Sunday, 31 March 2013

MIDDLEWICH WHARF AT NIGHT by JIM MOORES

Middlewich Wharf, Easter Sunday 2013
We've used many many photographs on the Middlewich Diary over the last eighteen months or so, the vast majority of them  to illustrate something about Middlewich's history or to record a recent event for posterity.
But we're publishing this superb shot of Middlewich Wharf for its own sake, simply because it's such an excellent and atmospheric picture.
It's by Jim Moores who runs the Canals and Rivers of Middlewich Facebook page and also contributes to Bill Armsden's Middlewich Photographers group.
These sites contain some really excellent photographs, both by Jim and by the growing band of local photographers who are busy recording the passing Middlewich scene for future generations to enjoy.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

REVIVING A MID-CHESHIRE EASTER TRADITION


Leo's first Good Friday ball.
As our salt town days recede further and further into history it's interesting to hear of a tradition which seems to be unique to Winsford and Middlewich and was brought to our attention by Margaret Poniznik who wrote a post on Facebook asking if everyone had bought their Good Friday balls ready for Easter.
The whole idea seemed to be news to a lot of people, including me, but Margaret pointed out that the custom had been mentioned in a short Middlewich Guardian article.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

MIDDLEWICH TOWN CENTRE PUZZLE PICTURE


Here's one for all our Middlewich aficionados. The puzzle we're trying to work out is the date of this picture of Middlewich Town Centre. There are various clues and indicators to be taken into account.
First of all, notice that the weather vane is securely in place atop St Michael's Church Tower. This went missing for a few years and, we seem to recall, was refurbished and put back in place just before one of the original Folk & Boat Festivals, which puts the date after 1990.
Below the church the late and unlamented 'piazza' is still in place, awaiting replacement by the much superior 'Roman Amphitheatre' we know today.
In front of the piazza you can just make out the old bus shelter with a sign indicating that we're still in the Cheshire County Council era.
Why, incidentally, did they put those steps in on the right of this lacklustre structure when there's a perfectly good pavement running right alongside? We'll probably never know.
On the left the Vaults car-park is still in unrebuilt form and a blackboard proudly announces the presence of BIG SCREEN SKY TV, so we're also in the early years of  satellite TV in pubs. Nowadays all pubs showing SKY TV have massive banners outside proclaiming the existence of SKY on the premises and the BIG SCREEN bit is taken for granted.
Middlewich's tall and quite elegant lamp posts are still in place, albeit painted grey instead of municipal green and there's no sign yet of the horrendous 'glorified patio heaters' we have complained about in more recent years.
And what, we wonder, are those pipes doing running across the road?
On the right of the picture is a collection of buildings which merits closer inspection...


On the left our poor beleagured butchered butcher's shop has become home to a video shop called 'Titles', although one of the windows seems to have been broken.
The hideous green wooden panelling which so disfigured this formerly beautiful shop has not yet been introduced, giving us the possibly unique sight of a video shop with MEAT PURVEYORS on the front.
In 2013 the shop looks much smarter as the home of the Balti Spice Takeaway.
Next door, sporting a white logo rather than the current red one, is...er...the Natwest Bank, about which the least said the better...
And to its right is the never-to-be-forgotten Dillon's, now part of Tesco's dwindling Middlewich empire.
'See you Down Dillon's!' was the cry in those days.
The red and white sign to the right of the shop is indicating that Dillon's was, at the time, the home to Middlewich Post Office, now situated in Lewin Street.
This picture rather makes it look as if the Post Office was a separate establishment but it was, as people will well remember, actually at the rear of Dillon's.
We think this picture was taken sometime between 2000 and 2005, but we are, as ever, open to correction.
UPDATE (27th March): In fact, we've already been corrected. Bill Armsden says:
'The street lights are still the old type, so do we know when the street lamps were changed? 24 Self Video were at No 12 Hightown during 2001/2 and by that time 'Titles' had gone and Balti Spice were there. So, before 2000 is my guess because that was the year we moved back here and Baltic Spice were already trading. Asking Baltic Spice when they opened for business might help date this picture too.'
(See also Bill's comment, below)
So when did the Town Centre look like this?
Middlewich, it's over to you...

Friday, 22 March 2013

LAST ONE STANDING...

