWICH: STEVEN DOYLE

Photo courtesy of Steven Doyle
Here's a link to the website of locally based singer/songwriter Steven Doyle..

We'll bring you news of Steven's local gigs when we receive it

Monday, 25 June 2012

EARL'S BUILDERS YARD, KINDERTON STREET

Photograph courtesy of Joan Smith
by Dave Roberts

We're grateful once again to Bill Eaton for sending us another pair of photographs from the collection of the late Frank Smith of Ravenscroft, reproduced here by courtesy of his wife, Joan.
During our previous Middlewich Diary excursions to Kinderton Street we've occasionally been able to glance briefly at this group of buildings at the junction of Kinderton Street and King Street, just up the road from the Boar's Head Hotel:

EARL'S BUILDERS

But Frank has managed to tease me with this photo. That huge wooden building which dominates the picture, as it dominated Kinderton Street at the time, is seen in  Frank's photo from a very unusual angle.
The brick building on the left looks like an ordinary house here (although it's obvious from the whitewash on the left hand wall that part of the building has recently been demolished), but it's actually Earl's distinctive office. The unusual curved front window, as seen in our earlier entry, faces away from the camera on the other side of the building.
The building in the distance on the extreme left seems maddeningly familiar.
In fact, it's the Catholic School (now the church's community centre), a few yards away down King Street  where that well known thoroughfare meets New King Street.
The ventilator on the roof, typical of so many Victorian schools, is the giveaway.
It will be noted that, by this time (the early 1970s), Chris Earl's name was  on the building, and obviously had been for quite a few years, although the redoubtable Ernie Earl had not been forgotten.
He certainly was still in the mind of  Earl's most loyal  employee, Billy 'Cocky' Wilkinson (aka 'Billy Wilk') who lived a short distance away in Seabank and regaled me night after night in the Kings Arms with tales of the doings of the Earls while blowing evil-smelling clouds of pipe tobacco over me and everyone else within reach.
We had many a Condor moment together.
Billy was a steadfast employee of the Earls, while, at the same time, remaining firmly of the opinion that they were all 'rum buggers'.
(Billy thought, even then, that I was also  a 'rum bugger', and it's quite likely that subsequent events have proved him right.)

But the real revelation comes in the note which Bill Eaton has supplied with these photographs:

'Frank's notes say the big wooden building, prior to being Ernie Earl's workshop, was a drill hall. 
It's possible that local men trained there before and during the Second World War.'

Now there's something I didn't know. Frank's second picture (below), shows what an extraordinary building that old drill hall had become just before its final demise.

I also have a sneaking suspicion that the second photo is from a later date than the first, shows the old drill hall from the opposite direction, and that the modern building on the left is the building now enjoying  great popularity as the 'Factory Shop'.

Although I am, as always, open to correction.

Many thanks to Bill Eaton and Joan Smith for letting us see these photos.

Photograph courtesy of Joan Smith

There was no diary entry for the 25th June 2011 but the day before, on June 24th,
we featured this celebrated Middlewich Diary entry, instigated by Sharon Mather and bringing about our first in-depth investigation. As a result, there's a hairdressers shop in Wheeelock Street which will (to us, anyway) be forever known as SHARON'S CAFE:

Friday, 22 June 2012

THE TURNOVER BRIDGE

Salt Town Productions
by Dave Roberts


I suppose if you're not familiar with this local landmark, you might think that the 'turnover bridge' is some kind of mechanical structure, like a swing bridge or a transporter bridge, designed to move traffic or canal boats from one place to another in a Victorian Engineering Marvel sort of way.
But no, the 'turnover' bridge' gets its name very simply from the fact that the road from Middlewich to Sandbach switches from the right hand side of the Trent & Mersey  Canal to the left at this point.
It's real, official, name is 'Tetton Bridge' and it lies in the middle of what was once an industrialised area.
From the 1770s until the 1960s it was just another of those 'hump-backed' canal bridges seen all over the area (although, being on a main road, it didn't have much of a 'hump'), until it was replaced by a more modern structure during a road improvement scheme.
Or was it?
Certainly it looks like a modern structure, particularly from the 'Middlewich' end. In fact, when you stand underneath it and look towards Middlewich, it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Town Bridge:
Looking at  the 'Sandbach' side of the bridge , however, it's plain that part of the structure, at least, has its origins in a traditional canal bridge:

