Sunday, 18 June 2017

DAD AT WORK AT CEREBOS (LATE 40s/EARLY 50s)

This photo first appeared on Facebook, not as part of the regular 'Middlewich' series, but on Father's Day 2011 as a tribute to my Dad, Arthur Roberts, who was a foreman electrician at Cerebos Salt Ltd (later to become part of RHM Foods) from the late 30s until his retirement through ill health around 1969. Dad is pictured here in the generator room at Cerebos in (we think) the late 40s/early 50s. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the generator plant and its controls and, when he had to retire, was retained as a consultant and driven up to the works at weekends by Percy Wrench in the works van to check that everything was OK. The Cerebos generating plant was very efficient for its day, as the steam used to run the generators was not released into the atmosphere but recycled to provide heating and hot water for the whole factory, as well as for a very unusual salt pan which can best be described as a giant 'electric kettle'. The steam heated a giant element in the pan which, unlike the coal fired pans at Seddons and Murgatroyds, could be kept going for days and weeks on end, making it far more productive than most salt pans.  A lot of the power produced, went to run the vacuum salt plant, fore-runner of the one now in use at British Salt which produces the greater part  of the country's salt requirements.
Salt plants and electrical generators are, of course, run with the help of computers these days, but in Dad's day, all the knowledge was, literally, in his head. He taught himself electrical engineering in his spare time by correspondence course.



see also QUEEN MUM

First published July 11th 2011
Republished June 15th (Fathers Day) 2014
Republished June 19th (Fathers Day) 2016
Republished June 18th (Fathers Day) 2017

Saturday, 17 June 2017

PADDIES, BOATS, SALT AND BISTO!

Tools used in the production of open pan and cut-lump salt
This photograph from the 2011 FAB Festival illustrates another important aspect of our town's most hectic and exhilarating weekend.
From its earliest beginnings in 1990 the festival was seen not only as an important musical event and celebration of Middlewich's canal heritage but also as an opportunity to showcase the town's long and hitherto rather neglected history as one of the famous 'Cheshire Wiches'.
There can't be many British schoolchildren who weren't taught about Nantwich, Middlewich and Northwich and their tradition of salt-making stretching back to a time even before the Roman invasion, so that almost everyone would have heard of our town, even if many of them probably couldn't have told you exactly where it was.
Every year now, thanks to the sterling efforts of  Middlewich Town Council's Heritage Officer, Kerry Fletcher, and the work put in by many volunteers, including members of the Middlewich Heritage Society, the history of Middlewich is displayed and interpreted for the benefit of both townspeople and visitors.

Modern day Bisto Kids pose in front of the mural rescued from RHM Foods when the factory closed in 2009. See this diary entry.


Festival visitors on the Narrowboat Sweden, formerly one of the fleet of boats used by Henry Seddon & Sons to bring in coal and export salt from their Wych House Lane and Pepper Street works along the Trent & Mersey Canal (the Wych House Lane works was situated  to the right of the boat on what is now known as the 'Salinae Field'. Part of the field can be seen above the boat's engine compartment.).
Sadly, since this photograph was taken, Sweden has been repainted in a livery representing a different period of her long life.

With the Town Bridge in the right background, Cliff's photo shows the scene at Town Wharf a few years ago (one of the wharf buildings is on the extreme left). The wharf and the immediately adjacent Salinae Field are really the point where the 'Folk & Boat' parts of the festival come together; concerts are staged on boats moored by the wharf and stalls and exhibition stands help tell the Middlewich story to Folkies and Boaties alike.
When the 'Gateway To Middlewich' scheme comes to fruition  this part of town will have become even more attractive and welcoming, not only at festival time but also throughout the rest of the year.
(Editor's note: We're still waiting! That line was from the original 2013 edition of this diary entry and in 2015 little has changed as far  as the wharf is concerned.)


