Tuesday, 26 April 2016


by Dave Roberts

This was the sign which greeted visitors to the Fountain Fields recreation ground during the last days of the Middlewich UDC's existence in 1974. The recreation ground - or 'The Park' as most people call it* - had been serving the people of the town for twenty-two years at this point. I can't recall what the rest of the sign said, but it was one of those stern 'By Order Of The Council' announcements warning people against trying to enjoy themselves too much.
Notice the deadly spikes on the fence and gate. There was much dismay when, at the dawn of the Elf and Safe Tea era, these spikes were sawn off.
The general consensus of opinion was that anyone stupid enough to try to climb over such an obviously dangerous fence really had it coming.

In 1974 there was a little more to Fountain Fields than there is in the present day. At the top end, where the access road for Tesco's supermarket now runs, there was a putting green where in around 1966 I beat all comers in a St Michael's Players sports evening (I also thrashed them all at bowls, too)

*or even, time having moved on, 'Tesco Park'.

In 2011 the main entrance into Fountain Fields was graced by this sign erected by the Congleton Borough Council which, unusually, decided to give due credit to its predecessor for creating this valuable amenity.

As can be seen, it tells all and sundry that Councillor F Buckley opened Fountain Fields in July 1952, though why they didn't have the common courtesy to wait another couple of months until after I'd been born is beyond me. 
The Town Council has some photos of the opening celebrations, and I hope to be able to bring them to the Middlewich Diary soon.

It would be quite fitting if  Cheshire East  erected another sign acknowledging that it was the CBC who erected the sign acknowledging the MUDC...

There is a possibility that Fountain Fields will, before too long, be back in local hands. It's one of the responsibilities  which could be handed back to the Town Council under new legislation.

Then it would be time for another new sign. I suggest one giving thanks to the CBC and Cheshire East for looking after the place for us, followed by 'We're Back Now.'

I've got many happy memories of Fountain Fields. I played tennis there with my brothers as a child and when I got my first job with the UDC in 1969 one of my duties was to toddle along there periodically with old Bertie Maddock and collect all the pennies people had paid to use the toilets and the putting green.

Fountain Fields is, and always has been, very popular and I'm very proud to say that a few years ago I was instrumental in helping foil a dastardly plot to close it and sell the land off for housing.

Consultations took place in late 2015/early 2016 on the way that Fountain Fields should be developed; money became available for a revamp of the area and people living nearby were asked what they would like to see happen.

By far the most popular suggestion was that we should return to the days when Fountain Fields was locked at night, in order to deter 'anti-social behaviour'.

Surely not too much to ask?

If they can put a man on the moon....

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that  the original MUDC sign says FOUNTAIN FIELD rather than FOUNTAIN FIELDS. 

I've never noticed that before. Nor have I ever heard anyone use the singular form of the name. Has anyone else?

And if you're wondering where Fountain Fields gets its name from, it seems that  in the 19th Century the area was a source of water for the town. There were three wells, feeding into two storage tanks, one of which was called 'The Fountain'. These tanks, in turn, fed water into the 'Town Spout'. We're grateful to the Middlewich Heritage Society for this information. 

Facebook Feedback (2016):

Geraldine Williams In my day a great gathering place for the town's Yoof. I still have nightmares about one piece of equipment called The American, a huge suspended see-saw, where the poor kids in the middle were at the mercy of the lads hanging off the end, which made it go as high as possible. Elf 'n' Safety?!!

Sylvia Burrows I hope they do spend money on it. I enjoyed taking my children there, and playing bowls on the green. There was also a small paddling pool at the back but, sadly, houses were built on it. Happy memories!

Maggie Garner I remember that sign!

First published 30th November 2011
Updated and re-published 26th April 2016

Monday, 25 April 2016



The Mayor of Middlewich, Ken Kingston, in association with Middlewich historian Allan Earl and Kerry Fletcher, the Town Council's Heritage Officer, is presenting an unmissable exhibition at the Town Hall on Saturday 30th April featuring many rare photographs of Middlewich in the past with modern images for comparison.