This side of Tetton Bridge has the gracefully curved arch seen on many bridges in the area, albeit clad in ugly concrete. In front of the arch is one of the brine pipelines which criss-cross the area like a spider's web.
So is Tetton Bridge ancient or modern?
There's a clue in this notice, to be found on the 'Middlewich' side:

The 'sudden change in bridge profile' is a reference to the point where the new part of the bridge meets the old:
..and the sweeping arch of the old bridge is very evident. Also evident on the left is  damage to the brickwork where something has dealt the old bridge a severe blow.

So the 'turnover bridge' is actually an interesting amalgam of old and new.
The old bridge was never actually demolished, merely cocooned by the new bridge and hidden away from all except canal users.
From the road above, there is no hint of the interesting bodge-up which lies beneath:

Notice the sign on the right pointing the way down Tetton Lane to Warmingham where the brine for making Middlewich salt comes from.
Beyond the hedge in the background lies the site of Murgatroyd's Chemical Works (most recently operated by Brenntag, who  still have a presence at the Middlewich end of the site, including a Combined Heat and Power Station).
The area will change out of all recognition one glorious day when the Middlewich by-pass is completed and joins the Sandbach road at a point somewhere near the top of this photograph.

All the photographs in this entry, by the way, were taken on Wednesday 20th June 2012, one of the few warm and sunny days in  the wettest June in a hundred years.

Facebook Feedback


Paul Greenwood Fascinating entry, Dave. I've been going back and to over that bridge most days for the last thirty-four years, and never knew its secrets.

Geraldine Williams I can remember the old Turnover Bridge, but wonder what happened to the Middlewich-Sandbach traffic during the modifications? Must have been jolly if it was all diverted through Warmingham!

Dave Roberts I was wondering that, too, Geraldine. Possibly they  built the new part of  the bridge and diverted traffic over it while they were constructing the new roadway over the top of the old bridge?

Does anyone remember? -Ed








Tuesday, 19 June 2012

CHESHIRE BUILDING SOCIETY and POOLE ALCOCK & CO 1987

Here's another one of Carole Hughes' collection from 1987 which we're featuring this year, twenty-five years after it was taken by Carole's friend, Diane Parr.
The basic shape of the town hasn't altered a lot in those twenty-five years, but the fascination is in the way the shops and buildings have changed owners and  uses.
This pair is a case in point.
Go up to the 'toppender' Wheelock Street today and in place of the Cheshire Building Society and Poole Alcock & Co, Solicitors, you'll find, on the left, a charity shop belonging to St Luke's Hospice and, on the right, empty premises recently vacated by Cakes By Coulson (now known as 'Le Pattisier').
The sight of these two businesses cheek by jowl all those years ago will have great ironic significance for some.
There are quite a few who made the journey to the top end of town to 'see about a mortgage' and again a few years later 'to see about a divorce'.
The Cheshire Building Society still has a presence in Middlewich, further down Wheelock Street in what was once the MANWEB electricity showroom.
Poole Alcock & Co obviously want no one to be in any doubt as to the ownership of their office, and have their name emblazoned on the front no less than three times (it might even have been featured a fourth time, in the out of shot top window, but we'll probably never know).
Poole Alcock & Co have been in business for 120 years, and still retain their name (unlike other local solicitors who spun themselves off into all kinds of different permutations of names).
There are Poole Alcock offices in Chester, Crewe, Congleton, Nantwich, Northwich. Alsager and Sandbach but, like so many branches of so many other firms, the Middlewich branch has gone.
In fact there probably isn't a single  solicitor practising in our town any more. Can anyone confirm this?

Facebook Feedback:

Geraldine Williams In a previous life these properties included Harry Dale's Decorator's Shop and Bertie Wilkinson's Solicitor's Office.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

THE JEWEL IN OUR CROWN: THE CORONATION CELEBRATIONS 1937

A fascinating record of the way Middlewich celebrated the Coronation of King George VI in 1937.

