Saturday, 21 October 2017


Posted at 1.25pm. The country was being hit by 'Storm Brian'

(Eventbrite link)

Folks, sadly the Middlewich weather forecast has changed for the worse. A collective decision has been made to CANCEL the remainder of the market day for safety reasons. We thank you for your continued support.

Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council

Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council

Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council
Middlewich Vision/Middlewich Town Council



Our MD Masthead from the 6th - 21st October 2017

Published: 16th September 2017, 6th October 2017,
20th October 2017, 21st October

Thursday, 19 October 2017



Easily winning any 'first pipe band to use St Michael's Way' competition, the Black Watch Association Pipe Band lead the procession from the town centre to the British Legion Club on the occasion of the re-dedication of the town's main war memorial in 1972.
The 'new road' is not yet quite finished; its final tarmac surface is yet to be applied and, in the background, some last remnants of the town's industrial past are lingering on. 
Behind the lamp post, centre right,  Henry Seddon's offices in Pepper Street can be seen, with part of the works to their right.
The small row of salt workers' cottages which adjoined the salt works offices are now all that remains of Pepper Street.
A brand new wooden fence divides the site of the old salt works from the new 'inner relief road'. If you follow the line of the fence to the middle left of the photo, you can see Middlewich's STD telephone exchange, built in 1967 in what was then its own small compound off Pepper Street.
The coming of St Michael's Way brought the building into greater public prominence as it now stands on one side of the road and has been much altered and enlarged, though it's doubtful if anyone ever notices it.
On the road itself, along with the ubiquitous plastic cones is a paraffin lamp of a type once used to mark road works at night and now superseded by flashing yellow battery lamps. These road lamps are currently to be found in many a trendy antique shop.


First published 19th October 2011
Expanded and re-published 19th October 2017

Tuesday, 17 October 2017


Photo courtesy of Diane Parr
by Dave Roberts
We're going back twenty-five years once more to the Middlewich of 1987 with these pictures from the Carole Hughes Collection taken by her friend Diane Parr.
The second photo in this diary entry focuses on the interior of one of the town's most fondly-remembered shops but, before we take a look at it, it's well worth looking at the picture above in its own right as it shows the way things were in those days when it came to shopping in Middlewich town centre.
To the left of the picture, next to the church and bathed in sunshine, you can just make out Brockley's paint, wallpaper, and decorating supplies shop with its side window facing the lower part of Hightown.
Brockley's moved from this location to a shop near the top end of Wheelock Street not long after this picture was taken.
Next to Brockley's is the shop we've immortalised as 'The Butchered Butchers Shop'.
Daniel Preston managed to get pictures of this unfortunate shop just after it closed at the end of 1988 and fell into the hands of people with scant regard for its history and architectural merits.
Then comes the NatWest Bank (which, in those days, kept regular banking hours like any other bank) and the Co-op, by this time no longer billing itself as 'The Co-operative Superstore', but still boasting its rather impressive canopy, albeit with a small blue Co-op logo replacing the original sign.
Looking at this nondescript building today, with its modest Tesco Express and Pineland shops it's hard to imagine that it could ever be described as a 'superstore', but appearances are deceptive.
Much of the building is taken up now by a large storage area at the rear of the premises belonging to Pineland. This is the area which was once the Co-op's furniture department, reached by a rather impressive staircase from the ground floor.
The removal of the canopy from the front of the building has served to emphasise its loss of stature.
Next comes another long lost Middlewich institution, Skellon's shoe shop, where we were all taken as children to be fussed over by assistants with tape measures, rulers and 'Clark's Children's Foot Gauges' to ensure that we were always given shoes which fitted properly, thus avoiding our being maimed for life by shoes which were too big or too small.
Next comes that wonderful shop which everyone remembers with a great deal of affection - G Samuel & Son, which we'll be examining the interior of shortly and, finally, Reg Taylor's Newsagents, once the employers of the redoubtable Daniel Preston and Cliff Astles, both pioneers of the art of paper shredding.
Which brings us to the next remarkable photograph:

Photo courtesy of Diane Parr
Well, whoever would have thought we'd ever see this scene again, even if it is only in photographic form?
 It's the interior of the legendary Samuel's shop - technically, at least, an ironmongers but in reality stocking a bewildering array of household goods of all kinds: plastic buckets, seeds, disinfectant, paint, dusters, walking sticks, coat-hangers, garden tools, ribbon, washing baskets, clothes dyes....and that's just a random selection of what can be seen in this photograph.
The two Samuels - Senior and Junior - were seldom stumped, whatever you asked them for and if they should happen to be 'temporarily out of stock' on some item or other, you could be sure they'd get it for you in very short order.
It was a delight to shop there; the Samuels had that old-fashioned courteous way of dealing with the public which we all miss so much these days and the words 'thank you!' and 'ta!' were bandied about freely.
In fact, in the end, Peter Samuel adopted his own portmanteau word and would say 'thankyou-ta!' at the slightest provocation.
Wonderful people.
You get something of the same feeling today when shopping at Middlewich DIY.
We're grateful to Diane Parr for having the foresight to take this photo and to Carole for allowing us to bring it to you.

Facebook Feedback
(When Carole Hughes first published this photo on her Facebook page there was a great reaction):

Lynne Towers I love this photo. Fantastic Samuels!

Karen Reynolds It sold everything you needed!

Maureen Condra I called in there a few times when I was over for a visit.

Christine May The shop always had a nice smell.

Carole Hughes It did, Christine. It was a great shop.

Dave Roberts Does anyone know the older Mr Samuels first name? I know the son was called Peter. They were both a delight to do business with, full of charm and old-fashioned courtesy. And yes, the shop sold everything you could think of, and if it wasn't in stock they'd get it for you.
(I'd still like to know this - Ed)

Maureen Condra I bought a lot of things there. I still have a tea-towel and some cups I bought there.

Christine May I'm so glad I didn't do the stock-take!

Wendy Sproston My Mum used to go in there for everything.

Paul Hough What a fantastic shop. I've still got a kitchen knife I bought there. Twenty-odd years old and still going strong!

Dave Roberts Absolutely wonderful! Who would have thought we'd ever see it again, even if it is only a photograph?


Since this entry was written, the NatWest Bank has closed its doors for good and the premises are, by all accounts, going to become a carpet shop.* Pineland, too, has  closed down and the Choklat Bar, which was based in Reg Taylor's shop, closed down after a partial collapse of its floor on New Years Eve 2013. The likelihood is that it will be absorbed into the neighbouring Chimichangos Mexican restaurant.

Update (2017): In fact what used to be the Choklat Bar is now Maggie Finn's Tea shop.

* In the Spring of 2017 Manchester Carpets opened the shop for the sale of beds and mattresses.

In October 2017 'Maggie Finn's Tea Shop' relocated to Maggie Finn's Tea Garden in Canal Terrace and Reg Taylor's former shop underwent yet another transformation, this time into  the offices of a web design company.

First published 6th April 2012
Updated January 2015, Spring 2017 and 17th October 2017

Thursday, 12 October 2017


We only caught this one at the very last minute. Less than a week after our photo was taken this derelict house in Nantwich Road was reduced to a pile of rubble. It stood  just a few yards away from the aqueduct, and at the very top of the unadopted road which runs  along the top of the steep embankment above the roadway and provides access to the houses which adjoin the school playing fields. It could also be seen from the top end of Hannah's Walk, near the point where it joins the canal towpath, and from the towpath itself.
It lay derelict for many years, with its garden very overgrown and, as can be seen from the photo, was vandalised and eventually gutted by fire.
I noticed that something was happening  in the middle of September. Workmen were on site clearing the dense vegetation and building bonfires to burn it and some of the remaining timber from the house. I took the above photo and, the next time I was in the area the bulldozers were on site and had knocked the house down, leaving only a pile of rubble.
Passers by who were watching the demolition told me that they'd heard that local builder Andy Clarke had bought the house and land.
No doubt quite soon a new house and garden will occupy this spot*. In the meantime, does anyone know anything of the history of this house? From its location, and from the style of the house, it must have been a luxurious home in its day. The photograph below shows what appears to have been a fishpond, complete with rustic bridge, in what remains of the garden; a testament to happier times and better days.
* More than one, in fact. See Facebook feedback, below
Facebook feedback:
Stephen Koralski We used to go in there as teenagers and the electricity still worked. It was where I met a lot of friends - shame on who ever burnt it down,it was a nice place!