Photo courtesy of Bill Eaton/Joan Smith
Today, courtesy of Bill Eaton, we're taking a look at a couple of Frank Smith's pictures of  an area of Lewin Street now occupied by the Salinae Centre. The date would be some time in the mid to late 1970s. We know from this Diary entry that the C of E Infants School was still standing in 1975, so these views of the last building standing in the row will date to around  that time, or perhaps a little later. The boarding used to shield Lewin Street from the demolition of the Infants School is still in place, and you can see that a small portion of the school has been left standing to the left of the Square One shop, presumably to support the shop's end wall. 
What appears to be a strange construction on top of the shop building is, we think, someone recovering roof tiles, the image made a little blurry by the back lighting. 
Are we imagining it, or is that crouching 1970s workman wearing a pair of trendy 1970s flared jeans?
Those roof tiles probably live on to this day, keeping the rain out of someone else's house or shop.
To the right of the shop is the open space left by the demolition of the Central Methodist Church, as seen here, and  Seddon's workshops as seen here, and beyond that the still existing but much refurbished buildings behind Middlewich DIY in Wych House Lane.
Photo courtesy of Bill Eaton/Joan Smith
Frank's second photo was taken some days later, after the demolition of the shop. On the extreme left is the still extant building which was once Challinor's/Gibbin's Newsagents*, as seen here, and on the extreme right is the very last tall building on this side of Lewin Street, the former Co-op Drapery department, at that time occupied by Oates Builders Merchants, whose modern warehouse building can also be seen in the middle left of the picture. The tall building has gone, and the present day Builder's Merchants business, operated by Jewson, is concentrated on that new warehouse and a large yard created by the demolition of the other buildings on the site.
Many thanks, as always, to Bill Eaton, for sending us the pictures.
Bill points out that these shots are another example of Frank Smith's happy knack of being in the right place at the right time.

*this building was later to become the home of J&M Print and then, after a period of dereliction, became the home of Peter Forshaw's Funeral Directors business in the second decade of the 21st century.

TOWN COUNCIL LOCAL HERO AWARDS 2013 (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED


Yes it's that time of year once again. Middlewich Town Council are seeking nominations for people deserving recognition for their contribution to Middlewich community life.
Below, courtesy of Denise at the Town Council, is the official information inviting nominations and explaining a little bit about the awards.


Who is your unsung hero or heroine in Middlewich?
Who do you think is so inspiring they deserve to be recognised with a
Middlewich Local Hero award?

We are looking to find those who are most deserving of the awards.
They can be of any age and from any walk of life.

These annual awards are to recognise those special people or businesses whose efforts have made a difference to Middlewich.

There are three categories of award this year:
SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR
SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY
MAYOR'S SPECIAL AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTION TO MIDDLEWICH

We need your nominations to get the awards to those who truly deserve them.

The awards will be presented at the Mayor's Civic Dinner on Saturday 20th April 2013.
Closing date for nominations is Friday 5th April 2013.

Entry forms can be collected from:
Middlewich Library, Lewin Street or The Accord Clinic, Hightown, or Middlewich Town Council, The Town Hall, Victoria Building, Lewin Street, Middlewich CW10 9AS.

Tel: 01606 833434
or download a nomination form 


Tickets for the Mayor's Civic Dinner can also be obtained from the above address.


(TL 060413ARCHIVED))


A TRIBUTE TO 'AUNTIE MAUREEN'


ARCHIVED

Our photo ahows Auntie Maureen with Ian's daughter, Charlee

Ian Murfitt writes:
On  Saturday 23rd March at 2 pm, a plaque will be unveiled at Wardle Lock, Middlewich, to commemorate the life of Auntie Maureen Shaw.
 This will be followed by a music session at The Boar's Head starting at 3pm (See below). 
Maureen was a great supporter of the Folk and Boat Festival and the FAB Festival so it would be nice to see loads of musos who have been connected with the festival over the years..... and some new friends............
Wardle Lock Cottage in 2012


SEE ALSO: WARDLE LOCK COTTAGE AND 'AUNTIE MAUREEN'
                MAUREEN AND HER LOCK
                MAUREEN'S FUNERAL MARCH 30th 2012
                MEMORIES OF A BOATWOMAN MARCH 23rd 2013

Photo: Bill Armsden
A TRIBUTE TO AUNTIE MAUREEN
FOLK SESSION AT
THE BOAR'S HEAD, MIDDLEWICH
Friends of Maureen, the Waterways and the Middlewich Festival, including Singers, Musicians and Performers of all kinds
VERY WELCOME
SATURDAY 23rd MARCH at 3pm
(following the unveiling of the plaque at Wardle Lock)





(Diary entry updated 22nd March 2013)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

LINK: A SERENDIPITOUS YOUTUBE DISCOVERY


FIRST PUBLISHED, AUGUST 2011; UPDATED MARCH 2013
A short but very professional video intro to Middlewich, showcasing the various festivals and events of the last few years. Highly recommended.

