Wednesday, 19 August 2015

ANNUAL BOAT PULL 2015 (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED


APPEARING ON FRIDAY...

Recent photo.
Fred and Craig will be appearing on Friday at the Boatyard, along with Dave Thompson (guitar), Stephen Dent (percussion) and special guest DAI THOMAS!

(Fred reminded me recently that I came up with the name Moore & Moore Blues - something I'd forgotten about. It's not a perfect name, as we had to drop the 's' to make it work.  Then again, Moores and Moores Blues doesn't work at all! -ed.)

Courtesy of  Middlewich Narrowboats



Courtesy of Middlewich Music

Another great weekend of Entertainment in Middlewich!


BOAT PULL WINNERS 2015
SANDBACH TYRES
are awarded the trophy by
Middlewich Town Mayor Ken Kingston

LIVE MUSIC AT THE TURNPIKE FROM AUGUST 2015

CONTACT THE TURNPIKE FOR DETAILS

Monday, 17 August 2015

THE RED LION 1969

First published on Facebook 29th April 2011



by Dave Roberts

Here's one for owners of the  new apartments at the top of Wheelock Street to hang on their walls. 

It shows the old Red Lion on the corner of Wheelock Street and Nantwich Road as it was in 1969.
Note the CHESTERS neon sign and the off-licence, or 'OFF SALES', department.

Many pubs had these before the advent of...er...off-licences. 
There was, for example, one at The Vaults (or Brown's Vaults) at around the same time as this photo was taken.

Note also, to the right, the long-gone Yeowart's grocery shop on the corner of Nantwich Road and Chester Road and the total absence of gardens and dangerous road junctions in front of the pub.

In our drinking glory days we had some epic nights in the old Red Lion, particularly when the legendary Ted Hussey was the landlord.
It was there that I first saw the folk band Cheshire Folk in the early 1970s – twenty years before the Folk & Boat Festival was even a gleam in anyone's eye.
And in 1977 I did a few  Sunday evening discos there after a recommendation from the late lamented Frank Robinson. It was the year Elvis died, and we spent a lot of time crying into our beer and playing his records, along with a truly dire song called I Remember Elvis Presley by Danny Mirror.
But the Red Lion at that time was not really a place for a disco, particularly on a Sunday evening.
Reg Bunn summed it all up perfectly when he asked me, 'what do they do - rattle their dominoes in time with the music?'
By 1979 I had moved to The Vaults and spent three fraught but basically happy years playing disco music to a (usually) more appreciative crowd. But that's a story for another time...

The Red Lion meanwhile moved on through a series of transmogrifications and failed experiments, aimed at finding a new format.
Most of these involved nailing old doors and other bits of rubbish on the ceilings and plastering the walls with 'jokes' and fake notices. These were, as a friend remarked, mostly 'about as funny as a rupture'.

The pub became the Cat's Whiskers, the Tut & Shive, the Tap & Spile and probably a few more before, briefly, reverting back to the Red Lion and then becoming the rather more successful Cats Bar for its final few years.
Now its pub days are gone, along with all the memories and it has become 'Lion House', a rather unlikely apartment building.

The old stable block (seen to the right of the picture) and the bowling green to its rear have also gone to be replaced by town houses.

Thus does poor old Middlewich pass from glory.

At least the building itself survives, albeit shorn of most of its interesting adornments and character.

Originally published 13th July 2011

Revised and re-published 17th August 2015

Facebook Feedback

When this Diary entry was re-published in August 2015 there was a great reaction from many people who remembered what we like to call the pub's 'glory days' - the days when, if you had a Saturday night out at the Red Lion, you knew you'd had a night out...

Anita Jane Keal I grew up on Nantwich Road, not far from the Red Lion, where the flats are now. I have such wonderful memories of this era, and  pictures like this bring a tear to my eye. In one such picture I saw Dad's old car parked outside our house. Now that did make me cry!

Dave Roberts I lived in Nantwich Road myself, at number 53, from 1952 to 1959. My sister lives just a few doors away from there now.

