Saturday, 27 September 2014



Note: This announcement also appears on our MIDDLEWICH AND THE GREAT WAR site

Facebook Feedback

Sheila McLeod I went to the music Hall Cabaret evening last night with the Buttered Muffin Theatre Company. All I can say is what a brilliant evening of entertainment! There was close-up magic at the tables, singing, juggling, comedy and music. Old school stuff, I know, but it was a wonderful nights' entertainment

Suzanne A Johns I totally agree!. The best I've been to in a long time

Sonya Edwards People don't know what they missed. I haven't laughed like that for a long time. A very good evening. When people say that nothing happens in Middlewich, they must be walking around with their eyes shut! Roll on the weekend for more entertainment!

Val Prince Two twelve-year old boys had a great evening too! They loved the magic tricks at the table. A brilliant night!

Cllr Bernice Walmsley I agree - great evening! I find that when friends from other towns visit they are all amazed at how much goes on in our little town, and the variety too.

Thursday, 25 September 2014



by Dave Roberts
Paul Greenwood has been out with his camera to capture some aspects of the present day Middlewich scene for posterity, for the very good reason that some parts of it are, by all accounts, due to disappear soon.
We're saying 'by all accounts' because it appears that matters are by no means settled.
This picture shows Chester Road as it was in mid-January 2012, with Boosey's Garden Centre and Middlewich Autos in what should be their last few weeks before demolition to make way for a new Morrison's supermarket.
According to the local press work should begin on this in March, so it should naturally follow that the removal of these buildings is imminent.
However, other sources are saying that Morrison's, despite having obtained planning permission for their new store, are 'not yet committed' to building it (see 'UPDATE', below).
The theory is that uncertainty over plans by Tesco to rebuild, and greatly enlarge, their premises in Southway are causing Morrison's to delay a decision on actually going ahead with their plans.
Can a town of this size support two major supermarkets?
If they're both built, will people travel here from out of town to shop?
What will be the effect of these developments on the shops in Wheelock Street?
Opinion is divided on this. Some say that two large supermarkets (or even one greatly enlarged one) will kill off trade in the main street.
Others, on the other hand, are saying that the increased number of shoppers in the town will give a boost to Wheelock Street trade, as people will stay in town and buy all the things they can't buy in the supermarkets from the Wheelock Street shops.
Whatever happens, this may be a momentous year for Middlewich and large parts of the town may change forever.
Which is why, to return to the real point of this Middlewich Diary entry, Paul has gone out and about to record the 2012 Middlewich scene.
Middlewich Autos has been in business in Chester Road for over thirty years, replacing a firm with the pleasing name of Middlewich Motors (shame they couldn't keep the name).
Middlewich Motors in the 1950s

Boosey's Nurseries, of course, is much older and pre-dates even the arrival of the Boosey family in Middlewich in the mid-nineteenth century.
William Boosey was an Essex gardener who came here in the late 1850s and took over an existing nursery business.

William Boosey and Family
According to Allan Earl in Middlewich 1900-1950 (Cheshire Country Publishing 1994) Boosey leased land in Holmes Chapel Road, Webbs Lane and Pepper Street as well as in Chester Road and Holmes Chapel.
Allan also makes an interesting point which has a bearing on this entry in the Middlewich Diary:

...' The area of woodland along the Wheelock Valley which can be seen from Coal Pit Lane and Chester Road is overgrown nursery stock which was never cleared after the 1914-18 war, partly because of the fall off in trade in the late twenties and thirties, but also because the land falls away quickly to the river and was therefore unsuitable for agricultural machinery.'

So that great profusion of trees along the river, which I had assumed to be a fairly recent phenomenon, is actually much older than I thought, and now we know why it's there.
Right up until the 1950s and 1960s Boosey's nurseries owned a lot of land in the Nantwich Road area, where Glastonbury Drive and associated developments now lie.
The extent of the nurseries even in those days can be appreciated when you consider that the driveway which runs alongside the fine old Victorian house just where Nantwich Road makes a sharp bend to run down towards the aqueduct, once led into the nursery fields.
And if you stand in the car park of the present day Boosey's premises (while you still have the chance) and look in the direction of Glastonbury Drive you can imagine how things used to be, with many acres of land given over to the cultivation of all kinds of flowers, plants, trees and shrubs.
The change of name from Boosey's Nurseries to Boosey's Garden Centre gives an indication of how the  business has changed.

