Tuesday, 22 August 2017

THE RED LION 1969

First published on Facebook 29th April 2011



by Dave Roberts

Here's one for owners of the  new apartments at the top of Wheelock Street to hang on their walls. 

It shows the old Red Lion on the corner of Wheelock Street and Nantwich Road as it was in 1969.
Note the CHESTERS neon sign and the off-licence, or 'OFF SALES', department.

Many pubs had these before the advent of...er...off-licences. 
There was, for example, one at The Vaults (or Brown's Vaults) at around the same time as this photo was taken.

Note also, to the right, the long-gone Yeowart's grocery shop on the corner of Nantwich Road and Chester Road and the total absence of gardens and dangerous road junctions in front of the pub.

Here's the other side of the shop, seen from Nantwich Road:


For a full description of this photo, click here

In our drinking glory days we had some epic nights in the old Red Lion, particularly when the legendary Ted Hussey was the landlord.
It was there that I first saw the folk band Cheshire Folk in the early 1970s – twenty years before the Folk & Boat Festival was even a gleam in anyone's eye.
And in 1977 I did a few  Sunday evening discos there after a recommendation from the late lamented Frank Robinson. It was the year Elvis died, and we spent a lot of time crying into our beer and playing his records, along with a new 'waxing' which at the time I thought was dire -  I Remember Elvis Presley by Danny Mirror. Our version was a 12 in coloured vinyl pressing. Time and age has mellowed my opinion, though, and the song now mostly inspires affection and nostalgia, not only for Elvis but for those early 'Dees Disco' days around the pubs of Middlewich.



I REMEMBER ELVIS PRESLEY (Danny Mirror)
YouTube link

(Not for the fainthearted)

It's easy to forget at this distance of time, but 'The King's' reign, from the time he burst on the scene in the 50s to his early demise in 1977 was a mere 20-odd years.

But the Red Lion at that time was not really a place for a disco, particularly on a Sunday evening.
Reg Bunn summed it all up perfectly when he asked me, 'what do they do - rattle their dominoes in time with the music?'
By 1979 I had moved to The Vaults and spent three fraught but basically happy years playing disco music to a (usually) more appreciative crowd. But that's a story for another time...

The Red Lion meanwhile moved on through a series of transmogrifications and failed experiments, aimed at finding a new format.
Most of these involved nailing old doors and other bits of rubbish on the ceilings and plastering the walls with 'jokes' and fake notices. These were, as a friend remarked, mostly 'about as funny as a rupture'.

The pub became the Cat's Whiskers, the Tut & Shive, the Tap & Spile and probably a few more before, briefly, reverting back to the Red Lion and then becoming the rather more successful Cats Bar for its final few years.
Now its pub days are gone, along with all the memories and it has become 'Lion House', a rather unlikely apartment building.

The old stable block (seen to the right of the picture) and the bowling green to its rear have also gone to be replaced by town houses.

Thus does poor old Middlewich pass from glory.

At least the building itself survives, albeit shorn of most of its interesting adornments and character.

Originally published 13th July 2011

Revised and re-published 17th August 2015

Facebook Feedback

When this Diary entry was re-published in August 2015 there was a great reaction from many people who remembered what we like to call the pub's 'glory days' - the days when, if you had a Saturday night out at the Red Lion, you knew you'd had a night out...

Anita Jane Keal I grew up on Nantwich Road, not far from the Red Lion, where the flats are now. I have such wonderful memories of this era, and  pictures like this bring a tear to my eye. In one such picture I saw Dad's old car parked outside our house. Now that did make me cry!

Dave Roberts I lived in Nantwich Road myself, at number 53, from 1952 to 1959. My sister lives just a few doors away from there now.

Anita Jane Keal It was such a wonderful era when we were kids - so carefree! Mind you, I did escape to play footie one day when I was five and got hit by a car outside our house, number 25. I still have the scars too! Dad worked in the Red Lion as a waiter for Ted. Then, as I got older, I worked there too, from 1986 to 1988

Debbie Fox My Mum still lives in the same house as I grew up in. I have very fond memories of playing on the park with the massive slide. Had a few fab nights in the Red Lion!

Dave Thompson Happy Days! Our first house was number 25.

Christine Ruscoe Yeowarts! I'm glad others remember this shop too!

Dave Prince Not as old as you, Mrs!

Jacqui Cooke I used to go in there for a quick one with my friends on a Friday and Saturday night while waiting for the bus to Mr Smith's Club in Winsford.

Craig Whitney What does the red sign say?