...and just in case anyone might have forgotten how it all started back in 1990 here are the legendary MIDDLEWICH PADDIES who have appeared at all 25 Festivals through the years.
On the left is Graham Sivills, centre is Richard Devaney, the man who thought up the idea in the first place, and on the right, Dave Thompson, formerly Folk & Boat Festival Artistic Director and now running the FAB Festival on behalf of the Town Council as Events Manager.

Diary entry originally published 12th June 2013 under the title
FAB FESTIVAL 2013: PADDIES, BOATS, SALT AND BISTO...



Many thanks to CLIFF ASTLES for permission to use these photographs.

First published 12th June 2013
Re-published 7th June 2014
10th June 2015
17th June 2017


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

MIDDLEWICH FROM THE SKY

This all too short video appeared recently on the Middlewich Community Group on Facebook. It shows some stunning shots of the Parish Church, the Trent & Mersey Canal and the British Salt Works in Booth Lane.
Familiar elements which make Middlewich the town it is today, but shown from a new angle thanks to new 'drone' technology.
We're hoping that a longer version will be forthcoming soon.

Many thanks to HENRY COLE for permission to use his work.

You can view the video here.

MIDDLEWICH FROM THE SKY

(Middlewich Community Group Link)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

MIDDLEWICH MAKERS MARKET 2017 (ARCHIVED)







THE FINAL
MAKERS MARKET:


SATURDAY 27th MAY 
10am - 3pm

It's farewell to the Makers market
after five years in Middlewich.

The Makers Market writes...


This Saturday 27th of May we have the final Middlewich Makers Market showcasing a fabulous selection of food, drink, art, design and street food. We are delighted to be joined by the Annual Middlewich Town Crier competition, from 11am, where Town Criers from across the country will battle it out to be crowned champ. There will also be a junior championship in the afternoon, so get your vocal cords ready kids.
Join us this Saturday for a lovely day in Middlewich. Here is our talented stall holder lineup-
Angel and The Bee
Hey Presto
Truly A Sweets
Flank & Hock
Ghin Kow
V & S Home Decor
Marts craft beer
L G Art
Bagzii
Shams Asian Foods
Petes Wood
Indigo Upholstery
Cupcake
Middlewich Butcher
Bebi G's Bakery
Bridge Park Candle Co
Cheshire cheesecakes
Alessioserra
Greek Kitchen
Flying Teaspoons
Just Waffle
Born on the Waves
Paws and Hounds
Elle Bee Creations
Cheshire pie
Israeli Food
Pudding and Pie
Coffee Food and Wine
Cheshire Cheese Company
Pop corn
Cheshire Roasts
Middlewich Makers Market, 10-3pm, Wheelock Street, CW10 9AB

Middlewich FAB Festival writes...
Heading down to the The Makers Market this Saturday? Keep an eye out forHero RenewablesFacebook Live Giveaway of 2 VIP Tickets to this year’s FAB Festival! All you have to do is find the secret location, pull the #FABFEST pose and you’ll be off to see the Ian Broudie and the Lightning Seeds and more amazing live music. #BETHERE#BEFAB


_______________________________________

Aiden J Devaney, award-winning butcher of Wheelock Street, has supported the Makers Market, and the Artisan Market before it, ever since the beginning.
Photo: MIDDLEWICH GUARDIAN




Willow Bell writes...
It's a beautiful day for Middlewich Makers Market today 🌞😎
As well as our beautiful hand decaled Staffordshire Fine Bone China, we're stocked up on The Thomas-Coles Room Defusers and Shower Steamers also Naked Candle Co Candles and Room Defusers.
We are your Artisan Shop on the High Street

We're also outside again 🤗

Pop down and say hello 👋
We have fabulous gifts 🎁
Come and have a look 👀

The final market coincides with this great  Middlewich event...


