Thursday, 30 June 2016

MIDDLEWICH REFLECTS: ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED



Middlewich Commemoration of the  Somme

Kerry Fletcher writes:

As part of our Middlewich Reflects Great War Project, we wish to invite everyone to join us for a special commemoration at Middlewich Bull Ring on Friday 1st July at 11am.
In partnership with Middlewich Town Council, Middlewich Heritage Trust and Middlewich Royal British Legion, we invite people to join us in paying tribute to those caught up in the conflict.
The service will take place at the War Memorial, attended by the Mayor of Middlewich, invited organisations, Middlewich High School, Wimboldsley Primary School and staff from Tesco Superstore, who will all lay wreaths. There will also be readings from the High School pupils own poems based on life in the Trenches.

We appreciate that not everyone can attend the commemoration, so we have created the ‘Middlewich WWI Window Displays @ Middlewich Town Centre’. Running from Lewin Street Victoria building and the library through Hightown, the Accord Clinic and Ayaan’s Indian. Wheelock Street displays at J D Floral Designs, the Pet Shop, Chisholm’s Newsagents, St Luke’s Shop and Triffic Togs. We’ve also taken over the front window of Tesco Superstore on Southway. There is a trail guide at each venue, displays are up until 10th July.


Locations of window displays in Middlewich
Illustrations courtesy of Middlewich Town Council
Press cutting courtesy of Middlewich Heritage/Middlewich Town Council/Kerry Fletcher

MIDDLEWICH VISION SKATE OFF 2016 - CANCELELD


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

SPIRIT OF THE FESTIVAL

Photo courtesy of Kim Garland/Middlewich Today
 For the 2016 Middlewich FAB Festival Michelle Parsons of local Facebook Group Middlewich Today had the bright idea of running a competition, open to mobile phone camera users only, for pictures capturing the spirit of the Festival.

Festival organiser Dave Thompson offered a prize of  two tickets for the 2017 festival for the winner, and members of the group cast their votes for a final shortlist of eight photos. The Middlewich Diary is pleased to present the first and second prize winners for those who haven't seen them.

The first prize was won by Kim Garland for her excellent photo of this year's Festival Queen Chloe Garland in the company of some very distinguished avian visitors from just down the road in the village of Moulton.

This photo is very historic for two reasons; firstly because it shows Chloe on what must have been one of her very first official engagements, doing just what she will be doing all over the local area between now and June next year - meeting people of all shapes and sizes. Though rarely, perhaps, people dressed in such an unusual fashion.

MIDDLEWICH ROSE QUEEN 2016 CROWNED (MIDDLEWICH GUARDIAN REPORT)

This photo is also historic because it captures something unique: a visit by the Moulton Crows to a neighbouring town. They normally only perform their 'Crow Dance' in Moulton itself. All credit to festival director Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council who persuaded them to break their 'golden rule' and perform in Middlewich as part of the 10th Anniversary of the revival of the original Moulton Crows.

The Moulton Crow Dance, and the Moulton Crow Fair date back to the 1920s. Details of its history can be found on the BBC's Domesday Reloaded site:

MOULTON CROW FAIR


And here's a more detailed history from Kim Garland:

The Moulton Crows started in the 1920's when many of the men had been laid off from working in the Salt Mines.

They started dancing in competitions to win money. They won so many competitions that they stopped entering them in order to give others a chance of winning, and made paid appearances instead.

The dance was traditionally known as "The Relic of the Cornfields" and was originally danced by men dressed all in black with  yellow beaks.

The dance also features a farmer and a scarecrow who comes to life at the end and follows the crows.

Over the years the dance slowly declined until it disappeared altogether.

The tradition started again around the late 70's/early 80's. This time it was the local school children who performed the dance.
The children's version of the dance was performed for over thirty years, and there aren't many Moulton children who weren't 'crows' at some time in their lives!

As so often happens,  this tradition also slowly died. 

Then, on  Saturday 15th July 2006  a group of men from the village restarted the tradition of performing the dance at the annual Crow Fair (I  know the specific date of this as it was the day I got married and the whole village was lining the streets waiting for the crows as I arrived at church!)

The men have gone back to performing the original, traditional dance as performed back in the 1920's.

There is a great shroud of secrecy around the Crows.

Their identity is to be kept secret at all times (although it's hard to maintain this secrecy when they all congregate in the pub ready for rehearsal!)

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the revival of the  Moulton Crows, and this is one of the reasons why they decided to perform at the FAB Festival. 

