Saturday, 5 January 2013

MORETON'S CORNER - LATE 1960s

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by Dave Roberts

Since the Middlewich Diary began we've tried hard to resist the rose-tinted view of some who like to think that Middlewich was once a picturesque and attractive little town which has been 'ruined by progress'. We've been at pains to point out that the town is more attractive now than it was forty years ago and try not to wallow in nostalgia too much.

Having said all that, it's hard not to get nostalgic about 'old Middlewich' when you see a photograph like this one, although the fact that it's in black and white probably makes it look rather older than it actually is.
It was taken in the late 1960s and shows that most-lamented of all the town's old buildings, Moreton's farmhouse on the corner of King Street and Kinderton Street in its final days.
If you stand in the same spot today you can see right down into the town centre with the Parish Church dominating the view and providing a very pleasant first impression of the town for motorists coming down from Junction 18 of the M6.
Kinderton Street now runs down from the Holmes Chapel Road, or Station, Bridge in a gentle curve, contrasting with the old alignment which had a much sharper bend at the bottom end - in this photo it almost looks like an abrupt turn to the right.
Nearly everything in this picture has  disappeared, to be replaced by the new, wider Kinderton Street which connects with St Michael's Way at the Town Bridge.
Moreton's farmhouse stood more or less where the traffic island at the end of King Street now is and I was privileged, as a friend of William and Mary Moreton, to visit it many times from 1959 onwards, as we lived a short distance away down King Street.
It was a typical Cheshire farmhouse, full of ancient oak furniture and, in particular, many grandfather clocks (there was said to be one in every room).
Pool Head farmhouse, to give it its official name, was built to the same pattern as many such farmhouses, in an 'L' shape, with two distinct parts at right angles to each other. The part nearest the camera and running alongside the end of King Street would originally have housed the farm's dairy.
The patch of lighter brickwork on the lower left of the building is evidence of a catastrophe from a few years earlier when a heavy lorry crashed into the house, fortunately, as far as I know, without injury to either the driver or the residents of the house.
Just above this you can just make out a small yellow AA sign which points the way to Northwich; the preferred route these days is via Croxton Lane - when its not flooded...
This modest little sign was later replaced (or possibly just obscured) by a large and ugly green sign more suitable for the motorway age. This can be seen here.
Next to the farmhouse on the way down the bank is a chip shop which is the subject of one of those old Middlewich legends concerning the lady proprietress who, it is claimed, once lost her wig in the fat fryer.
There's no way of knowing whether this actually happened or not, but I do know that at one time they served the finest fish in the town - better even, if it can be believed, than Etta Mault's.
In 1969 a friend and I would buy fish and chips from this shop and then wander up King Street to no 33 to watch the earliest showings of  Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Further down Kinderton Street are Whittaker's and Costello's shops and several small houses, all now a distant memory.
Out of shot to the right was the former entrance to Middlewich Station yard, at that time home to Martin's Coaches, and the site for many years of a huge advertising hoarding which, if someone tried to erect it now, would cause hands to be thrown up in horror.
This hoarding can be seen on the 1970 photo of the farmhouse (link below) which we featured early in the life of the Middlewich Diary. There was another of these hoardings on King Street, next to the farmhouse, for the benefit of traffic heading over the Station Bridge towards Middlewich town centre..
The walls alongside the 'Kinderton Street' part of the farmhouse were made of blue engineering brick, and also extended along King Street past the Mill pond which gave the farm its name. I always wondered if the LNW Railway, which built the station, also built these walls. They are exactly the same as those used on the parapets of the Station Bridge. The railway did have an interest in the Mill pond, as it supplied water for its water tower at the station.
To the left of the picture is a confused jumble of old buildings in Seabank* and Lewin Street, most of which have now disappeared.
Also on the left, the small patch of white between the brick wall and the lamp-post is part of what is now the Kinderton Hotel.
Those lamp-posts, by the way, served Middlewich well for many years, even though almost every lamp in the town gave off a yellow sodium glow which made everything look quite ghastly, particularly in winter.
They were all painted in the official MUDC colour of dark green, and panic ensued when someone started a rumour that they were all going to be painted orange to fit in with the council's new 'trendy' image for the 1970s.
Now who on earth would  start a rumour like that?

*We originally had this, for some inexplicable reason - advancing age? - as 'Southway' until it was spotted by Geraldine 'Eagle Eye' Williams. Hence the comments below!

SEE ALSO: MORETON'S FARMOUSE 1970
                    MORETON'S FARMHOUSE 1972

6 comments:

  1. What a lovely sight! I know Mary Moreton as was too and as a new comer to the town of a mere 20 years it's lovely to visulise the house that she talks of so lovingly and regularly.
    It's amazing how the view of St Michael's tower is completely restricted. it is so dominant in these times....

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  2. GERALDINE WILLIAMS5 January 2017 at 17:44

    Southway or SeaBank?

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  3. GERALDINE WILLIAMS6 January 2017 at 12:53

    Isobel Moreton setup a mini farm shop at the back door of the farm selling eggs, homegrown veg in season and 'to die for' boiled beetroot which sold out like hot cakes. Lovely family.

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  4. Yes, we still bought eggs from Isobel right up until just before she died. She carried on the trade from the new farmhouse long after the original house was gone. I have a recording of Isobel and Bert and other local luminaries appearing on a Piccadilly Radio religious show in the 1970s. Many people were surprised to learn that Isobel was a Canadian.That recording will be seeing the light of day soon, along with all the other Middlewich Diary delights I keep promising. If only there were more hours in the day...

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  5. I remember collecting the milk from the dairy straight from the cooler, no pasteurisation in those days.

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