Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Thursday, 26 January 2017

MIDDLEWICH SHOW 1937


by Dave Roberts

Middlewich Show 1937 is just one of a small collection of films made in the 1930s by the Mid-Cheshire Amateur Cinematography Society, with members based mainly in Middlewich and Northwich. Prominent members were my Dad, Arthur Roberts, and my Uncles Bill Oakes and Clifford Ridgway.
Also involved were the Eachus Brothers, who ran a photographic shop in Northwich.
Up until the early 1980s the 16mm films were in the possession of Uncle Bill who then lived at 'Three Willows' in Mill Lane off Nantwich Road (a beautiful house with a terraced garden sweeping down to the River Wheelock, just downstream from the weir we were looking at in this diary entry)
Occasionally, on high days and holidays during my childhood, someone would get hold of a 16mm projector and we'd all be able to see something of our local area as it was in the 1930s, and what our relations and their friends looked like in their younger days.
When Uncle Bill's wife, Winnie, died he decided to move to Knutsford and, while clearing his house, asked if there was anything I'd particularly like from the large pile of 'junk' destined for Middlewich tip.
Believe it or not, among the 'junk' was the collection of 16mm films we'd enjoyed occasionally for many years.
Thus I was able to save them for posterity.
The films then entered a 'second life' as a Middlewich attraction. I used to borrow a 16mm projector from the High School and show them at various venues around the town in aid of charity.
This, of course, was long before the days of DVDs. Even video was only then coming into fashion and there was no practical way these films could be shown in public other than in the traditional way, 'live' with a projector.
A very nerve-wracking enterprise, I can tell you.
Even in those days the films were getting on for fifty years old and becoming increasingly frail with each passing year. 
Any old-fashioned film projectionist will tell you that a film can only be shown so many times before you start to have problems, with broken splices, torn perforations, scratches and burned-out frames (where the film has stuck in the 'gate' and been melted by the heat of the lamp).
So, eventually they had to 'retire' before they fell to pieces altogether.
Local historian Allan Earl, who knew all about the films, approached me and asked if I would be prepared to donate them  to the North-West Film Archive at Manchester University where they could be conserved and looked after properly.
A name had to be found for the collection, and we dubbed it The Roberts Collection, that being as good a name as any, and Allan took them to Manchester so they could live out their well-earned retirement among the rest of the North West's filmed heritage.
Part of the deal was that two VHS video copies of the films should be made; one for our family, and one for the Middlewich Heritage Society.
Those low-quality videos are the source of the films from the Roberts Collection you see on Youtube today. One day we hope to be able to show them to you in better quality in the form of DVD files.
Incidentally, in the days when ITV, in the form of Granada Television, used to produce regional programmes for the North-West, theywould phone occasionally to ask for copyright clearance for sequences from these films for use in  a programme called The Way We Were, narrated by Stuart Hall.

You've been very patient, so now here is our main feature:



MIDDLEWICH SHOW 1937

(YOUTUBE VERSION)


A couple of years ago I was approached by the British Film Institute asking for permission to include Middlewich Show 1937 in their online Britain On Film series which features films from all over the country depicting daily life in Britain through the years. The institute also refers to this series as 'the National Archive'
And that is how our town came to be included in this fascinating online archive and how you can enjoy this particular film, at least, in something like its original quality.

MIDDLEWICH SHOW 1937

(BFI 'BRITAIN ON FILM' VERSION)
(Higher quality)


(Note: The strange, oriental looking illustrations at the very start of this version of the film were bits of old scrap 16mm film fished out of a bin at Granada TV in the 1970s)

First published 16th July 2011
Revised, expanded and re-published 26th January 2011

Thursday, 19 January 2017

EXCLUSIVE: GLIMPSES OF MIDDLEWICH AND WINSFORD IN THE 1960s

'....each a glimpse, and gone forever...'
                                         -Robert Louis Stevenson

by Dave Roberts

Courtesy of Bill Armsden and John Bailey here's a rare chance to see a few fleeting glimpses of Middlewich and Winsford as they were towards the end of the 1960s, captured on 8mm cine film and restored and digitised so that we can enjoy them today. The scenes we see here are just part of a longer film chronicling a family day out at Chester Zoo, circa 1968, and offer us the chance to see our town at the very end of what we like to call its 'salt town days' (the open pan works all having closed in 1966/7) and before major housing development and 'gentrification' started in earnest.