Kim Garland
June 2016

The gentleman on the right, by the way, is festival veteran and melodeon virtuoso Ian Murfitt, who came to Middlewich by boat in the 1990s intending to stay for a little while. He's still here and very much a part of our community.


Photo Courtesy of Rachel Humphreys/Middlewich Today
Second prize was awarded to Rachel Humphreys for this evocative photo which was christened The Boy On The Bridge by group members. It perfectly captures the air of anticipation in the days before the FAB Festival each year as canal boats from far and wide gather for the event.

As it became clear just how successful the 2016 festival was going to be, someone commented that the fact that Middlewich hosted this amazing event year after year meant that living here was 'like having Christmas twice a year'!

You can, of course, see canal boats in Middlewich any day of the year, but in the week before the annual FAB Festival the amount of boats on the Trent and Mersey and the SUC Middlewich Branch, and the sheer variety of the boats to be seen, with historic working boats mixed in with pleasure craft and modern-day trading boats of all kinds, is truly something to behold.

Don't you just know that The Boy On the  Bridge just can't wait for the festival to start?

You can find the other short-listed competition photos, along with many other pictures of this year's FAB Festival on the Middlewich Today group:

MIDDLEWICH TODAY ON FACEBOOK

Dave Roberts
Editor

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

TRADITIONAL CANAL PAINTING AT FAB FESTIVAL 2016

Photo: Nigel Taylor (used by kind permission of Nicky Jayne)
Here's a superb study by Nigel Taylor, which turned up on the Middlewich Today Facebook group, and we thought too good not to be preserved for posterity here on the Middlewich Diary.
It shows traditional canal painting and was taken at this year's FAB Festival in Middlewich.
A craftsman photographed by a craftsman is the phrase which immediately occurred to us.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

MIDDLEWICH FAB FESTIVAL 2017


THE BULLRING EARLY 20th CENTURY


by Dave Roberts

We're very grateful to Kath and Barry Walklate of Warmingham Lane for this beautiful framed photograph of the Bullring, Middlewich, which they came across in a shop in Cornwall while on holiday there about fourteen years ago.
It's rather an unusual photograph which, we think, dates back to around 1908, or possibly even earlier.
The main clue to the approximate date lies in the fact that The Carbineer Inn, halfway up the slope of Hightown (its sign can be seen in front of the church tower) was, according to Allan Earl, forced to close around 1909 because it was out of date and would have been too expensive to modernise. The Junction Inn on Brooks Lane Bridge closed at the same time for the same reason.
To the left of that Inn sign is another shop sign painted, in the fashion of the day, under the eaves of the shop's roof, which, as Kath pointed out when we were looking at the photo, is almost a pointer to  shopping days to come in Middlewich. We're talking, of course, about Summerfield, a name which would make a comeback - albeit with a different spelling - eighty-odd years later when Gateway became Somerfields.
Now, of course, it's Tesco's main Middlewich store.
Across the road from  Summerfields and the Carbineer are a group of very old buildings which would later be demolished to make way for Fitton's/Vernon's butchers (in the 1920s) and the National Westminster Bank (originally the National & Provincial)
Moving to the right we can see Kinsey's Grocery shop.
Interestingly, again according to Allan Earl, it was Mr William Kinsey, owner of this shop and proud possessor of one of the few telephones in Middlewich at that time, who received the news of the Relief of Mafeking on behalf of the town in May 1900. He told the Council of the news and an impromptu torch-lit procession, accompanied by the Centenary Band,  was organised on the spot.
By the 1950s Kinsey's had become Cooper's, as seen here, but disappeared at the end of the 1960s to make way for the Co-operative Superstore.
Next to Kinsey's is the County Stores, with its prominent adverts for GIPSY Brand black lead.
The curly-haired little girl in the doorway, according to Kath, looks very much like her Mother.
And that crowd of children has obviously gathered because of the photographer being there.
In the early 20th century someone taking photographs was a rarity and must have been fascinating to those children.
Cameras in those days were enormous polished wood and brass boxes mounted on equally enormous wooden tripods and used large glass plates instead of negatives.
More than likely the photographer would have had his head underneath the voluminous black cloth necessary at that time for him to see the scene he was photographing, upside down in his ground-glass viewfinder.
The children must have thought him some kind of magician.
By coincidence I walked by the very same spot today with my Blackberry phone snapping digital photos right left and centre, and no one gave me a second glance.
The shop behind that ornate gas-lamp on the left was Lees Butchers (but always called, in Middlewich fashion 'Butcher Lees'). 
This shop, oddly enough, served its time as the National & Provincial Bank before being demolished to make way for the war memorial in its original setting, the bank by then having built its new premises across the road.*
The gas-lamp itself is interesting. It served to light up the whole of the town centre and was also the traditional place for the Town Crier to stand to make his pronouncements. Originally, before the widespead use of newspapers, these would have included 'news headlines' letting people know what was happening in the wider world, but later became much more localised with news of Middlewich events, sales being held in the local pubs, and all the other information needed to make small town life run smoothly.
Thus our present Town Crier, Devlin Hobson, is carrying out very much the same role as his distinguished predecessor and when he stands under one of the new LED street lamps at the Wheelock Street end of the amphitheatre, he's very much following in the old Town Crier's footsteps.