Ken Kingston and Allan Earl            Photo: Middlewich Town Council

There are also objects from Middlewich Heritage's extensive collection together with rare archive film footage.

Photo:Kerry Fletcher
Kerry is Middlewich Town Council's Heritage Officer. Find out more about her work here

And here's a link to another ongoing local history initiative:

Whether you're a long time resident or a newcomer to our town this is a golden opportunity for you to find out more about Middlewich's history, which stretches back to the Roman era and beyond.

Middlewich U3A Local History Group
Ken Kingston is the author of Middlewich Hospitality, a fascinating history of licensed premises in Middlewich. Find out more here

Photo: Allan Earl/Middlewich Guardian
Allan Earl has long been a recognised authority on the history of Middlewich. He is the author of Middlewich 900-1900, Middlewich 1900-1950 and Profiles of Middlewich
In this Middlewich Diary entry we take a look at his work:


Photo: David Hubbard/Middlewich Guardian.

And, on the same day, Middlewich's involvement in the Civil War, and the two Battles of Middlewich, will be commemorated with the unveiling of a permanent marker outside the Town Hall. The ceremony will be performed by the Mayor, Cllr Ken Kingston.

Here's a report on the event from our friends at the Middlewich Guardian:


Thursday, 14 April 2016


Bare Bones Marketing/Middlewich Town Council/Signal Radio

by Dave Roberts

Earlier this year Middlewich Town Council appointed BARE BONES MARKETING as the official marketing organisation for the town's FAB Festival, moving the event even further away from its Folk & Boat Festival origins and making clear its intention to once again use the Festival as a means of attracting people to the town.

The council took over the ailing festival in 2012, immediately changing the name from Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival to Middlewich FAB Festival and emphasising the Festival's community roots. 

The FAB Festival was to be regarded as a local event for the people of Middlewich, although visitors were, as always welcomed.

Now the emphasis is once more on promoting the Festival, and the town, far and wide, with new sponsors including Manchester Metropolitan University and Signal Radio stepping in as media partners.

One thing has not changed in all the years since the 'Folk & Boat' started twenty-six years ago; no matter who runs the festival, and no matter what its 'official' name may be, there's always someone ready and willing to express an opinion on the way it's run and promoted.

And sure enough, as soon as the 'Come To Your Senses' campaign started, using a stock image of a girl wearing reflective sunglasses - a favourite trick used by travel agents and holiday companies for many years - one local would-be expert couldn't resist telling us that to use such an image was inappropriate for 'a folk and boat festival'.

But Middlewich's annual summer festival hasn't been the 'folk and boat festival' for four years now; in 2012, when the Town Council took over the running of the event, its first move was to drop the original name in favour of the shorter 'FAB Festival' title. 

The letters 'FAB' no longer stand for the words 'Folk And Boat'.

This signified a break with the past and enabled the event's new organisers to broaden the appeal of the festival, introducing new types of music and activities which the original title would have precluded.

Of course, to some people, the event will always be 'the Folk & Boat'.

But, in its 26th year, Middlewich's original music festival has moved on.

Press advertising as featured in the Winsford & Middlewich Guardian

Sunday, 10 April 2016


AVAILABLE NOW! Middlewich Town Council's annual guide to what's happening in Middlewich all through the year, including the up-and-coming MIDDLEWICH PAST AND PRESENT EXHIBITION at the Town Hall (30th April), the FAB FESTIVAL (17th-19th June), the CLASSIC CAR & BIKE SHOW (16th-17th July), Middlewich's very own TOWN CRIER COMPETITION (30th July), The MAYOR'S CHARITY BOAT PULL (19th- 21st August) MIDDLEWICH ANNUAL SHOW (10th September), SCRIBE (MIDDLEWICH LITERARY FESTIVAL) (13th-16th October), REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY (13th November) and the CHRISTMAS MAKERS MARKET (17th December)

Details of these and all the other events happening in Middlewich between now and December, together with sections on events in our sister towns, Winsford and Northwich, can all be found in this handy pocket guide! Pick up your copy today!

And don't forget, you can also keep up with what's happening here in Middlewich with Devlin Hobson, our very own Town Crier!