Watch it on VIMEO:


Or Watch it right here...




Middlewich & Winsford circa 1968 from Dave Roberts on Vimeo.


Here's what you'll see:

We start in Booth Lane, and ahead of us is the bridge over the canal junction. To the right is that long-gone building which once stood at the junction of Booth Lane and Brooks Lane (currently causing much controversy as drivers choose to ignore the 'one way' restrictions on the bridge). For many years the building housed a bakery, but the Lyons Maid ice cream sign shows us that this film was made in the period when the shop was operated by Clarence Costello and his wife Mary. Costello's had shops in various parts of the town, including Kinderton Street and Wheelock Street, at various periods in the town's history.
If you inspect the Booth Lane side of the bridge today, you'll see that the wall once curved round to join the canal-side wall of the shop.
Next we leap ahead to Lewin Street, and get a glimpse of the CofE Infant School on the right. 
And this is where we know we really are in the past because, instead of bearing right to go down into Leadsmithy Street and the Junction with St Michael's Way, we go to the left to pass over Hightown and thus into the town centre.
Dead ahead is the old Town Hall and a row of shops where the amphitheatre is today.
In the town centre we see Dewhurst's butchers shop and, to its left and set back from the road, the Vaults, the sign for which can be seen on the end wall of the shop next door. Those two shops are still there,and are now both hairdressers. The one on the left we made famous a few years ago as 'Sharon's Cafe'.
We turn into Wheelock Street and again we know instantly that we're looking at a scene from many years ago, as the traffic is travelling both ways.
Notice, on the right, the Davies School of Motoring in just one of the row of shops which are now given over completely to the justly famous Temptations business.
Ahead of us to the right we can see a building which spent many years as Brooks & Bostock, after its move from just across the road. On its end wall can be seen another long-vanished Middlewich sight, the billboard advertising the many delights of Belle Vue.
Now to Chester Road, and, on the left, where now we find Morrisons, is Middlewich Motors with its Mobil Garage. Beneath the Mobil sign you might be able to catch a glimpse of another sign saying Boosey's Nurseries.
Next we're on Spital Hill, climbing towards Winsford. Of all the locations in this short film, this is the one which has changed the least.
Next we're approaching the bridge just before Winsford Station (or, as older people will know it, Gravel).
Here we turn right for a pit stop at the Railway Hotel, which once sported a sign depicting a slightly wonky looking Stephenson's Rocket, and is now known as the Brighton Belle.
And next we're in Winsford High Street, before the dual carriageway was driven straight through the heart of the town. Unfortunately for us, the camera concentrates on the right hand side of the road, showing us the Brunner Guildhall and other buildings which are still very much with us. There are, though, tantalising glimpses of the now-vanished left hand side of the High Street.
And so this all too brief glimpse into the past comes to an end as we take the old road out of Winsford and head for Chester and the delights of its famous zoo.
You'll notice the road signs, which give us a clue as to the age of this film. This type of sign, so familiar to us now, was only introduced in the early to mid-sixties.
Of course we have to remember that the scenes of Middlewich and Winsford seen here - all of them just a few seconds long - were just 'setting the scene'. They were included in the finished film (which was, don't forget, a record of a Middlewich family's trip to the zoo) to show where that family travelled from on their day out. There was no thought of capturing Middlewich and Winsford 'for posterity'. At least we don't think there was.
Apart from anything else 8mm cine film was very expensive and the majority of it would have been saved for filming the animals at the zoo.
But aren't we glad the cameraman/woman decided to expend just a little of that precious film on the journey?

Here's the film again, in slow motion

Watch it on VIMEO:


Or Watch it right here:


Middlewich & Winsford circa 1968 (Slow motion version) from Dave Roberts on Vimeo.