Many thanks to Kath and Barry for letting us see this fascinating photograph.


The Carbineer Inn on Hightown during one of those well-attended Middlewich celebrations. (Photo: Ken Kingston. From his book Middlewich Hospitality
[Middlewich U3A Local History Group 2014])


*UPDATES: What had by 2015 become the National Westminster (or NatWest) Bank on Hightown was, in the late Summer of that year, being converted into a carpet shop. Only the general design of the building betrays the fact that it was ever a bank.

In the event the carpet shop never materialised either and as at Summer 2016, the premises remain empty and waiting to be put to some good use.
Also during the Summer of 2015 our town's one remaining bank, Barclays, announced a reduction in its hours of business - a sign that its days, too, may be numbered. This would leave Middlewich with no bank premises at all. A sign of the times.




First published 20th March 2012
Re-published 16th September 2015
and 19th June 2016



Friday, 17 June 2016

MIDDLEWICH FAB FESTIVAL 2016

Middlewich FAB Festival/Middlewich Town Council/Bare Bones Marketing

Well, we've finally reached the highlight of Middlewich's calendar, with the 26th Middlewich FAB Festival which starts tonight (17th June).
So much has been written about this year's festival that we feel that it would be somewhat superfluous for the Middlewich Diary to repeat the listings and information which can be easily found elsewhere. So we'll confine ourselves to pointing you towards those other sources of information and bringing to your attention some of the additional items which may have escaped your attention.
There's always so much to see and do over the FAB weekend that, with the best will in the world, you'll never be able to see it all.
The best thing to do is to just get out there, walk around the town, and the canals and revel in this Middlewich Event to end all Middlewich Events, in all its glory!


Middlewich FAB Festival/Middlewich Town Council/Bare Bones Marketing
As always, your best and primary source of information is the free Festival Guide which is available all over the town, particularly in the official fringe venues - the local businesses which ensure the festival's survival by supporting it year after year,

This year, these are:

Jackie and Ken at The Big Lock
Liz and Pat at The Boar's Head
Dean and crew at The King's Lock Inn
Sue and Greg at Middlewich Narrowboats
Lesley and all at Middlewich RBL Club
Craig and Damian at The Narrowboat Inn
Sue and Simon at the Newton Brewery
Paul and everyone at The White Bear

Full details of FAB 26, together with links to archive material from the past, can be found at the festival's site:

MIDDLEWICH FAB FESTIVAL
********************************************************************
Here are some of the things happening over the weekend. There is, of course, much much more:


Middlewich FAB Festival/Middlewich Rose Fete & Children's Festival
Bob Webb Music

Middlewich Parish Church
Middlewich Rock & Roll
 
The White Horse

Sons Of Clogger
Middlewich United Reformed Church



Middlewich Diary Masthead 1st-19th June 2016


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

THE MIDDLEWICH DIARY: FIVE YEARS ON

The Middlewich Diary celebrated its first birthday on the 11th June 2016.
The idea for the blog came from the interest generated after we posted several colour pictures of Middlewich on Facebook, starting in April 2011.
After a few weeks, and after many people had asked for more, we began to post the pictures on the now long-defunct 'Salt Town Site', the Salt Town Poets website. 
This proved to be very time-consuming and inefficient and we looked around for a better way of  publishing the photographs on the web.
At that time the Crewe.tv blog was very popular and several people got in touch to suggest that we created a blog along similar lines.
The original idea was to publish our faded and battered collection of colour slides, mostly taken during the years 1967-1972, but we soon realised that the blogging medium could be used for much more than that; it could be used to present photographs and articles about Middlewich and its history, as well as promoting what was happening in the town in the 21st century.

'A Middlewich Diary', as it was then called, at middlewichdiary.blogspot.com, got off to a bit of a shaky start:

 
But, as we got to grips with the relatively new concept of blogging, we soon got into our stride
and began to feature more and more photographs from our own collection and from other sources.