To celebrate the Queen's Jubilee in June 2012, we've restored the film's titles and set it to music, at the same time dedicating it to The People of Middlewich, Past, Present ...and Future

WATCH IT ON YOUTUBE


MIDDLEWICH FAB FESTIVAL 2012


THE MIDDLEWICH FAB FESTIVAL RETURNS ONCE MORE TO BRING A SPLASH OF COLOUR
AND EXCITEMENT TO THE TOWN.
LET'S HOPE THE WEATHER IS KIND...




THE FESTIVAL GUIDE IS  ON SALE AT £1
AND CAN BE OBTAINED FROM:


Chisholm's Newsagents, Middlewich British Legion, Middlewich Library, Middlewich Town Council offices, and all FAB fringe venues:


The Big Lock, The Boar's Head Hotel, The Cheshire Cheese, The Kings Lock, The Narrowboat, The White Bear, The White Horse and The Vaults


GO TO THE FESTIVAL'S WEBSITE FOR DETAILS OF THE FESTIVAL.


PRESENTING.....

Middlewich Town Council/Middlewich FAB Festival


Middlewich Town Council/Middlewich FAB Festival



Details of other performers booked for this year  are available from the festival's website


(ARCHIVED 18/6/2012)

NOW & THEN - LOWER STREET and ST MICHAEL'S WAY

When we first published an old late-60s black & white view of the town centre, seen from the Town Bridge in this MD Entry, quite a few people were puzzled and 'unable to get their bearings' (largely, as pointed out by Paul Greenwood, because the church itself wasn't in the picture to act as a landmark).
So, as promised, here's that view again, together with a 2012 view taken from a similar vantage point.
We can see that, like so many areas of Middlewich, the churchyard has been taken over by trees, and there are many more of them now than there were in 1969. The Town Hall would have been behind that clump of trees.
The curve of Lower Street to the left is still evident, although the only part of that road remaining is a short stub now used as a bus layby.
St Michael's Way goes off to the right of this on a fairly straight alignment before curving off towards the last remaining segment of Pepper Street and then sweeping around to the left to join Nantwich Road close to the old Red Lion..
In between the two - i.e. the remains of Lower Street and  St Michael's Way, are traffic islands and a 'taxi rank' which, as we mentioned here, in another Now & Then feature,does not seem ever to have been used as such.
The black square in the top right hand corner of the modern view, by the way, is part of one of the traffic signals controlling traffic on the Town Bridge.
We had to wait a long time to get the modern view without it being full of cars and trucks and, ironically, in the end managed to take a picture with even fewer vehicles in it than the 1969 one.
 This, it hardly needs to be pointed out, is very far from typical.
You can click on the photos for a closer view.

Friday, 15 June 2012

FAB FESTIVAL 2012: THE BIG STORY LABYRINTH

Here's something intriguing for the Middlewich FAB Festival weekend 2012, provided by St Michael & All Angels Church. That poster is very striking indeed.
The labyrinth has been put together by all the schools and churches in the town working together.





(ARCHIVED 18/6/2012)

THE FIRST MIDDLEWICH DIARY PUB QUIZ



THURSDAY 14th JUNE
 at THE BOAR'S HEAD, MIDDLEWICH!

A fun evening in aid of WATER AID, the charity which aims to provide clean and drinkable water for people all over the world. A basic human right, which most of us take for granted.

The evening took the form of a traditional pub quiz, with the accent on fun and enjoyment, and raised  £75 for WATER AID


MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO CAME ALONG AND HAD A VERY ENJOYABLE EVENING


AND ALSO MANY THANKS TO:

LIZ & PAT McGUINNESS for donating bottles of wine as prizes,  for providing refreshments and, of course, for hosting the evening.

HANNAH COX for donating prizes.

PETER COX for donating prizes  helping with administration, and being the scorer on the night.

BALTI SPICE TAKEAWAY for donating prizes (Set meal for two and set meal for one).