Middlewich Town Council
Courtesy of DEVLIN HOBSON, Middlewich Town Crier






Published 8th January
28th January
25th February
25th March
29th April
and 27th May 2017


Editor's Note:
Although the Makers Market of 27th May was the last, all is not lost. The principle of closing Wheelock Street to traffic once a month has become well established over the years, and it is easy to envisage that some kind of monthly market will be able to continue here, either as part of another market 'chain' or as an independent local market, possibly run 'in house' by the Town Council, giving that body much more scope and control over the number and type of traders at each market. Whatever happens, we wish Middlewich's monthly market the very best for the future. DGR

GHOSTS OF MIDDLEWICH STATION


I take my place on the cold platform
'Tis nothing new, it's quite the norm.
Facing South, I watch and wait;
Should've been here by half past eight.

I stand and wait to see my boy.
When he arrives I'll jump for joy.
They let him out at dawn today
For misdemeanours he did pay.

The stationmaster locks his door,
This starry night he'll work no more.
Bids me goodnight, it's oh so late,
Says, 'when you go, please close the gate'.

'I will, kind sir, see you tomorrow',
He looks at me with such deep sorrow,
For he'll be back same time next night.
A slow train stops. No one alights.

A fast train roars through without a hitch.
For trains stop no more at Middlewich.
The station-master, he's mine host
But, alas, like me, also a ghost...

© Trevor Burton


Lewis Battersby, Middlewich Stationmaster 1920
Photo: David Broughton
This atmospheric poem was written by author Trevor Burton, who lives in Manchester and is better known for his detective fiction.

 Here's a link to his blog, containing  further links to his novels, which are available through Amazon.

Trevor Burton, Author

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

MIDDLEWICH TOWN CRIER COMPETITION 2017

Middlewich Town Council
...and who better to tell us all about it than our own distinguished Middlewich Town Crier, Devlin Hobson?



IN CONJUNCTION WITH

Last one this Saturday!

ITINERARY



Tuesday, 16 May 2017

KINDERTON STREET ROAD SIGN 1973


by Dave Roberts

It's 1973 and we're in Kinderton Street just to look at this road sign, a relic of motoring days gone by. There is no mention of the M6, although Junction 18 had opened a decade earlier in 1963. There were plenty of other signs to direct people to the motorway and this relic of times past was left in situ until the buildings were demolished after which it was, presumably, scrapped. The white, slightly askew, sign further up the road is a local sign directing people to Holmes Chapel. Most of this row of buildings was ready for demolition at this point, but Costello's, the shop nearest to the camera sporting the Lyon's Maid Ice Cream sign, lingered on until the bitter end. Here are a couple of other shots taken at around the same time, showing just what a deplorable state the shop had been allowed to get into.



See MARY COSTELLO IN KINDERTON STREET 1973

A tale of Charlie Crabbe

Talking of the M6, there's a story told of Charlie Crabbe, former landlord of the White Bear.
One day, some time in the late 1960s, the pop singer Tom Jones happened to come into town with his entourage, en route to a gig (this was in the days before Middlewich became the Entertainment Capital of the North-West).
Everyone was stunned to see this sixties icon in their local pub, except Charlie who wouldn't have known him from Adam.
Tom grinned at him and gave him that, 'yes, it's me! Aren't you lucky to have me here?' look which famous people always use.
Charlie gave him a blank look.
Tom walked over to the juke-box and selected It's Not Unusual.
Charlie looked at him again with the light of dawning recognition in his eyes.
'Blimey!' he said, 'I didn't recognise you at first!'
Tom gave him the standard, self-deprecating pop star smile.
'It's a while since I saw you,' went on Charlie, 'you were in that gang that worked on the M6 and you used to come in here every day for your dinner!
'How are the rest of the lads?'
I don't know if it's a true story. I hope so.