UPDATE: September 25th 2014. In actual fact the name didn't change, as we had assumed. Boosey's Nurseries and Boosey's Garden Centre were separate businesses and continued for a time on different parts of the site (see comment below). We're glad to correct this misunderstanding and also to know that the original Boosey's Nurseries business is still thriving in Antrobus. Many thanks to our anonymous contributor for putting us right on this point -Ed

The coffee shop mentioned is run by Helen Ireland and is one of the town's 'hidden gems':

 Boosey's Garden Centre would probably never win any architectural awards, but the buildings are attractive enough and it is an amenity which will be greatly missed when, as seems likely, it disappears (sooner or later) from the Middlewich scene.
Our advice is to enjoy it while you can.
Many thanks to Paul Greenwood for the photographs.
Will he be able to return in January 2013 and take more photographs of Boosey's and Middlewich Autos?
Or will a new era for shopping in Middlewich, for better or worse, have begun by then?

UPDATE: At the end of February 2012 it was announced that Morrisons' planned to start work on the site in May, and were still aiming to be open for business at Christmas 2012.
Meanwhile Tesco's original plans were also expected to be passed by Cheshire East's planning department on the 29th February.

Facebook comments:

Andrew Tomlinson with living in Croxton Lane for many years and being friendly with the Morrises I have many memories of this site. I will have to sit down and thumb through some old photos to see what I can find/remember. I do remember the garage being a petrol; station as well as car sales/repairs - owned and run by Bob Williams?

Boosey's Garden Centre finally closed its doors on the 26th April 2012. Click here for our valedictory tour of the premises

Originally published 20th January 2012
Re-published 25th September 2014 following the receipt of the comment below telling us that Boosey's Nurseries lives on not too far away in Antrobus.



Friday, 19 September 2014


Originally published 7th September 2012
Updated and re-published 19th September 2014

It's two years now since Kath and Barry's dream came true and the Sycamore Community Gardens opened their doors (or should that be gates?) to the public.
Recently there has been an upsurge in interest in the idea of community gardens, which are being established in many areas throughout the country. This renewed recognition of the benefits which such amenities can bring to local communities has, in its turn, brought about a re-awakening of interest locally.
Kath and Barry Walklate are still looking after the Sycamore Gardens and welcome help from interested members of the Middlewich community.
If you'd like to be a part of this great local initiative we can put you in touch with Kath and Barry. Send us your details and we'll pass them on.

You can email us at:

Dave Roberts

Here's our original Diary entry from 2012:


It was an occasion well worth waiting for, as the official opening day for the Sycamore Community Gardens in Warmingham Lane finally came around on September 1st  2012.
The opening ceremony was originally scheduled for June but the record-breaking rainfall of the summer of 2012 forced a re-think and the whole thing was put back to the start of what was forecast to be an Indian summer.
The weather didn't disappoint, and neither did the turn-out.

People came from far and wide to see the new garden and to enjoy the festivities. The Sycamore Gardens were the brainchild of Kath and Barry Walklate of Warmingham Lane who wanted to create a pleasant and interesting space for their neighbours in the bungalows surrounding what was, until a year ago, a piece of waste ground. With help from former Community Pride Chairman Stephen Dent they obtained a lottery grant and spent many hours creating the beautiful gardens which now stand where once there was nothing.

Deputy Mayor of Middlewich Bernice Walmsley performed the actual opening ceremony and said that the event showed 'how much can be achieved with a little money and a lot of hard work and determination.'

Our picture shows (left to right) Bernice Walmsley (Deputy Mayor), Barry and Kath Walklate and Stephen Dent.

Entertainment was provided by (left to right) Stephen Dent, Craig Moores, Freddie Moores and Dave Thompson.
Kath Walklate said, 'The music was fantastic - everyone was tapping their feet.'

The barbecue was manned by chef  Tom Browne and his wife Michelle ran the tombola and made the cakes.