Our thanks to Bill and John for going to the trouble (and not inconsiderable expense)
of rescuing this rare film for posterity and also granting the Middlewich Diary the privilege of bringing it to you.

VIDEOS © Bill Armsden/John Bailey 2017












Monday, 16 January 2017

MUSIC IN MIDDLEWICH: MOM NIGHT RE-UNION AT THE BOAR'S HEAD - 18th JANUARY 2017

The Way We Were: A MOM Night poster from the early 2000s

Dave Roberts writes...


These days you can't take a few steps in any town in the kingdom without stumbling across a pub featuring an 'Open Mike' night. Most pubs try the idea out at least once, with varying degrees of success. Middlewich, of course, is not immune to the Open Mike Night phenomenon ('Mike', by the way, is the correct form, rather than 'mic.' Mike is the accepted abbreviation for microphone in the music industry, whereas 'mic' is a technical abbreviation used by engineers), with practically every local hostelry having a go at one time or another.
Well, we were the first, in Middlewich at least, back in the early years of this century.
Middlewich Open Mike had its origins in the Salt Town Poets' 'Poetry & Pints' nights at the Kings Arms, the Newton Brewery, and - most enduringly - the Boar's Head.
We noticed that there was in increasing amount of musicians coming along to our P&P Nights and decided to formalise the situation and call the evening 'Middlewich Open Mike Night' or 'MOM Night' for short
Our MOM Nights were a great success over the years, running regularly on the third Wednesday of every month, with regular 'specials' for the Folk & Boat Festival and the FAB Festival.

And now here's news of a revival, for one night only, of those halcyon days, with the MOM Night Reunion!

Here's a word from none other than Professor Parsons....

Mike Parsons writes...

Dear all,

Having spoken with one or two who can remember the original 'Middlewich Open Mike (MOM)' Nights, we thought it would be nice to have a 'Celebratory Reunion' for old times' sake, in which we could get together as old friends and once again enjoy

sharing each other's company and music.

As a result of this idea, I am happy to inform you that on the evening of Wed. 18th. January the back room of the Boar's Head has been reserved for just such an occasion and you are all cordially invited to come along and help make it a really fun evening. If you could also please help to spread the word (as there are those for whom I do not have contact details), that would be great.

So, please do not be shy or slow to shake off those Winter blues; do not let modesty (or anything else for that
matter!) forbid. 

What else could rival the X Factor tour other than the combined billing of the likes of Andy (the Voice) Roscoe; Wolfy; John (Biker JC) Capper; The Legendary Dave Roberts; Davian Reel; Lake, etc. and our other renowned comrades who (with your help) we still need to trace and bring along on the night.

Old friends; new contemporaries, all welcome!

The evening will be hosted by Chris & The MGs.

See you on the 18th; hope you can make it!

Mike 




Tuesday, 10 January 2017

HOOLIGANISM AT MIDDLEWICH STATION 1889!

100 years on - The remains of Middlewich Station in 1989, a century after football supporters caused mayhem on its platforms.

by Dave Roberts

Many years ago someone told me that he had read somewhere that Middlewich railway station was once 'the scene of one of the first reported football riots in history' and the information has lodged somewhere in my mind all this time.
So I thought it was time we got to the bottom of the story and recorded it for posterity in the Middlewich Diary. After all, Middlewich, and Middlewich station in particular, don't have so many claims to fame that we can afford to ignore one of them.
The information about the 'riot' originates in a book called The Roots of Football Hooliganism written by Eric Dunning, Patrick J Murphy and John Williams and published by Routledge in 1988, a time when such unsportsmanlike behaviour was a growing problem in many parts of Britain.
The book attempts, as its title implies, to get to the root causes of football violence (and, I imagine, though I haven't read the book, suggest some remedies for it).
Although this incident has been touted as an early example of such behaviour, the authors are at pains to point out that it was by no means an unusual occurrence in those days,  and probably only made it into the press because a newspaper reporter 'happened to be there at the time'.