Originally published on Facebook 13th May 2011
First published on the Middlewich Diary 21st July 2011
Expanded and re-published 16th May 2017







Monday, 8 May 2017

THE DODGER AT CREWE 1955

by Dave Roberts

From the old MRLC archive comes this friendly face from the past. No 41229 pulled (and pushed) the 'Dodger' between Crewe and Northwich, via Middlewich, for almost ten years until the service was withdrawn on the last day of 1959. She was the most usual motive power for this service, although several of her sisters occasionally stood in for her.
The train is pictured, in this famous Brian Morrison photo, at Crewe Station in 1955. The loco is standing under the celebrated 'Spotters' Bridge' and said spotters are out in full force. 1955 is a little too early, even for me, as I would only have been three years old at the time.
So I know I'm not among those present.
Those spotters would have thought 'The  Dodger' very small beer in those days, being far more interested in the big main line express engines in other parts of the railway Mecca of Crewe. What would they give to see her now?
The strange apparatus you can see on either side of the engine's boiler is part of the push-pull mechanism which allowed the train to operate in either direction: No 41229 pulled the train to Northwich, then pushed it back to Crewe, with the driver in a special compartment at the front of the leading coach. This can be seen in this equally famous photo, taken at Middlewich Station.



Click here for a full description and to find out more about The Dodger.

Certain trains would reverse at Northwich and travel, via a link onto the West Coast Main Line at Hartford, up to Acton Bridge Station.


In 1959 you could get from Crewe to Northwich (and return) for 1s 2d (around 6p)

Saturday, 6 May 2017

SEABANK - EARLY/MID 1970s


Mike Jennings recently sent us this photograph of Seabank in the 1970s. It's one that we can't recall having seen before, and Mike says he has little or no information on it, or where it came from.
We think, however, that we can date it to around 1975, by reference to the colour slide below, taken by Jack Stanier in 1975 and often referred to here on the Middlewich Diary. In the background, beyond the River Croco and the Trent & Mersey Canal can be seen those large  buildings in Lewin Street  which we have seen so often in our Middlewich Diary travels - on the extreme left the Wesleyan Methodist Church and, centre left, the C of E Infants School. The buildings to the right around the town wharf still exist, waiting, like so much of our town, for better days, and beyond them can be seen the buildings on Hightown adjacent to the churchyard, including the white-painted Kings Arms Hotel at the bottom of Queen Street (not to be confused with the Wharf cottage, also white-washed, next to the Town Bridge).



And when we  compare Mike's photo with this old Middlewich Diary favourite, we can get a few clues as to the date of the Seabank photo. Look, in particular, at the shrubbery next to the old red GPO phonebox. Doesn't that look like the shrubbery to the right of Mike's photo? The Seabank car park at that time was being used  as a base for Ashley's contractors, who were re-shaping Kinderton Street to provide better facilities for traffic to and from the M6 (and, eventually, via the Town bridge, to St Michael's Way). The long-demolished cottages on the right hand side of Seabank, seen in Mike's photo, can also be seen on the extreme right of Jack's photo.

Friday, 7 April 2017

NOW OPEN IN WHEELOCK STREET - MAGGIE FINN'S!

TEA-ROOM AND CATERER

FRESHLY PREPARED HOT AND COLD FOOD.
TEAS,  COFFEES AND COLD DRINKS.

EAT IN OR TAKE OUT.

OPEN MONDAY TO SATURDAY
from 8am until 4pm.

Maggie Finns Website

Facebook Page


'Here at Maggie Finns we pride ourselves on our quality and service...

We always use only the best ingredients, sourced locally whereever possible, prepared with care and reasonably priced.

We can accommodate most dietary requirements and intolerances...please ask.

Business meetings, parties etc.. any special occasion - ask about our party food and catering services.'

Contact number for catering: 01606 869062



Find out more from our friends at the

BACK TO QUEEN STREET!

Sunday, 2 April 2017

FREE PUBLICITY!

Our 'NOTICE BOARD items are now featured on a dedicated Facebook group, which can be accessed by clicking HERE. Please feel free to post your items there and we'll share them throughout our network of MD Groups and groups associated with us. Selected items will also appear in the right hand column of the Diary itself. Alternatively, you can still email us at middlewichdiary@aol.com and we'll do it for you!