Sunday, 31 July 2016

HELP FOR HEROES FUNDRAISING WEEKEND 2016: THANK YOU!

HELP FOR HEROES FUNDRAISING WEEKEND, JUNE 11th and 12th 2016
Many thanks to everyone who supported us and to everyone at Help For Heroes and Tesco Middlewich.

Special thanks to our team of volunteers:

Ann Hough
Michelle Hardy
James Hardy
Alex Hardy
Cynthia Beevers
Tom Beevers
David Roberts

and extra special thanks to CHLOE HARDY

Lynne Hardy

We collected £285. 69 for this very worthwhile cause.


www.helpforheroes.org.uk

First published 12th June 2016
Updated and re-published 31st July 2016

Saturday, 30 July 2016

A MIDDLEWICH MYSTERY: BRASS CAPS


Beverley Innes has asked us for help with this Middlewich mystery, after picking up these heavy  brass caps, inscribed with the words 'J. Henshall, Builder, Middlewich' at an antiques market in Ludlow, Shropshire.
They're 7cm  high and 6cm wide (that's 2 and-a-half inches x 2 and-a-bit inches in old money).
But what were they used for? 
And who were Henshall's Builders in Middlewich?

We know that Henshall is a common Middlewich name. 
There were property owners in Webbs Lane right up until the 1970s with the names 'Mrs Yoxall and Mr Henshall', and one of the marshalls during the town's Relief of Mafeking Celebrations was a Mr Henshall.

But what of Henshall the Builders?

Where were they situated, and what would they have used these brass caps for?
Beverly would love to know, and so would we.

If you've any idea, get in touch through the usual channels.

UPDATE:

By 11pm on the day of publication of this diary entry we were getting close to the truth, courtesy of  Jon Ranwell who recommended that we google 'carriage hub caps' 
It's very likely that that is exactly what these interesting brass caps are, and that 'Henshall, Builder' does not refer to a 'builder' in the general sense, but to the builder of a horse-drawn vehicle!

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSES MOUTH: A LETTER FROM HISTORY


by Dave Roberts

Here's a  piece of real Middlewich history, taken from our family's private collection. It pinpoints a moment in time; a moment when, for one Middlewich worker at least, it became clear that times were changing and that what had seemed like a secure and reliable job would soon be no more.
The letterhead itself is worthy of note, as it's that of the Nestle Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company. Nestle and Anglo-Swiss had been great rivals in the  nineteenth century (Middlewich's Anglo-Swiss factory having been built in 1872) but merged in 1905.

Note the telegraphic address, 'Nestanglo' and the telephone number which, as late as 1931, was 'Middlewich no. 6'



Until the 1930s the 'milk factory' was a major Middlewich employer and was supplied with milk by numerous farmers in the rural districts surrounding the town.

According to Allan Earl in Middlewich 1900-1950 (Cheshire Country Publishing 1994),on cattle auction days, which were also normal market days, the town was alive with livestock and with farmers taking churns full of milk to the Webbs Lane factory. The queues would stretch down Finneys Lane, and all the way down Webbs Lane into Pepper Street.

Relations between the factory and the farmers  were not always harmonious, though; in 1912 a dispute arose over the price the factory was prepared to pay for milk and continued for weeks, with the local tradespeople complaining that the business they normally enjoyed from the farmers was severely curtailed as they had not been coming into Middlewich to take milk to the factory.

The same thing happened again during World War I when, in 1915, the factory tried to reduce the price it was prepared to pay for the farmers' milk.

The surplus milk which the factory wouldn't buy was made into cheese which was then auctioned to help the war effort.

Then, in August 1931,  it was announced that the factory was to close.


The company had been experiencing problems with, among other things, brine subsidence which led to a loss in production and thus profits.

You'll notice that the letter which William Shore received makes no mention of a permanent closure but talks of a temporary termination of his employment. Perhaps someone thought the situation might change? And the fact that William's address (actually in New King Street) is not given leads us to suppose that the letter was passed to him by hand at the factory. In the present day, he'd probably have been sent a text message.