CYNTHIA BEEVERS for donating prizes.

PAUL STEVENS for his cash donation.

DANNY SMITH for his cash donation.

CLIFF ASTLES for compiling the picture round from his own collection of Middlewich photos..

LYNNE HARDY for help with administration and for suggesting the charity we worked for on the night.

THE BLOKE who pointed out that Gladys Knight & the Pips were not a 'girl group' because The Pips were all men. Obviously a pub quiz regular.

Many thanks also to everyone who  told us they were turning up on the night, and also to everyone who  had the courtesy to tell us they weren't  able to make it.

The Results:

FIRST:  THE WANNABEES 45/60 points
SECOND: THE MAJESTIC FOUR 43/60 points
THIRD: THE BOAR'S HEAD QUIZ ISN'T THE SAME WITHOUT YOU DAVE! 42/60
FOURTH: EL RASSO!! 36/60
FIFTH: THE TEAM WITH NO NAME 33/60
SIXTH: CHESHIRE FOLK 32/60
SEVENTH: BJ ALLSTARS 24/60



How well do you know Middlewich? 

Find out here as we bring you the
 rounds from the quiz


KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE MIDDLEWICH
DIARY FOR NEWS OF OUR NEXT
MIDDLEWICH DIARY QUIZ!
(ARCHIVED 18/6/2012)

Monday, 11 June 2012

THE DECORATED GAS OFFICE

A still from the MCACS/STP Film 'Coronation Celebrations 1937'
Here's a still from the opening sequence of the film 'Coronation Celebrations 1937' which we're currently preparing for its debut on Youtube.
It's Coronation Day 1937 and the whole of Middlewich is bedecked with flags and bunting to celebrate the occasion.
Nothing is left out - not even the humble Gas Office in Lower Street which, 1937 being rather too early for the North-Western Gas Board, we assume was still in the hands of the Middlewich Gaslight & Coke Company.
The gasworks itself was on the other side of the Trent & Mersey Canal and River Croco and the gas itself was pumped into the town via the pipe-bridge we saw here which made landfall on the Middlewich side behind this office.
Notice, to the left, the elaborate telegraph pole, one of many which adorned the town all those years ago, and the clouds of black smoke which were emanating from the chimneys of Henry Seddon's Pepper Street works.
Coronation or no Coronation the salt works kept on going...

SEE ALSO: CHESTER ROAD CORONATION ARCH 1937
                    THE JEWEL IN OUR CROWN

Sunday, 10 June 2012

ONE YEAR, AND 500 POSTS LATER...


Raise a glass (or two) to celebrate The Middlewich Diary's first birthday, for it was exactly a year ago today, on June 10th 2011, that the 'proper' Middlewich Diary came into being.
Quite probably more by luck than judgment, this auspicious occasion also coincides with our 500th Diary Entry.
And, as we're very fond of saying, we haven't even started yet...
Let's take a look at our very first entry (or posting, to use the official term):



(500)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

LOWER STREET AND THE TOWN HALL, LATE 1960s

If you own the copyright on this image, please let us know
From the Paul Hough collection comes this view of Lower Street and Middlewich Town Hall in the late 1960s .
We featured a very similar colour view from 1969 in this Middlewich Diary entry
It's interesting to note that the road alignment at this end of what was to become St Michael's Way is not too different in the photo from the way things are in the present day, with the two traffic lanes nearest the camera guiding people to (from right to left) Holmes Chapel and Sandbach. The road markings are difficult to make out due to the pounding they've received from the heavy traffic which then, as now, afflicted Middlewich. We shouldn't be misled, either, by the fact that there are only three cars on view here. The photo was probably taken very early in the morning.
The original alignment of Lower Street, as it curves away to the left beyond the Town Hall can, as we've mentioned before, still be discerned in the bus lay-by next to the present day amphitheatre in the Bullring.
St Michael's Way was built on an alignment which runs off  through the site of the buildings to the right of Harold Woodbine's (the white building), including Foster's Bike Shop ( With the advertisement hoarding on its facing wall).