Debbie Moran and her children Megan and Reece saw to it that the garden was bedecked with flags and bunting and that leaflets were distributed all over the area making sure people knew about the occasion.

A dream come true. Kath Walklate thanked everyone for attending the event: 'I could have cried because I felt we'd achieved that much. You think what it was like twelve months ago and now it's surrounded by smiling faces. It was well worth it.'

Kath and Barry would also like to thank Lynda Colbridge and Janet Chisholm for all their help in making the Sycamore Community Gardens a reality, and also the Middlewich Diary for help in publicising the occasion.
And this truly was an afternoon enjoyed by people of all ages.
As the Middlewich Guardian reported: 'the youngest attendee was Kath's nine month old grandchild Bayley, and neighbours in their 80s were also enjoying the fun'.

(with acknowledgments to David Morgan at the Middlewich Guardian)


Facebook Feedback:

Ian Hill-Smith: It's stuff like this that makes me proud to be a resident of this town.

Dave Roberts: Me too, Ian.

Bernice Walmsley: And me!

Kath & Barry Walklate: Lovely day with lovely people. It was a perfect day. We only hope now that people feel they can come along and spend a little time with us, as everyone will be made welcome. A really big thank you to all those who helped make this dream come true.

Kind regards, Kath & Barry

Thursday, 18 September 2014


by Dave Roberts
On the eve of the historic referendum vote when Scotland decides its future* Middlewich  has also come to a historic decision and announced that , after a gap of a hundred years, a new official Middlewich Town Crier has been appointed.
Devlin Hobson, who has been making guest appearances at Middlewich events throughout the year, was keen to take up the role, having visited Middlewich and 'fallen in love' with a town which, in recent years, has never missed an opportunity to make the most of its assets and promote itself to the world by exploiting a long and varied history going back to Roman Times and beyond.
The appointment of a Town Crier fits in beautifully with the Town Council's policy of letting everyone know what Middlewich has to offer.
Devlin Hobson attends as many Town Crier competitions as he can and has won quite a few prizes in the relatively short time he has been acting in the role, including First Prize at this year's Nantwich Town Crier Competition (see link below).
He always makes a point (as all Criers do) of singing the praises of the town he's representing.
And from now on, that town will be our town.
Surprisingly there was a certain amount of opposition to the idea of Middlewich having a new Town Crier when the idea was suggested.
Many people were concerned at the cost; in fact our Town Crier will cost us nothing except, presumably, travelling expenses. He supplies his own costume and equipment and writes his own speeches and proclamations.
Others queried the relevance of such an 'old-fashioned' figure in the 21st Century.
This can only be put down to a misunderstanding of the role of a modern-day Town Crier.
Of course we don't 'need' someone to stand in the middle of the town and shout out the latest news; of course we don't 'need' someone to attend local events and make announcements.
Of course we can let people know what's happening by means of Facebook and email (we could even, as someone suggested, pay for some radio advertisements - just think how much that would have cost, with no guarantee, in this multi-media world, of people being tuned to the right station!)
But Devlin's appearances this year, starting at the FAB Festival, have shown us just what a Town Crier can do.
 He's a colourful, larger-than-life figure; a symbol of the past bringing us fun and enjoyment in the present, and from a heritage and tourist point of view, he's worth a million dollars to this town.
It's worthwhile noting, too, that the Town Crier is not just available for 'official' Town Council events; he's also ready and willing to come along to local events organised by others.
The Rose Fete committee were quick to latch on to this idea in June. When they heard that Devlin was going to be at the FAB Festival, they invited him to make some announcements for their own event which was held on the Saturday of the festival weekend.
We wish Devlin and Jenny the greatest success and look forward to seeing them on many local occasions in the future.



...and you can keep up with Devlin and Jenny's frantic social whirl (if you have the stamina) by going to...


DEVLIN AT LICHFIELD         (Photo: Devlin Hobson)
* For the record, Scotland voted 'No' to independence!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


UPDATED AND RE-PUBLISHED 17th JULY  and 17th September

On the 17th September 2014 it was announced that, after a gap of a hundred years, Middlewich was to have a new Town Crier and that Devlin Hobson had been appointed to the post.
Congratulations to Devlin and his wife Jenny. We look forward to seeing you both at events in Middlewich for many years to come!
Dave Roberts, Editor.