Stephen Dent:Outline planning permission was granted in 2009 to build 6 new detached houses on this land which was formerly 123 Nantwich Road. Go to to see the detail

Originally published 13th October 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 13th October 2017

Tuesday, 10 October 2017


The Cotton Houses. A very good artist's impression of what the houses looked like. This is a rear view of the properties originally painted from memory by Edward Lightfoot in 2003 under the instruction of Mrs Harriet Grainger, and supplied to me by Mrs Sheila Davies (Harriet's daughter).
by Malcolm Hough
The Cotton Houses were situated on the corner of Manor Lane and St, Ann’s Road, Middlewich. 
We lived at number 6  Manor Lane from 1953 until 1958 when they were condemned. 
I think they were owned at the time by the Smallwood family, relations of John Garner the local builder, who demolished them within a couple of years and also built the houses which are now on the same site.

There were six cottages in total, and I believe three of them were about four hundred years or more old at that time, ours being one of them, and one of the smallest. There were three rooms in total in our rented cottage, two downstairs and one up.
The ceiling height was only about six feet or so, and I can well remember  my Father banging his head on more than one occasion on the wooden beam that ran through the downstairs living room,
And he was only 5' 7" tall.
I think some years earlier the cottage that we lived in had been reduced in width to allow a hallway to be built in the already larger premises next door. This would then allow this corner house to have three doors. 
It already had a door onto Manor Lane and one onto St Ann's Road and  the new rear door, I assume, was to allow easy access to the new, then modern, outside toilets that were some way over to the far-side of the communal backyard.
I will always remember those dingy toilets with the proverbial nail in the wall. 
I am only assuming the hallway and the toilets were built at the same time.

The cottages' roofs were covered with slates, which were laid on top of the original thatched roof. I know this because the roof caught fire twice when we lived there, and I remember that on one of these occasions, a fireman shouting that it was the thatch that was on fire. It was caused by sparks coming through one of the chimney walls.
The walls of the three oldest cottages which ran along the Manor Lane boundary were made from wattle-and-daub.

The two cottages that were built on the boundary of St., Ann’s Rd., were later additions, after part of the original building must have been demolished.
I believe this image is of the front of the Cotton Houses, from the Manor Lane side. I am very grateful to Betty Williams of the Middlewich Heritage Society for finding this image in the Society's archives, where it was listed as 'unknown, but thought to be somewhere on St Ann's Road'.
When I first saw the above black and white image, I thought that it was of Derbyshire's (market gardeners) cottage which is still just across from the Manor Lane/St. Ann’s Road junction, but if it is a true image the garden would have been too large to have been Derbyshire’s, which is on the road side.

This image would also have had to have been prior to their conversion into six cottages, due to the lack of the extra chimneys on the right-hand side and the missing slate roof that was laid on top of the thatch.

The cottage that we lived in would have been the second door from the left. Everything looks right about it. It was one of the smallest of all the cottages and, as I mentioned before, the ceiling height was only about six feet or so.
That's why the door looks small compared to the newer cottage on the left-hand side of it, which I think had an eight foot ceiling, judging by the windows. The walls were flush with one and other, and not set back as it appears in the image. 

There was also a massive fireplace in our living room and a large chimney breast in the one and only bedroom.
It was definitely out of proportion to the size of the rooms. 
The fire place would have been in proportion, if it had once been one or two larger rooms either side of the chimney breast. I do remember that the bedroom window at the end of my parents bed being in the same place as shown in the image, the one below the chimney.
The bed was above the door and the downstairs window.
This image looks perfectly in proportion to how I remembered it in the late 1950’s.
I do not recall the bricks in the gable-end though.
I think it was painted white and there was a door in it, as shown in the image.
I can remember our next door neighbour Mr Hall, who was a joiner, making a new door for it. I can only imagine that the chimney was in the middle of the original building, so it would have had to have been longer on the left hand side. 
This probably would have been the original footprint of the Cotton’s work and poorhouse.
Allan Earl’s research also shows it was still a work and poorhouse in 1740. 
There may have been an extension built onto the right-hand end as well, as it seems to me to be one dwelling too short to have been six cottages.
When we lived there the end cottage that was on right-hand side also had an unattached brick wash-house with a big copper open topped coal fired boiler in it.
Can anyone else add anything to the above information?