MIDDLEWICH SHORT INTRO

UPDATE: 19th MARCH 2013: Sadly, BBC North-West announced today that Nigel Jay, who made this film, had died suddenly at his home in Stockport.

NIGEL JAY HAS DIED - MIDDLEWICH GUARDIAN REPORT


Facebook feedback:

  • Bernice Walmsley Absolutely brilliant! Who did that?


  • Bernice Walmsley Just watched the other two excerpts -it was Nigel Jay - can't wait to see the full DVD about Middlewich.


  • Dave Roberts Ah! I wondered if it was Nigel's work, as it was so professional. I know he's been making a DVD to promote the town. An excellent job.






    • Jonathan Williams Yes Nigel spoke to me about the full version today (3rd August 2011). It will be in the can tomorrow and in the post on Friday for a final 'proofing' and then the big launch sometime soon. Looking forward to it. Good work !



MIDDLEWICH, THE TOWN AND ITS FESTIVALS




This Diary Entry was originally published on the 14th December 2011.
Updated 25th July 2012 with a direct link to the Youtube video
Updated 19th March 2013 on the very sad announcement of
the death of Nigel Jay

Middlewich, The Town and its Festivals is a promotional video which has been produced on behalf of the Town Council by Nigel Jay Robson of Jaymedia. Many people will remember Nigel as simply Nigel Jay, presenter of BBC North's North West Tonight a few years ago. Personally I'll never forget him because in the late eighties he presented my serialised short story The Jolly Boatman as part of his show Jaywalk on BBC Radio Stoke. Sadly BBC North-West announced on the 19th March 2013 that Nigel had passed away suddenly at his home in Stockport.
Nigel Jay  Robson Photo: Jaymedia
The video, as I mentioned before when only the preview was available, makes this town look like a million dollars and features excerpts from the MFAB Festival, the World War II Weekend, the Romans in Middlewich Festival, the Middlewich Transport Festival and the Norman Middlewich Festival, not forgetting scenes of Middlewich at Christmas.
If you used to live here, you'll wish you still did; if you live here and have yet to realise what Middlewich has to offer you'll be amazed. and if you've never been here you'll really really want to.
There's a catch-line in this amazing video which could have been made for the Middlewich Diary:
'Here's a town in the heart of Cheshire, which has more to it than you might have thought...'
- Dave Roberts

WATCH THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

JAYMEDIA WEBSITE

NIGEL JAY HAS DIED - GUARDIAN REPORT




Saturday, 16 March 2013

MUSIC IN MIDDLEWICH: MIDDLEWICH and DISTRICT CONCERTS SOCIETY


MIDDLEWICH & DISTRICT CONCERTS SOCIETY

NEXT EVENT:

Saturday 23rd March 2013
“Before They Become Famous VI”
This year's students at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music chosen to entertain us will be
Seth Livingstone - Euphonium
Bethan Allmand - Violin
Samantha Wright - Jazz Clarinet
Myrna Tennant - Soprano
For more information about the Junior RNCM visit their own web-site:

RNCM WEBSITE

MIDDLEWICH & DISTRICT CONCERTS SOCIETY WEBSITE


Friday, 15 March 2013

SPELLING IT OUT...


FIRST PUBLISHED 4th March 2013, UPDATED 15th MARCH 2013

by Dave Roberts
Here's a novel and interesting idea for a present if you like.
Dyed-in-the-wool Middlewichians (or 'Middlewichers' if you really must) Ann and Mike Hough were given this intriguing framed set of photos spelling out the fine old Middlewich name of Hough (pronounced, for the uninitiated, 'Huff') as a Christmas present last year and have kindly allowed us to feature it here for your delight and edification.
Urbanfotofont  can produce any name from photographs of shapes taken in whatever local area you like - in this case, of course, Middlewich.
And while putting together this particular set of photos, by a wonderful example of synchronicity they got closer to home than they could have imagined with one of the photographs.
So how good are you at recognising familiar little bits of Middlewich?
We think the location of three out of the four images are pretty easy to work out - specifically the two 'H's and the 'O'.
But we have to confess that the 'U' and the 'G' have us stumped for the present.
The 'U' looks like a rope handle on the end of a wooden box  - is there, perhaps, a canal connection?
And the 'G' has the look of part of the inscription on a gravestone or some kind of memorial.
Does anyone have any ideas?
We'll give you the answers - or at least the ones we have so far - in an update to this diary entry in a few days time..
 Meanwhile, don't hesitate to give us your ideas and theories, either on this site or on Facebook.