That reporter was from the Liverpool Echo, and this is what he had to say:


Liverpool Echo 1st April 1889/The Roots Of Football Hooliganism (Routledge 1988)

You'll have spotted the immediate puzzle, of course: what were groups of Nantwich and Crewe supporters doing at Middlewich, several miles away from either of those two towns? Was the match, perhaps, held in Middlewich because it was 'neutral territory'? Did Middlewich have football facilities in 1889 good enough to host even a minor clash between the two towns? They could, of course, have been on their way back from either Crewe or Nantwich, as both had good railway connections with Middlewich at the time. But the fact that they were on opposite platforms and waiting for trains rather than a train indicates that they were travelling in opposite directions. On the other hand, the report says that after  the skirmish 'the special' then came in, which implies that they  all intended to travel on the same train. Which will have made life interesting for the guard. But if they were all going on the same train, why were they on opposite platforms? So that they could better shout and jeer and threaten each other?
Whatever the truth of the matter, it's fascinating to hear that our own humble railway station was once the stamping ground of such ne'er-do-wells.



Sunday, 8 January 2017

MIDDLEWICH HELPERS


Our town's much admired community spirit really came to the fore in early January 2017, leading directly to the creation of the MIDDLEWICH HELPERS Facebook Group.

Laura Lucas writes:
It is agreed that Facebook has many down points, however tonight I have witnessed something great: A man posted a comment on the Middlewich Community site regarding a man who was homeless and is residing under the bridge.
The whole of the community has come together to provide him with essentials to get him through the cold nights before he is rehoused,hopefully on Monday. We spoke to him for a while and despite his current situation and health implications his spirit and fight is phenomenal! I truly believe that this will get him through this hardship!
Tonight has shown, not only that there are still people out there who are genuinely decent human beings,but also that there is always a reason to smile and appreciate what and who we have in our lives.No matter how big or how small this may be! 

7th January 2017

Find out more:

MIDDLEWICH HELPERS ON FACEBOOK


Friday, 6 January 2017

ROYAL BRITISH LEGION CLUB OPEN EVENING 24th JANUARY (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED


On Tuesday 24th January, from 7pm until 9pm, Middlewich's Royal British Legion Club in Lewin Street  will be opening its doors so that potential users of its comprehensive facilities can see what the club can offer.

Jackie Latham writes:

During this open evening we're taking the opportunity to showcase our venue, so why not come along and see just what we have here, particularly if you're looking for a venue for your big occasion?
We also welcome any local business which may want to get involved: for example, cake-makers, beauty experts, hairdressers, wedding party arrangers - anyone at all in and around Middlewich who has a service to offer. Please message me to book a free table.






Wednesday, 4 January 2017

MIDDLEWICH ROSE FETE 2017 - MAYPOLE TRYOUTS 11th FEBRUARY 2017



For 2017, the Middlewich Rose Fete has moved away from its links with the FAB Festival to become yet another separate  event for Middlewich - the Middlewich Rose Fete and Children's Festival! 

DIrect Facebook Page link:
www.middlewichrosefete.co.uk

The Festival itself takes place on
20th May 2017

Sunday, 1 January 2017

THE MIDDLEWICH CHARITY SHIELD - NEW YEAR'S DAY 2017 (ARCHIVED)


ARCHIVED




The Middlewich Charity Shield



Always the very first Middlewich Event of every year, the Annual Middlewich New Years Day Treasure Hunt is competed for every year by hung-over Middlewichians, and the prize, since 1992 at least,  has been  the much-coveted Middlewich Charity Shield.

Traditionally the team which wins the shield each year sets the questions for the following year but in 2017 things are a little different.

Melody Smith has volunteered - for one year only - to set the questions for the 2017 Treasure Hunt and would like to know a little more about the event, and in particular, its history.

The earliest date on the shield, which is  dedicated to the memory of Christina Wakefield, is 1992 when, as can be seen from the list of winners below, 'R&P Jackson' were the victors.

But did this epic New Year trawl around the town actually start before 1992? 

Both we at the Middlewich Diary and Melody Smith would love to hear more of the history of this cherished Middlewich Institution.