Then, as now, we had an almost pathological need to explain ourselves, even finding it necessary to tell people what the grainy background of the blog was supposed to represent.

After a while 'A Middlewich Diary' had become 'The Middlewich Diary' - mostly because that's what everyone called it anyway.

By April 2012 the blog had become popular enough for us to be given one of the Town Council's 'Local Hero' Awards (forerunners of the 'Middlewich Oscars')

The Award was also made in recognition of work on the campaign to re-open the Middlewich Rail link to passengers.

We're planning a re-launch of the Middlewich Diary once all the hullabaloo of the FAB Festival is out of the way, and we're also hoping  to tackle the large backlog of photos and articles which a combination of circumstances has caused.
 We still have a lot to tell you about the history of our town and the way it is growing and developing (not always, it has to be said, to everyone's satisfaction) and we hope you'll stay with us for many years into the future.

In the meantime, let's take a look back to what we like to think of as the start of The Middlewich Diary Proper, five years ago.

First of all, here's the Diary welcome (since updated and adapted to provide up-to-date contact details):

WELCOME TO THE MIDDLEWICH DIARY

...and here's the first Diary 'entry'. A look at an iconic Middlewich building which once stood on the corner of Kinderton Street and King Street. Just the sight of this lovely old building is always sure to induce sighs of nostalgia from those who remember it.




Although we try to steer clear of the blatantly untrue 'Middlewich used to be lovely but now it's ruined' school of thought, no one can deny  that our town has never been the same since the sad demise of Moreton's Farmhouse.

MORETON'S FARMHOUSE 1970


Sunday, 12 June 2016

HELP FOR HEROES FUNDRAISING WEEKEND AT TESCO MIDDLEWICH 2016 (ARCHIVED)



ARCHIVED
SUNDAY 12th JUNE
Good morning!  It's day two of H4H's Fundraising weekend! Watch out for us again between 10am and 4pm today in the foyer of Tesco in Southway, collecting money for HELP FOR HEROES. Many thanks to the volunteers who will be manning the stall, to TESCO for giving us this opportunity, and to YOU for supporting us!


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

FAB 2016: MIDDLEWICH ROCK & ROLL! (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED

featured photo: CLIFF ASTLES

SATURDAY AFTERNOON...

SATURDAY EVENING...

Derek and Julie write from 'Valinor', 15 Waters- Edge Mews, Middlewich CW10 0GL...

Hi! We have pleasure in inviting you to join us for a good afternoon's Rock 'n' Roll at this year's FAB Festival!
We are meeting at the KINDERTON HOUSE HOTEL at 11.30am to give us all time to get ourselves together, and of course the bar will be open!
We will commence dancing at the KINDERTON HOUSE HOTEL at 12 noon and will be dancing in front of the Hotel until 12.40pm.
We will then move to the AMPHITHEATRE (Middlewich Town Centre) and will dance there from 1pm until 1 45pm.
For those who wish to return to the KINDERTON HOUSE HOTEL there will be live entertainment.

This year, for the first time, we'll be holding one of our monthly Rock 'n' Roll gigs on Saturday evening at our usual venue, the MIDDLEWICH ROYAL BRITISH LEGION CLUB where we have
MIKE BYRNE AND THE SUNROCKERS supported by CADILLAC DAVE'S DISCO.
Tickets are at the usual price of £7.

Please remember that we will be dancing outside in the afternoon on concrete etc., so suitable footwear is advised (NOT your best dance shoes!)

Those of you have have danced at previous festivals will know what a pleasant afternoon we always have and this is a great chance to do some dancing to CADILLAC DAVE'S MOBILE DISCO!

We hope that you will be able to join us, and we'd appreciate confirmation so that we can have an idea of numbers.

or ring us on 01606 836790.

Best regards,

See also: MIDDLEWICH ROCK & ROLL DANCERS AT M-FAB

                         featuring some great photos by CLIFF ASTLES









FAB FESTIVAL 2016: LOST IN THE MIST LIVE AT THE NEWTON BREWERY 18th JUNE! (ARCHIVED)


ARCHIVED
They say Talent Will Out....Well, so will Lost In The Mist unless carefully watched. And here we are looking forward to our annual pilgrimage back to dear old Middlewich for the FAB Festival. See us LIVE at the Newton Brewery on Saturday 18th June from 6.30pm onwards. Lord Webb of Hassall Green on guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and harmonica, John Hopkins on various bass things and ukelele, Symone Dale with a voice to die for and Mr Roberts, standing around looking confused. You can't beat it for Summer evening entertainment, you know.