And if you'd like to buy something similar for yourself (just think yourself lucky if you have a short name - The France-Hayhursts and Willing-Dentons of this world will end up paying a fortune) here's a link to the Urbanfotofont site.

URBANFOTOFONT



UPDATE: 15th MARCH:

Here are the answers so far: The first 'H' is part of the buildings in Lewin Street opposite the White Horse,
the 'O' is the very familiar 'Bull's Head' on top of the former Fittons/Vernons butchers' shop in the Bullring and the second 'H' (and this is where that little bit of synchronicity comes in) is on the end of two cottages further along Lewin Street and on the other side of the road. Those cottages, although the photographer is unlikely to have known this, actually belong to Mr and Mrs Hough.
So what about the 'U'? Geraldine Williams, like me, seems to think that it is indeed the handle of a wooden box. But where is it?
And everyone seems agreed that the 'G' is part of an inscription on a headstone. But is it one of the old ones which now form a pathway through St Michael's Churchyard, or one of the (mostly) newer ones in Middlewich Cemetery?


Sunday, 10 March 2013

DERELICT HOUSE IN CROXTON LANE, 1999


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 16th September 2011 UPDATED 10th MARCH 2013 (see below)
This picture has, I realise, something of the quality of an old watercolour painting but that's because of the circumstances under which in was taken. It's a very rare photograph indeed, in that it was taken from the window of a train travelling from Middlewich to Northwich on the 26th November 1999. It was a rainy day and the rain and the speed of the train, plus the less-than-sparklingly-clean carriage window have given it a smeary quality which, I think, is quite nice.
(The whole series of photos showing the train journey from Crewe to Chester via Sandbach, Middlewich and Northwich will appear here at a future date).
The subject of the photo is something which was mentioned to me a while ago by Liz McGuinness of The Boar's Head. It's that derelict house close to the railway bridge in Croxton Lane which has intrigued and tantalized people for years.
Many people have enquired about it, with a view to, perhaps, buying it and turning it back into a desirable residence but their enquiries have always ended in  failure.
What is the truth behind this derelict house? Some say that it is owned by ICI (or whatever the current name of the company is) and they have always vetoed any attempt to rehabilitate it for mysterious 'commercial reasons'.
And, of course, some say it has a dark and disturbing past, but that's more M.R. James than Middlewich Diary territory.
One gruesome tale about the house I can confirm: When my brother Glynn was a serving police officer in this area, in the 1970s, he went there to investigate a report of a suicide, and found the body of some poor unfortunate hanging from the rafters.
In 2011 the house is still there but, it goes without saying, in an even greater state of dereliction. It is now probably beyond saving.
Does anyone know the history of this haunting ruin? No doubt the actual truth is very mundane and probably very boring. But it would be interesting to hear it.

SEE ALSO DERELICT HOUSE IN CROXTON LANE by ED O'KEEFE

UPDATE:


This story from a 2009 edition of the Middlewich Guardian  sheds a lot of light on the mystery:

READERS SOLVE MYSTERY OF DERELICT CROXTON LANE COTTAGE IN MIDDLEWICH

Facebook feedback:






  • Sherry Hill-Smith I too have looked at that house & wished I could rebuild it as it was. That was until about a year after I met & began working with someone whose husband  was found hanging from the rafters but I guess there must have been more than one incident of it - because this was in somewhere in the early 1990s - like 92 or near. Learning about that kind of cured me.


  • Dave Roberts Yes it must have, sadly, happened more than once, because Glynn had moved to Crewe by the 1990s, before his retirement and untimely death in, coincidentally, 1999. The really intriguing thing about this house is that it's still there after all these years. If it had been demolished it would, naturally, have been long forgotten.


    Geraldine Williams I always understood that there was a covenant on the house, preventing its sale, under the terms of the Will of some spinster member of the farm family, but that is obviously wrong. I do, however, remember the suicide that Glynn investigated. It was a young man who used to drink in the ICI Club




    • Dave Thompson: My Dad tried to buy this property 30yrs ago and I know others have tried. Another town gateway blighted by derelict property- should be a law against it!!

      UPDATE MARCH 2013:
      The saga of the Mystery House finally ended in March 2013 when the property was demolished. Here's a link to a report in the Middlewich Guardian. Note the comment following the story which adds another piece to the jigsaw.
      CROXTON LANE COTTAGE  FINALLY DEMOLISHED