UPDATE (10th October 2017):

Peter Atkin writes:

The old house in the story is actually the original Pear Tree Cottage in St Ann's Road, which belonged to my great grandfather Tom Turney. Here is a better copy from my family archive.

Pear Tree Cottage

Peter has been attempting to find out just where Pear Tree Cottage was in St Ann's Road. The name suggests that there might have been some connection with the extensive orchards which once occupied the area where the school grounds and  playing fields and the children's playground are now. Can anyone help? -Ed

©Malcolm Hough 2013

First published in the Middlewich Heritage Society Newsletter

UPDATE (2nd October 2017)

Illustration: Ann Birtwisle-Brown

When this diary entry was re-published at the end of September 2017, Ann Birtwisle-Brown got in touch to tell us that her great great grandparents, Isaac and Martha Sant had lived in  the Cotton Houses at the time of the 1871 census. Their daughter Mary Ann, then aged 12 was Ann's great grandmother (ATKIN(S)).

For clarity, here's a transcript of the census information, also provided by Ann:

Name: Isaac Sant
Age: 39
Estimated birth year: Abt 1832
Relation: Head
Spouse's Name: Martha Sant

Gender: Male
Where born: Middlewich, Cheshire, England
Civil Parish: Newton
Ecclesiastical Parish: Middlewich
Town: Middlewich
County/Island: Cheshire
Country: England
Registration District: Northwich
Sub-registration District: Middlewich
ED, institution, or vessel: 4
Household schedule number: 110
Piece: 3700
Folio: 65
Page Number: 18

Household Members:

Isaac Sant  39
Martha Sant  48
Mary A Sant  12
George Sant  8

We're grateful to Ann for supplying this information and for permission to use it. As she herself says it gives us an opportunity to learn something of one of the families living in the Cotton Houses all those years ago. -Ed.

First published in The Middlewich Diary 5th October 2013
   Re-published 30th September 2017
   Revised and re-published 2nd October 2017
   Updated 10th October 2017


by Dave Roberts
Cheshire East's new magazine for residents

We feel that it's only right that this review of Cheshire East's new initiative - The Voice - should come under the heading of an 'Editorial'.

It's something we very seldom do. In fact there has only ever been one Diary Editorial before this, and that was on the vexed question of the bypass. It was deleted soon after publication and now exists only as a file, somewhere in our archives.

But please bear in mind that the views expressed in this Diary entry are solely those of the editor.

Cheshire East Council
First of all, it has to be said that there's a lot that's worthwhile in The Voice (issue number one, Autumn 2017, out now).

Those of us who are beyond the first flush of youth will be interested in the article about the council's 'care and repair' service (page 8) which can take a lot of the hassle out of arranging household modifications such as new central heating systems, new bathrooms and kitchens and all the other things we all need to keep us safe and independent as we grow older.

There are articles about Fostering (page 12) and Adoption (page 13), getting a flu jab (page 18) and 'News Bulletin' (page 4) has a round-up of good news stories about the Borough.

'Families Matter' (page 10) brings us up to date on the services provided by the Council's children's and family centres which provide support to families throughout Cheshire East.

And there's an interesting piece about the dramatic re-construction of the trial of Alan Turing at the Courthouse Hotel in Knutsford - the very place where the original trial took place 65 years earlier when the hotel was Knutsford's courthouse (page 11).

So far so good. 

I'm sure that those of us here in Middlewich are happy to know about all these things and these pages are, perhaps, something of an antidote to the relentless negative publicity which Cheshire East, some might say with good reason, receives.

It is, unfortunately, when we start to peruse the other pages - the pages where our Borough Council attempts to 'blow its own trumpet' and tell us of achievements in various part of Cheshire East, that the wheels fall off.