Incidentally, from the perspective of 2016, it's interesting to note that quite a few companies had problems in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Among them was the Electro-Bleach Company in Cledford Lane, which was closed and demolished in 1929.

This was on the site that, after nearly becoming ERF Ltd's works in 1933,  later became the Royal Venton Pottery Works and is currently (and very controversially) about to be turned into the ANSA Waste Recycling Facility.

Naturally many local farmers were affected by the closure of the 'milk factory' (100 of them according to Allan Earl) as were 180 employees of the company, among them William Shore, who received the above letter just a week after the farmers' contracts expired at the end of September that year.

Reading about local history is always interesting, if you're that way inclined; but to read about a pivotal event in Middlewich history from a letter like this - to read it straight from the horse's mouth, just as William Shore would have done eighty-five years ago, is almost startling.

Incidentally, this is the same William Shore we heard about here.

In 1932 the Condensed Milk Factory became a silk mill.

                   BIG LOCK AND NESTLES MILK FACTORY 1920s
                  


 With grateful acknowledgments to Allan Earl.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

GATER'S PASTRYCOOK and CONFECTIONER BILL 1954


Here's another of Carole Hughes' collection of old bills and everyday documents. It dates back, as can be seen, fifty-eight years to 1954 and gives us cause to revisit a couple of photographs we've seen before..
Gater's was a rather high-class pastrycook and confectioner situated next door to what was then the Crosville Bus Garage in Wheelock Street, more recently home to the Mococo Cafe and soon to become 'starter' flats for young people.
Gater's shop can be seen in the photograph below to the right of the cafe.



Despite being empty for many years, the appearance of the shop remains very much the same as it always was, with its distinctive 'gate' across the entrance (although the gate itself looks to be  a replacement for an earlier, slightly higher, one, as seen in the third photo (below) from 1987 when T&M. Autoparts occupied most of the premises. Gater's shop was, evidently, in use at the time but it's very difficult to see what was being sold. Can anybody shed any light on this?

UPDATE (23rd July 2016): By 2016 all had changed again with the closure of the Mococo Cafe and its replacement by flats (still, though, under the auspices of the Middlewich Community Church).

See: MD Archive: MOCOCO CAFE TO CLOSE (JULY 2012)
 Gator's former shop was included in the conversion and the shop front with its plate glass window and gated entrance finally disappeared, to be replaced by ordinary windows. Interestingly, the black fascia board seen in the above photo was retained, presumably because of the difficulty removing it would have caused, and so at least one clue to the building's former use remains.
(up-to-date photo coming soon).

Photo: Carole Hughes Collection/Diane Parr

The bill itself, for 30 teas at 3s 6d each, adding up to a grand total of £5. 5s 0d (or, to put it another way, five guineas) has something of an air of melancholy about it.
The teas were actually funeral teas and were sold to local undertaker Len Dean to be consumed by those attending a funeral in the Sant family.
But the slight  air of glamour which hung around Gater's is reflected in the  unusual and rather sophisticated  typeface used on its paperwork.

First published 23rd July 2012

Updated and re-published 23rd July 2013
and 23rd July 2016

NEWTON COURT SUMMER FAYRE 23rd JULY 2016 (ARCHIVED)


ARCHIVED

Newton Court
FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

First published 13th July 2016
Re-published 23rd July 2016

Thursday, 7 July 2016

MIDDLEWICH DIARY MASTHEAD: SUMMER 2013 , CANAL IDYLL


Our masthead for Summer 2013 featured a photograph by local photographer Bill Armsden taken on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal.
The bridge, one of many of this style in the district is, unusually, not whitewashed like most such structures. It carries the back road, Coal Pit Lane, which runs from Chester Road to Stanthorne Crossroads near Wimboldsley.
Many people have remarked on the beauty of Britain's canals in modern times and the contrast between their appearance during the industrial era and in the present day.
But in fact, the SUC Middlewich Branch has always been almost completely rural in character. It was built to link the Shropshire Union and Trent & Mersey canals together  (the link , of course, only being properly completed in 1829 with the building of the Wardle Canal at the Middlewich end).
The only industry we can think of on the banks of the branch canal is the tannery in Sutton Lane which later became home to Sutton Lane Engineering and is now the site of Waterside Mews, and it is doubtful if this made much, if any, use of the canal.