If you can help, please email us at:


or visit our new, dedicated, Facebook Group at

MIDDLEWICH CHARITY SHIELD FACEBOOK GROUP

(administered by MELODY SMITH)


The list of past winners makes interesting reading. 

The term 'usual suspects' springs to mind, with names like 'Poniznik + Bruce, 'S Bailey & T Hough' , 'Bic's Team', 'The Shaws', 'Stitched Up' and many others making up a virtual 'Who's Who' of the Great and Good in Middlewich.

If you were a member of one of these illustrious teams and have memories - happy or otherwise - of taking part in the Treasure Hunt, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


The chosen charities for 2017 are St Luke's Cheshire Hospice and St Michael & All Angels Church repair fund.


The Boar's Head Hotel in Kinderton Street - starting point for the Treasure Hunt every year


MIDDLEWICH CHARITY SHIELD WINNERS SINCE 1992

1992 R&P Jackson
1993 M&C Lowe, R&P Jackson
1994 Poniznik + Bruce
1995 Worthington family
1996 Wood 'n' Teas
1997 Worthington family
1998 S Bailey & T Hough
1999 Plonkers 2
2000 Year 2K
2001 Plonkers 2
2002 The Shaws
2003 Whott
2004 The Shaws
2005 The Young Ones
2006 Whott
2007 Hough & Bailey
2008 Middlewich Masons
2009 Stitched Up
2010 Otherwise Engaged
2011 Bics Team
2012 Dirty Monkeys
2013 Dave DE & Dozy Kids
2014 Chips
2015 DE & Dave
2016 (no name supplied)

Dave Roberts
Editor

UPDATE (31st December 2016):


Prize list for the hunt and raffle:

Boars Head- Meal for 4
Narrowboat Inn – Meal for 4
The White Bear Middlewich – Meal for 4
The Big Lock Pub Middlewich - £10 Voucher (also doing soup at the end of the hunt at 3.30pm)
Andy Boyle Photography – £30 family portrait voucher
Willow Bell – 4 beautiful mugs
Tims Gents Hairshop – hair cut by Jenny
Tracey's gel-ous nails and beauty – voucher
Razor Sharp – voucher for gent’s hair cut.
Charlotte Rose Florist - voucher
Cups and Cakes – Lunch voucher
Temptations – Jar of sweets
Morrisons, Middlewich – Delicious hamper with prosecco

HISTORY OF THE EVENT

by Melody Smith

The New Year's Day Treasure Hunt, with its prize, the Middlewich Charity Shield, was started in 1992 by Terry and Christina Wakefield, who used to run a disco and catering company  and were actively raising funds for local causes and charities in Middlewich.

Tragically, in 1993, a year which proved to be very difficult for Terry and his family, Christine had a fatal fall in her home.

As a mark of respect, and a reflection of her work in the community, Terry dedicated the recently established shield to Christina's memory.

He continued to run the treasure hunt until 1998 when he left Middlewich and moved to the Wirral to enjoy a new life with his current wife.

I recently spoke to terry by telephone, and he was very pleased to hear that the tradition has stayed strong in Middlewich and that the annual event has continued to be an institution within the community.

He still has links here and visits occasionally.

His daughter has requested that, when the shield is full and needs replacing, she would like to keep it.

UPDATE (1st January 2017:

Here are the results and scores for the 2017 contest:

Chubby's Christmas Chickens 43
Red devils 41
Bayar Lederhosen  40
Jones and Riddell  40
Whot 40
Bet you…. 39
Chips 38
Jacob's Barmy army 38
Rab C and pals 38
Regan's rangers 38
3D-UK (Dee and Dave) 37.5
Fab Sam 37
Northern Soul 37
Hotspurs 36
Humphries clan 36
Descendants 35.5
Scraffey's Gang 33
The Cobblers 32
Hardy 32
Rolley's ramblers 32
Christina's Crusaders 31
Rocking dollies on tour 29
Chopp's champions 27
Morgan 27
Bunged up but breathing 25
Knights of old 23
Redheads 22
Brendan and Jack 18
losers 18


First published 12th November 2016
Updated & re-published 30th November 2016, 5th December 2016
31st December 2016 and 1st  January 2017