Anita Jane Keal It was such a wonderful era when we were kids - so carefree! Mind you, I did escape to play footie one day when I was five and got hit by a car outside our house, number 25. I still have the cars too! Dad worked in the Red Lion as a waiter for Ted. Then, as I got older, I worked there too, from 1986 to 1988

Debbie Fox My Mum still lives in the same house as I grew up in. I have very fond memories of playing on the park with the massive slide. Had a few fab nights in the Red Lion!

Dave Thompson Happy Days! Our first house was number 25.

Christine Ruscoe Yeowarts! I'm glad others remember this shop too!

Dave Prince Not as old as you, Mrs!

Jacqui Cooke I used to go in there for a quick one with my friends on a Friday and Saturday night while waiting for the bus to Mr Smith's Club in Winsford.

Craig Whitney What does the red sign say?

Dave Roberts The one at the top, underneath the attic window, says RED LION; the other one says CHESTERS - by then part of Whitbread.

Craig Whitney Was Chesters a pub chain or brewery?

Paul Stevens It's a brewery:

'Back in 1959 mild accounted for 42% of beer brewed. Twenty years later it was down to 10%, and today it's probably much less than that. Initially this steep decline was largely the result of selective advertising on bitter beers, but until the late 1970s most brewers still produced at least one mild.
Its last strongholds now are the Midlands and the North-West, especially the Manchester area. Its popularity there is perhaps typified by Chesters 'Fighting' Mild as it was endearingly known. Once a delicious dark mild - so dark that the first time you walked into a pub selling it you would be convinced everyone was drinking draught Guinness. The 'fighting' tag seems to be derived from typical scenes inside and out at the average Chesters House! Chesters was, sadly, closed by Whitbread in the 1980s.'

Colin Dutton I was born and bred at number one Nantwich Road, right next door, and I'm sure I was fed Whitbread bitter as a baby! They had a fantastic bowling green, as I remember. Chesters was a beer - bitter or mild.

Bernie O'Neill I remember it well, living there for 18 years and being crossed over the road to got to Yeowart's shop. Good picture! Dave, I must sort through those old films. There are lots of scenes showing trips to the races etc. from the Red Lion in the good old days!



Saturday, 15 August 2015

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW (POLICE STATION) LATE 1974





 
by Dave Roberts

Having perused the old Police Station and its outbuilding (which may or may not have been a stable)
we turn our attention to its replacement, seen here under construction in late 1974. Bland and boring, and with none of the reassuring solidity of its Victorian predecessor, the new police station  was built during a time in which a 'one size fits all' policy seemed to be in force. The police station in Nantwich, for example, is almost a carbon copy of this building. The station in Sandbach is of a slightly different design, but has one thing in common with the Middlewich station: it's never open (at Sandbach, there is a notice in the window boasting of the fact).
The buildings to be seen in the middle distance to the left of the picture are the Victoria Building and Civic Hall (now the Town Hall and accompanying Victoria Hall).
In 2015 the new Police Station, which never provided very much of a 'hands-on' service to the public, stood with its windows and doors completely obliterated by blue vinyls and notices informing people that it was not 'the Middlewich Police Custody Suite'.
That somewhat unpopular building  is situated  on the edge of town, on the Midpoint 18 estate. Why it was decided that a town with such a dreadful public transport service would be suitable for such a facility remains a mystery.
One beneficial by-product of the replacement of the old station with the new was the  handy little footpath which  runs from Queen Street, past the police station,  to the Civic Hall car park and Market Field.



Originally published 26th June 2011
Updated and re-published 15th August 2015

Saturday, 1 August 2015

MEET THE MIDDLEWICH METEORS!

The Middlewich Meteors May 1957: L to R - Elvin Bowyer (washboard), Alan Birchall (guitar), Peter Birchall (guitar), Peter Wilson (double bass), Freddie Moores (banjo), and Brian Eaton (guitar) In front is Edward Tattersall (guitar)



by Dave Roberts

The Middlewich Diary is always at home to talk of Middlewich music matters and from local legend FREDDIE MOORES comes this salutary reminder that music in Middlewich didn't begin twenty-five years ago with the first Folk & Boat Festival.