(499)


One year ago, on the 9th June 2011, we were standing at the bottom of Dierden's Terrace and looking, as it happens, in the opposite direction, from The Bullring towards the Town Bridge.

This was the final entry in our original Middlewich Diary on the Salt Town Site. Can it really only have been one year ago?




Tuesday, 5 June 2012

MIDDLEWICH NARROWBOATS' 'OAK' LAUNCHED BY FIONA BRUCE

Frst published 2nd June 2012. Re-published 5th June with an improved definition photo

The canal boat hire industry is alive and well in our town, and Middlewich Narrowboats, the firm which has links back to the halcyon days of canal carrying, as explained here, is under new management and obviously in the hands of people with a lot of enthusiasm for the company and its traditions, as well as for the country's canal network, past and present..
Recently the company launched a new hire boat, named Oak, following the tradition of naming boats after types of tree.
The official launch ceremony was performed by Congleton MP Fiona Bruce who has taken a great interest in Middlewich since her election.
Cliff's photograph shows the assembled company celebrating the birth of Oak.


SEE ALSO: MIDDLEWICH NARROWBOATS
                    CLIFF ASTLES PHOTO PAGE

MIDDLEWICH'S JUBILEE BEACON


The familiar shape of St Michael & All Angels Church is seen against a velvet blue sky on the evening of Jubilee Day, June 4th 2012, as Middlewich's Jubilee Beacon joins thousands of others to celebrate 60 years of the Queen's reign.
The scene is pictured for us by Nicola Holbrook.
The organisation of the beacon and its lighting was in the always capable hands of Stephen Bailey
The beacon on top of our church tower was just one of over 4,200 lit all over the country from 10pm on Jubilee Day, with the last one being lit by Her Majesty the Queen herself at Buckingham Palace.


SEE ALSO: JUBILEE BONFIRES - CLIFF ASTLES
                    JIM MOORES' VIDEO OF THE ACTUAL BEACON LIGHTING



One year ago, on the 5th June 2011, the Middlewich Diary section of the Salt Town Site was looking at an early 1970s shot of our town's uncompleted, unlovely, and unloved 'Piazza' in the Bullring (predecessor to the much more attractive 'amphitheatre'), complete with Middlewich legend George Robinson stealing into shot on the left



Monday, 4 June 2012

JUBILEE BEACONS- JUNE 4th 2012 by CLIFF ASTLES


On the evening of 4th June 2012, as the nation celebrated The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Cliff Astles was out with his camera on top of the old ICI lime beds in Middlewich looking out towards the surrounding hills.
Those thin pin-pricks of orange light on the skyline in Cliff's superb panorama are beacons lit to celebrate the occasion on the hills near to far away towns and villages.

Here's the explanatory note as supplied by Cliff himself:

Stockport is on the left, Macclesfield and Congleton in the centre, and Biddulph to the right.
If you look closely you can see SEVEN bonfires lit on the Pennines behind these Cheshire (and Staffordshire) towns. Several of these places also staged firework displays to accompany the fires.
The photograph was taken between 10 and 10.30pm.
A historic sight, and something we won't see again for a long time.
The first bonfire to be seen was the one on Mow Cop near Biddulph (see below)
Cliff Astles

Mow Cop seen from Middlewich - 4th June 2012
Editor's note: Cliff refers to these beacons as 'bonfires', although some of them at least - like the Middlewich Beacon, and the one on Mow Cop - were actually gas-fired flames. If anyone can enlighten us as to which were beacons and which traditional bonfires, we'd be very grateful.




...on the 4th June 2011, far less romantically, the Salt Town Site's 'Middlewich Diary' section was taking the first of several looks over the last year at Southway - in this case as it was in the early 1970s, before the coming of the Gateway Supermarket.
The Middlewich Diary proper was, by now, less than a week away...




Saturday, 2 June 2012

WHIPPET RACING IN MIDDLEWICH


We're taking a back seat on this one, never having heard of the Middlewich & District Pedigree Whippet Racing Club, and we're more than happy to hand over to regular Middlewich Diary contributor Mike Jennings who says:


Hi Dave
I found this car sticker in my cupboard. It is from the late 1970s. 