Below is our original Diary entry on Devlin which was put together to publicise the idea of reviving a Town Crier for Middlewich.

DEVLIN and JENNY HOBSON Photo: Devlin Hobson

Just before the Middlewich FAB Festival of 2014 the question of whether or not Middlewich should revive the tradition of  having a Town Crier arose and, after initial scepticism and doubts, the idea was enthusiastically embraced by people seeing a great opportunity for this symbolic figure to help in promoting the town. Any lingering doubts were swept away at the festival itself when Devlin Hobson, Kidsgrove's Town Crier, came along to show us all how it should be done.

Here's Devlin's biography:

I'm 59 years old and been a town crier since July 2013. In my first competition in Nantwich I was placed 5th out of 13 criers and at the British Championship Huddersfield 2013 I achieved 15th place out of 24 criers. I have also  won best content of cry and, with my Escort, best dressed couple, both of these at Garstang 2013. Given the short time that I have been a Crier this was a pleasing achievement. I keep involved with my town and enjoy putting Kidsgrove on the map with the competitions.
I had an unusual job before I retired, I was a High Security Papermaking Technician I made it and you spent it Banknotes.
I was a Samaritan for 7 years 5 of which I spent in Prisons supporting inmates and staff. I helped to organise and train inmates for Listener scheme's which operate in prisons. I became part of a regional team which looked after 13 prisons in our area. I have seen and heard many things. I found this very fulfilling work and to see that you actually make a difference to someone is a fantastic feeling.
On retirement I moved to Nantwich and was able to attend St Marys Church regularly, I am now a sidesman and do duties every 6 weeks.
I take my Town Crying seriously and enjoy being a member of both The Loyal Company and The Ancient and Honourable, which enables me to promote the ancient art of Town Crying and my town of Kidsgrove throughout the country.
After a little research we were able to establish that Middlewich did indeed have its own Town Crier right up, it would appear, to the start of the First World War (and quite possibly beyond).


by Dave Roberts

An extra special guest at this year's Middlewich FAB Festival is Kidsgrove's Town Crier, Devlin Hobson, who will be here on Saturday 14th to enliven the proceedings and make sure everyone knows what's going on and where.

There's been talk lately of Middlewich having its own Town Crier once again and reviving a tradition which was, surprisingly, still carried on in the town as late as 1906. Devlin will be here as a sort of trailblazer for the idea, as an ambassador for Town Criers in general and also, I imagine, as an additional blow to the Keep Middlewich Miserable Brigade, members of which desperately try each year to pretend that the Festival is not happening around them as they try to go about their same-old same-old business.
As you can tell just by looking at his photo, Devlin will be a hard man to ignore.
Watch (and listen) for him on Saturday.

When the idea of a new Town Crier for Middlewich was first mooted I was, at first, sceptical, being (to my eternal shame) under the impression that Middlewich had never had such an official in its long history and feeling uncomfortable with the idea of 'inventing tradition'.
This misconception is a little hard to understand as Allan Earl, invariably our first port of call for information on Middlewich history, mentions him  in Middlewich 900-1900 (Ravenscroft Publications 1990), a book which is required reading for anyone interested in Middlewich and its history and one which I have pored over numerous times over the years. 
Old age creeping on and causing memory lapses, perhaps?

On page 170 of the above publication Allan is talking about C.F Lawrence becoming Clerk to the Middlewich UDC in 1904 and says:

Mr Lawrence would have known the town crier of this time, a man named Peter Jackson. His nickname was 'Crutchy P' because he was crippled in both legs and had a humped back, but managed to get along on crutches. He would stand in the Bullring under the centre gas lamp, ring his hand bell and shout 'Oh Yes! Oh Yes!' and then announce such things as a crockery sale at the White Bear, giving the date and time. This type of bell man followed the bell man of earlier years who announced parish meetings, declarations, changes in the law, victories or defeats in war etc.