I draw your attention to page 6 of The Voice and two-page spread simply entitled 'Regeneration Plans'. Here we learn that 'There's no place like Macclesfield'. They're right, of course. Macclesfield is lovely, and often under- appreciated. And - good news folks! - it's going to get even lovelier with £30m of commercial investment going into the town, along with £1.4m of 'public realm' investment by Cheshire East. What it's all about, the magazine explains, in as horrible a piece of council-speak as you'll find anywhere, is to 'boost the existing town centre offer'. Hurrah!

Down the road apiece, in sunny Crewe, we can look forward to 'a town centre to be proud of'.  Just £48.3m to you, guvnor! Well worth it, of course, and looking to the future, when Crewe becomes part of the HS2 network, worth every penny. And it's all on top of the £25m already 'invested'. It naturally follows, at least CE thinks it does, that where the council sprinkles its 'seed money', private investors eagerly follow! Hurrah again!

In Congleton things are slightly more low-key, with only £1m of public realm investment aimed at...well, just making the town look nicer, really. We all want our town to look nicer, don't we? Isn't it great that we have a Borough Council that also wants to make our towns look nicer? Good old Congleton! Hurrah!

In Middlewich....sorry. Nothing found. I'll get back to you....

You needn't think, though, that the Ancient Royal Borough of Middlewich isn't mentioned at all in this new magazine.

We're right there on page 15 as part of an article called 'Crafting A Cleaner Borough', which is mostly about people picking up litter in Crewe (the Crewe 'Clean Team', you might say).

What used to be called 'Middlewich tip' is just one of an exciting list of 'Household Waste Recycling Centres' across Cheshire East:

Middlewich: Croxton Lane, Middlewich, CW10 9EZ. Tel: 01606 837128.

So Cheshire East does think about us! Think rubbish - think Middlewich! That's the Cheshire East way!

And that's not all! We're mentioned not once, but twice in The Voice. More on that later...

Next, if you have your own copy of The Voice to hand, you might like to turn to page 16 where we find an article called, 'Flying The Green Flag'.

'Cheshire East Council's parks are some of the very best in the UK - and that's official'

We know, we know! Although this article is really about the splendours of Tatton Park and the now refurbished Victorian Queen's Park in Crewe, we can't help feeling they've missed a trick by not including the magnificent Fountain Fields in Middlewich.

Our Middlewich Diary photographer was there only yesterday to capture the beauties of Autumn at Fountain Field...

STP (MD) 91017
The glory of Fountain Fields in Autumn. This magnificent floral display at Fountain Fields is just one of the ways in which Cheshire East Council enhances our lives.

...and so on to the 'What's On' section of The Voice

Since the Middlewich Diary started in 2011, we've become  used to the idea that there are so many events happening in the town that it's difficult to keep up with them and almost impossible to list them all.

The What's On section of The Voice redresses the balance somewhat by listing just one Middlewich event between now and Christmas.

There's a list of what they call 'Tree of Lights' (which should, probably, more correctly be called 'Trees of Lights', but no matter) and it's here that we find Middlewich's second mention:

Middlewich Tuesday 5th December.

Make a note!

Are we being unfair? Of course we are!

This is, after all, the first edition of The Voice and we can hardly expect everyone to get a look in.

You'll have noticed that Middlewich is not the only town to receive what looks like short shrift from the editorial team.

Sandbach, for example, doesn't seem to get much of a look in (though their Christmas Market is featured in 'What's On').

Nor, strangely, does Nantwich (except, again, in the What's On' section).

No doubt whatever the equivalents may be of the Middlewich Diary in those towns will also be sitting up and taking notice.

As our name implies, we can only speak for this town.

And these are early days.

We look forward to future editions of The Voice in which Cheshire East tells us how many millions they intend to spend to make our town look lovelier and boost our 'town centre offer'.

They might even spend a bit of money to make Fountain Fields even more gorgeous than it is now!

One last point. The way the blue C and the green E merge together in the magazine's logo somehow looks horribly familiar...

Could it be....?

Nah! Surely not...


There was much comment on social media about the first edition of The Voice, much of it centred on the perceived cost of producing the Newsletter four times a year. In response Cheshire East issued this statement:


Review © Salt Town Productions 2017