In fact, although this article is about Middlewich music 1957 style, it goes without saying that there have always been people around town making music of one kind or another.

An older generation, for example, will tell you all about Percy Bailey's Band which played dance music at the old Middlewich Town Hall on Hightown for many a Saturday Night Dance, with Percy famously propping the latest edition of the Evening Sentinel  up on his piano's music stand to keep up with the local news as interminable waltzes, quick-steps and fox-trots filled the smoky air.




                                           The old Middlewich Town Hall


So, to be clear, we're talking about the start of the modern era of Music In Middlewich in the1950s - the age of Skiffle and Rock 'n' Roll!

Fred kindly loaned me a copy of this historical souvenir which features not only a copy of a press cutting from May 1957 about the Middlewich Meteors but also one from 48 years later when Freddie was trying to get hold of a copy of the photo he remembered being published all those years before. There's also an 'ode' to the band (or 'group' as they would, undoubtedly, have been called in those days) which was probably written by one of those young musicians.
We're happy to reproduce these historic documents for the electronic generation and preserve them for posterity.
Let's begin with Fred's 2005 appeal to the local Guardian for information about members of the band, and for a copy of that elusive photograph.
The first thing to note is that Fred was talking to the 'wrong' newspaper - perfectly understandable after all those years, and given the tendency of the Guardian and the Chronicle to wax and wane in popularity locally, seemingly taking it in turns to be the local paper of choice for Middlewichians.

NORTHWICH GUARDIAN
Winsford & Middlewich Edition
Wednesday April 13th 2005.

FRED ON A MISSION TO BE REUNITED WITH BAND

A MIDDLEWICH musician is looking to be reunited with his former band mates nearly 50 years after they first formed.
Fred Moores of Shropshire Close is looking for members of his old skiffle band The Middlewich Meteorites (sic)*, and is trying to source a picture of the band which he believes was taken in 1956 or 1957.
Fred, 67, said: 'The picture was taken at the back of the White Bear pub which is where we used to practise.'
Fred says the picture, which appeared in the Guardian (sic), features guitarists Eddie Tattersall and Brian Eaton, as well as washboard and bass player Peter Wilson.
Fred, who played the ukelele and banjo, would love to know if anyone has a copy of the picture and would also like to hear from his former band mates.
He said: 'We were only aged between about 15 and 17. It was just before we went into the army in 1958. We took part in a few contests at Mr Smiths in Winsford. I'd just like to know where they all are and if anyone has a copy of the picture.'
If you were a member of the Middlewich Meteorites (sic)*, or know someone who has a copy of the picture, contact reporter Gemma Sproston by ringing 01606 813624, email gsproston@guardiangrp.co.uk, or write to 15 Market Street, Northwich, Cheshire CW9 5DT.

*You'll note that we rather sniffily use the term sic to indicate that we are reproducing the Guardian's use of 'Meteorites' even though we know it to be wrong. It's very likely, of course, that Gemma Sproston, who is a very good journalist, only used the name Middlewich Meteorites because that's the name she was given by Fred who himself believed it to be the name of the group. It was, after all, a long time ago - Ed.

Fred's appeal obviously bore fruit because also included in his souvenir is a cutting from The Chronicle of Saturday May 18th 1957 (how long is it since the publication of our local papers switched from Saturday to Thursday?)

To put this piece of Middlewich history into context, remember that the Middlewich of May 18th 1957 was somewhat different to the town we know today.
Middlewich Station was still open to passengers and 'The Dodger' was still whisking passengers from Middlewich to Northwich in as little as 7 minutes. It would only continue to do so, however, until the last day of 1959.
The Alhambra was still open for business as a cinema and  there were, as now, many pubs, but the only place you could get something to eat or a cup of tea was  Heathcote's Cafe in Lewin Street.
The open-pan salt works were still going strong, with Seddon's in Pepper Street - just a matter of yards away from the Meteors' rehearsal room - belching out black smoke and white steam all through the week. The other Seddon's works in Wych House Lane and Brooks Lane were also thriving, as was Murgatroyd's Brooks Lane works. This venerable method of salt-making would continue for another ten years (nine in the case of Murgatroyd's) before falling to progress in the shape of the British Salt works which replaced them all in 1969.
And Fountain Fields - now re-christened 'Tesco Park' by a new generation - which seems to have been there forever was, in 1957, a mere five years old.