On the left of this old view of Middlewich Town Centre is the gas lamp where 'Crutchy P' would announce the local news all those years ago. The Parish Church in the background gives us a clue as to what the scene looks like now.

Allan Earl's Middlewich 1900-1950 (Cheshire Country Publishing 1994) also mentions the Town Crier who was still around in 1905/6 (and was, presumably still 'Crutchy P' although Allan doesn't say so) and was able to announce the building and completion of the Council Schools in King Edward Street.

The foundation stone of the new Council School was laid on Wednesday January 3rd (1905) by Col. France-Hayhurst and by the following November 1906 the building was completed and opened.....The new Council School was designed to accomodate 288 junior and 297 senior (pupils). The Town Crier was still operating at this date and he would have announced the school information as well as the dates of bazaars, smoking concerts etc.
The Council School in King Edward Street, now Middlewich High School and still going strong.
Paul Hough Collection

And having thought about the idea of Middlewich having a new Town Crier, I'm all in favour of it. Not only would it be a quite legitimate revival of an old tradition, it can serve a very useful purpose, particularly at events like the FAB Festival where a crier could act as an audio Notice Board, telling people what's going on.
A kind of human PA system (only much more entertaining and authoritative) which doesn't need batteries or electricity.

We'll leave the last word to Devlin....
(Please note that, in this instance, the use of capitals is not intended to denote SHOUTING!!!!! but merely talking in a loud, well projected, voice)


Acknowledgments:Kidsgrove Town Council
                                     Devlin Hobson
                                     Jenny Hobson
                                     Margaret Poniznik (whose idea it was to revive a
                                     Middlewich Town Crier)
                                     Allan Earl

Facebook Feedback:

Geraldine Williams Great piece about the history of Town Criers in Middlewich, Dave - and a timely reminder of the days when the world was populated by 'Crutchies', 'Stumpies' and many other non-PC names for anyone unfortunate enough to have a physical or mental disability.

Dave Roberts Absolutely Geraldine. I don't care what people say, we now live in a much more compassionate and caring society than we did before. And what a lot of people refer to as 'political correctness gone mad' is, in most cases, just plain common decency.

Photo: Devlin Hobson
UPDATE JULY 17th 2014

Devlin (extreme right) and Jenny (extreme left) with a whole host of colourful Town Criers at the National Town Criers' Competition in  Lichfield, 2014
The competition was held, appropriately enough, at Lichfield's Speakers' Corner. 
Devlin in full flow. He was placed a very respectable 5th out of 12 contestants
Devlin and Jenny enjoy the company of  fellow town criers including, in the background, Shrewsbury Town Crier Martin Wood (in red and blue and sporting a white beard) who, at 7ft 2ins, is the world's tallest Town Crier!

 Although he's only been in office for a year, Devlin Hobson is already a veteran of quite a few competitions. Here's a particularly good report on the 2013 Nantwich event from our friends at the CREWE NEWS, featuring many photographs and even a video:


Devlin and Jenny can be seen at this year's  Montgomery event on July 19th, and at the Nantwich Competition on July 26th. They'll be back in Middlewich for the Makers' Market on the 30th August.

You can find out more by going to Devlin's Facebook Page:

And, assuming that Middlewich embraces the idea of a Town Crier, which it surely must, how long will it be before we have our own Town Crier competition?

We're guessing not too long...


Monday, 15 September 2014


Winsford Salt Fair/Winsford Town Council
Once again this year the Mid-Cheshire salt towns are coming together to celebrate their common heritage and this week our close neighbour, Winsford, is in the spotlight with the second annual Winsford Salt Fair. There's plenty going on in the town and on the River Weaver.

For obvious reasons, the focus this year is on the centenary of the Great War. Middlewich comes into its own in this regard on the 27th September with an Edwardian Music Hall at the Town Hall and on the 4th and 5th October with the Great War Weekend itself.
Details of the Middlewich events will be featured here from next week

Meanwhile Nantwich Museum  is presenting 'A Celebration Of Salt - the Story of  Brine in Nantwich' and invites you to take a tour of this ancient salt town.


(This Diary entry also appears on our MIDDLEWICHANDTHEGREATWAR site)