Here's the original photograph, courtesy of Bill:



Monday, 4 July 2016

THE WESLEYAN METHODIST CHURCH, LEWIN STREET, circa 1973

If you own the copyright on this photograph, please let us know.
(This diary entry incorporates one from 7th July 2011, which has now been deleted)

We're dating this photo from the Paul Hough Collection as 1973 because of the tell-tale signs of recent demolition to the right. It's the unmistakeable frontage of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Lewin Street, with its 'four-pronged' tower.
Of the buildings in this part of Lewin Street, Seddon's wagon repair shop and associated buildings, which were to the right of this splendid building, were the first to go - a fact that enabled us to more accurately date this slide by Jack Stanier - and the few bits of rubble on the right are all that was left of those buildings when this photograph was taken.
Our regular contributor Bill Eaton tells us that those stone gateposts from the front of the church now perform the same function outside Ravenscroft Cottages in King Street, home of the late Frank Smith
The church was built of a particularly attractive type of red brick with stone trimmings and, when the weather conditions were right, perhaps towards sunset on a Summer day, looked positively resplendent.
We were able, with the aid of the irreplaceable Kodachrome film, to capture something of that elusive quality in this slide:

© Salt Town Productions 2011

In its heyday the interior of the church was as magnificent as its exterior.



Although this poor quality image can't really do it justice, you can get something of an inkling of the Victorian splendour of the inside of the church.
According to information obtained in the 1990s from Messrs Andrews and Williams, authors of a book about Middlewich, several features of the interior were saved and can be found in other places of worship: The pipe organ was installed in Lostock Gralam Chapel; several pews found their way to Rudheath and Lach Dennis, and a prayer desk from the church is now in the Lady Chapel, across the road at St Michael & All Angels.
As regular Middlewich Diary readers will know, the Salinae Centre and its associated grounds now occupy this site, as mentioned in this entry showing the Seddon's site next door.
To see how the chapel fitted into its surroundings see this entry.
This attractive building replaced an earlier one on the same site.

The original Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Lewin Street (Photo courtesy of Paul Hurley/Mid-Cheshire Through Time). According to Allan Earl this building was demolished 'around 1905'.
Facebook Feedback:

Geraldine Williams Brings back memories of my Gran. It was on her circuit of all the harvest festivals in the town.
Might it have been built at the same time as the Victoria Building (Technical School) - a similar ornate red-brick edifice which was, presumably, a Diamond Jubilee commemoration of something similar?

Jain Talbot Why was it pulled down? Such a beautiful building.

Dave Roberts In common with all the buildings in that part of Lewin Street it had become unsafe. This chapel, and the adjacent school, were large, heavy buildings, and the ground they were built on unstable. It also sloped steeply away from road level down to what had been the Croco Valley (shared with the canal by the time these buildings were erected). You'll notice that Salinae has been built at a lower level to partly compensate for the slope.

Originally published 14th March 2012
Updated and re-published 4th July 2016




Saturday, 2 July 2016

MIDDLEWICH DIARY MASTHEAD: JULY 2016 DOUBLE RAINBOW

Our masthead for July 2016 features one of those 'once in a lifetime' photos as a double rainbow over Middlewich is captured by Jennifer Jane Snelson.

A typical English summer evening, the 1st of  July, and the usual  combination of driving rain and sunny intervals brought the familiar phenomenon about. 
Jennifer Jane was in the right place at the right time and managed to capture the rainbows arching over the  Parish Church in the leaden  Middlewich skies, while evening sunshine bathes the town centre in light.