Middlewich then was a dirty, dingy, smoky little town just crying out for some great entertainment - something Fred and friends were determined to provide...


THE CHRONICLE
Saturday May 18th 1957

They aim to 'rock' the town in a big way

MEET THE MIDDLEWICH Meteors, the skiffle group that is currently 'rocking' the town three or four nights a week at its practice sessions. You can see them in action at their headquarters - a room in what was a stable block in the ancient coaching yard behind the White Bear Hotel.
The group had originally planned to form themselves into a harmonica gang. Then came the skiffle craze. Nobody wanted to listen to harmonicas*, so the seven friends set about acquiring the necessary instruments.
The double bass is a simple matter of a tea-chest, a wooden pole and a piece of string. The washboard is of a kind any housewife can buy at a hardware store. The guitars were all bought second-hand.
So far the group has only had one official booking - they played at the British Legion Club a fortnight ago - but they are on the look-out for future engagements.

(the photo illustrating this story is reproduced at the top of the page)

The White Bear Hotel in the early 1970s. In a former stable building behind the pub the sound of the Middlewich Meteors was  born in 1957.


So where did the long-lost cutting come from? I'm making an educated guess that it was bass player Peter Wilson who kept it for almost half a century. Also reproduced in Fred's souvenir is a short poem, signed by 'PW' Is this also Peter Wilson? If so, he obviously, like Fred, never forgot his time as one of the MIDDLEWICH METEORS!

ODE TO A SOUND

One time when lightning struck in Middlewich
And the MIDDLEWICH METEORS emerged from the sky,
Was the single moment in the world of Skiffle
When each player soared nine miles high,
Freddie, Eddie, the two Peters, Brian - and Alan and Elvin too;
We don't forget those that shone as bright in our souls as they will always do,
An era we all belonged to that will never come again,
Arte those times of joy and fun that forever will remain,
And in this hour once more together in minds and thought , and heartm
Forever we rekindle the flame that began its throbbing youthful spark. PW

And a quick glance at the music chart (an institution which had at that time only been running for five years) gives us an inkling into the music which inspired the formation of the MIDDLEWICH METEORS fifty-eight years ago.

Selected number one hits of  1957:

11th January Singing The Blues - Tommy Steele
12th April - Cumberland Gap - Lonnie Donegan
17th May - Rock-A-Billy - Guy Mitchell
28th June - Gamblin' Man/ Puttin' On The Style - Lonnie Donegan
12th July - All Shook Up - Elvis Presley
1st November - That'll Be The Day - The Crickets.

*'...nobody wanted to listen to harmonicas' Very ironic, really, as Fred is well-known today as a master of the blues harmonica. Together with his equally talented son Craig, Fred formed Moore & Moore Blues a few years ago. Fred and Craig are also members of the Salty Dog Blues Band



Many thanks to Fred for sharing this fascinating piece of Middlewich musical history with us.-Ed



MIDDLEWICH - KEY TO THE NORTHERN POWERHOUSE?



'One immensely effective way in which the impact of the Northern Powerhouse could be widely realised would be the reopening of Middlewich railway station to passengers—a campaign that thousands of residents of Middlewich have supported for many years.

That would open up rail access directly from Crewe, right through Cheshire and into Manchester, and relieve pressure on the M6.

It also has the support of many surrounding constituency MPs.

I urge Ministers to look into that and to revert back to me with their considerations.'

Fiona Bruce MP, House Of Commons, 13th July 2015

With thanks to Ian Tresman, Andrew Malloy and

MIDDLEWICH RAILWAY STATION FACEBOOK PAGE

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