I know very little about The Middlewich & District Pedigree Whippet Racing Club.

It sounds a grand organisation to belong to and I can see in my minds eye the attire needed to belong to the club!
I wonder where the race track was?
At the back of my mind I am sure they ran on Station Field and used a bicycle placed upside down with someone winding the peddles furiously pulling a ball of rags (Hare) attached to a rope???
There must be Ex Club members still out there or maybe it still exists?

Yours not wearing a flat cap

Mike

- So does anyone remember this club? Does it still exist? It's over to you...

Facebook feedback

Geraldine Williams Mike was quite correct. It did start off at Station Field with the bike, etc. as he describes. I think it originated as part of Dennis' fund-raising (Ahem!) for a new swimming pool for Middlewich.

Andy Kendrick  We used to race on Dennis White's field for a few seasons, then moved to Sutton Lane. My Dad had five whippets; two came second in the United Kingdom Open.
Brill times - proper traps and lures racing on a straight, but winners had to be handicapped - i.e. put back a few lengths if they won the week before.
We had a pedigree whippet by the name of Blue Smoke - i.e. our Smokey classic racing dog. She was lovely, with fawn legs and a slatey blue coat, hence the name.
She was so good that crossed lurchers could not beat her.
Another point to mention: After we raced on Dennis White's and Sutton Lane we had the privilege of holding the UK Open, and this was held on RHM's sports field (no doubt because of the ready supply of beer.
The new venue was an indication of how many attendees with dogs were turning up and how the sport had grown in Middlewich at that time.
I remember people from Cumbria, West Kirby and Birmingham attending the event, among others.
It was very good.
The lure was on a spindle powered by a car battery and it moved quite fast (it had to!).
The traps were controlled by a chap called Rolly Banks, who came from Audlem. He was a real character and wore a deerstalker, even in 70 degrees heat.
Real class!
It was a big deal at the time. We reared these dogs to hunt rabbits in the 1970s and there was many a pensioner at the time grateful for an inexpensive feed. They would come to us and asking when they could have more.
Roasted and stewed one rabbit could provide three meals, and they always wanted more.
The dogs had a lot of potential, and when the racing came along their energy was put into road work.
My Dad went miles with us, following the dogs around Bradwall, Sproston and all the villages around Middlewich.
The hunt was then turned to lamping to get some pocket money. We used rifles then - the dogs were a back-up.
I must point out to anyone concerned about animal welfare that things were difficult at the time.
This was also another way of controlling the rabbit population and limiting crop damage. The farmers loved us most of the time.
This was the 1970s and things were hard sometimes.
Then along came the whippet racing and our dogs had a chance to shine.
And that's the story of how whippet racing started in Middlewich.
My Dad must have pictures somewhere. If I manage to find them, I'll post them.
I'm glad someone remembered the whippet racing, as it was a great Sunday afternoon out.

- Many thanks to Andy for this fascinating insight in what seems to have been quite a major sport in Middlewich - Ed.


...and here are some more memories, this time from...


Wendy Sproston I'm sure my Mum and Dad went to the RHM club once for the whippet racing.
We used to race whippets from when I was about three years old until I was in my late teens.
We went all over the country, but mainly the Midlands.
I used to love being the 'lure girl' - taking it back up to the traps at the end of each race for pocket money.
It kept you fit, I can tell you!
My dog was a racing champion. Her race name was Amazing Flight but at home we called her Stella.
We had so many dogs as I was growing up and, although they were racers, they were always my pets too.
Stella always went to bed with me.
It was such a great sport to be involved with, and the dogs loved it.
They always knew where we were, and would get excited as we drove into whichever racing venue we were going to.




On June 2nd 2011 the Salt Town Site's 'Middlewich Diary' pages were featuring the enigmatic 'SNJ' sign which many a frustrated motorist, stuck in one of the endless Holmes Chapel Road traffic jams, may have seen while gridlocked on the 'station bridge'. 

How many of those motorists realise that 'SNJ', and the railway it's associated with, could be part of the solution to those endless hold-ups?