Dave Roberts The one at the top, underneath the attic window, says RED LION; the other one says CHESTERS - by then part of Whitbread.

Craig Whitney Was Chesters a pub chain or brewery?

Paul Stevens It's a brewery:

'Back in 1959 mild accounted for 42% of beer brewed. Twenty years later it was down to 10%, and today it's probably much less than that. Initially this steep decline was largely the result of selective advertising on bitter beers, but until the late 1970s most brewers still produced at least one mild.
Its last strongholds now are the Midlands and the North-West, especially the Manchester area. Its popularity there is perhaps typified by Chesters 'Fighting' Mild as it was endearingly known. Once a delicious dark mild - so dark that the first time you walked into a pub selling it you would be convinced everyone was drinking draught Guinness. The 'fighting' tag seems to be derived from typical scenes inside and out at the average Chesters House! Chesters was, sadly, closed by Whitbread in the 1980s.'

Colin Dutton I was born and bred at number one Nantwich Road, right next door, and I'm sure I was fed Whitbread bitter as a baby! They had a fantastic bowling green, as I remember. Chesters was a beer - bitter or mild.

Bernie O'Neill I remember it well, living there for 18 years and being crossed over the road to got to Yeowart's shop. Good picture! Dave, I must sort through those old films. There are lots of scenes showing trips to the races etc. from the Red Lion in the good old days!

Dave Costello (August 2017) Fond memories. I was born next door at number 1 Nantwich Road. At that time Mr Garner was the licensee. The pub and bowling green were my playground as my mate, Peter Gallimore, was the grandson of the landlord. Upstairs there was a billiard room. In the early days of the Ted Hussey era the pub had no music licence, but the lounge and bar were packed ever night. The lounge had table service, the waiters wearing very smart white 'Chesters' jackets. Sunday lunchtime, Tom Ryan, Ted's brother-in-law, would have twenty or thirty pints of mild ready pulled for the queue outside awaiting the mid day opening!
From Nantwich Road we moved across to Oddfellows Passage and from there to Cemetery Cottage in Chester Road where my dad was sexton. Three houses in a few years, and we'd hardly moved a hundred yards! At least I kept the same friends!

Delia Smith (August 2017) We used to go round as kids to the 'off sales' to get pop. There was always a lady in there with her dog, with a half of something.




First published 17th August 2015
Updated and re-published 22nd August 2017



Saturday, 19 August 2017

THE SECOND MIDDLEWICH MEXON STREET MARKET AUGUST 2017 (ARCHIVED)




A NEW TRADING OPPORTUNITY!
(Eventbrite link)




SUPPORTING THE MIDDLEWICH MEXON MARKET....






IF YOU'RE A SUPPORTER OF THE NEW MEXON MARKET, SEND US YOUR DETAILS AND WE'LL ADD YOU TO THE EVER-EXPANDING LIST OF THOSE HELPING GET THIS BRILLIANT NEW LOCAL INITIATIVE OFF THE GROUND!

First published 22nd July 2017
Re-published 16th August 2017
& 19th August 2017

Saturday, 12 August 2017

FAMILY FRIENDLY ACTIVITY DAY AT MARKET FIELD 12th AUGUST 2017 (ARCHIVED)






In memory of a much-loved and well-respected lady.

BRAKE - THE ROAD SAFETY CHARITY (WEBSITE)

Published 7th August 2017
Re-published 12th August 2017

SEVENTEEN MILES VIEW by GLEN LEIGH

Photo by Glen Leigh Photography
Sometimes a photograph is so striking that it just begs to be made into one of our Middlewich Diary mastheads. Such was the case with this astonishing image by Glen Leigh, who has contributed some excellent shots to us in the past, including some of passenger trains making their sedate way through the town.
Seventeen Miles View (a title taken from Glen's caption when he posted it on Facebook) is a stunning view across half of the Cheshire plain, taking in Middlewich church tower, the spire of St Wilfred's church in Davenham and, way out on the horizon, seventeen miles away, the imposing (even at this distance) bulk of the Fiddler's Ferry power station on the edge of the Mersey Estuary.
Glen hasn't told us (yet) where he was standing when he took the picture, but, from the angle of the church tower, we're guessing it was on top of the old ICI lime beds in Booth Lane.
There has some surmise as to how this effect was obtained. Is the image, perhaps, a compilation of two or three photos skilfully knitted together? Or is it, even more remarkably, just one single shot, taking in all those miles?
Glen lets us in on the secret:

To satisfy your curiosity guys this is just one photo, taken with an extremely long lens. The reason that far off distant objects appear close is due to lens compression (flattens perspective and bunches everthing up) which is the result of using long lenses...the further an object is away, the closer it appears in an image. 
Also the image was taken on the lagoons.....as to the precise location that would be a little more difficult to explain and very hard to see with the naked eye or wide lenses. Thank you for the interest


The photographers among us will be able to appreciate the technical skill involved in taking a photograph like this; the rest of us can only marvel at a composition many would have thought impossible.
An indication of the power of this photo, and the effect it had on us, can be gauged from the fact that from our seeing it on Facebook and  asking Glen for permission to use it, his sending us a high-resolution copy by email and the new masthead appearing took around twenty minutes.
Dave Roberts
Editor
26th March 2014

UPDATE (August 2017)

There was concern over the intervening years between 2014 and 2017 that the Fiddlers Ferry power station might be closed and demolished, making this photograph unrepeatable in the future. It's unlikely that when those massive cooling towers do finally disappear anything on remotely the same scale would be put in their place.
However, it has been announced that the power station will continue in use until at least 2019 to provide cover for the National Grid in the event of an exceptionally hard winter - something which by the law of averages is long overdue.

First published 27th March 2014
Updated and republished 12th August 2017

Friday, 11 August 2017

ACROSS THE CHESHIRE PLAIN 1972


 by Dave Roberts  

We were a little stuck for a title for this shot by Jack Stanier taken in 1972 from the Church tower and looking out towards Brooks Lane and the countryside beyond to the  hills bordering Staffordshire. It encompasses so much, not only in the town but further afield too.The original slide was given (by me) the less than enticing title 'Council Depot from Church Tower 1972' so I've tried to come up with something a little less prosaic. Perhaps this title goes a little too far the other way, but you can see right across the Cheshire Plain from here. Or across half of it, at any rate. A trip out to those same hills is always worthwhile. From the road up to Buxton there are incredible views over the plain, and on a good day you can see right out as far as Liverpool and beyond to the Irish Sea. And on clear Summer days in Middlewich looking in the other direction is also rewarding with the hills looking almost close enough to touch.
So what do we have here?
Left middle of the picture can be seen the sawmill in Brooks Lane and, just above it, the then-new rather futuristic-looking green building belonging to Middlewich sewage works (or to give it its official, slightly more grandiose title, the 'Middlewich Water Pollution Control Works', standing at the end of an access road which the Middlewich UDC, without a trace of irony, named Prosperity Way.
In the bottom left hand corner is the  British Waterways warehouse on Town Wharf, looking, as we've remarked before, in much better condition than it does today. Will the plans to turn this area into the 'Gateway To Middlewich' ever come to fruition?  To the right of this is the 19th century building which once housed Middlewich's first fire engine. Some fine terracotta work over the entrance to this old fire station announced its date of origin and its original purpose. When the time for demolition came, attempts were made to save these artifacts, but to no avail.* By this time the building, and others on the site, had been incorporated into the MUDC's depot which occupied the site of the Wych House Lane salt works and workshops until local government re-organisation a couple of years later.
To the right of this building can be seen the  rear of  the Cof E Infants School and Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Lewin Street both of which fell to progress a little later, in the mid 1970s.
The council's road maintenance gang were using the salt works site to house their vehicles and road mending materials at this time (although none of the trendy tangerine and delft blue vehicles appear in this picture), and some of the salt works' old buildings were retained for this purpose.  On the other side of the canal is Seabank, once linked to this area, as we've seen, by a footbridge. Above the depot the green building which Andersen Boats used when their business was first established can be seen and above that is the Seddon's works in Brooks Lane. At this time the works was being demolished, and evidence of this is seen in the splash of white below the left hand chimney which is actually part of the whitewashed interior of the works, visible because of the removal of the roof and the front part of the works.
This site, today the home of Tarmac Readycrete, we've often cited  as the only ex-open pan works left which is still recognisable as such, though that recognisability diminishes with the passing years.
Incidentally, this is the works featured on Middlewich Heritage Trust's logo which, purely coincidentally, bears a remarkable resemblance to our own photo of the works taken in 1969.

See this entry for a comparison of the works in 1969 (two years after closure) and in the spring of 2017.

Beyond that are green fields, Sandbach and the hills.
Note that there is little sign, to the left of the picture, of the extensive industrial developments off  Holmes Chapel Road. still to come. 
The Brooks Lane Industrial Estate, too, is still mostly in the future.

* we're delighted to say that we've been obliged to revise our thinking on this point. See this posting, and the comments attached to it

First published 11th August 2011
Revised and re-published 11th August 2017.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

PIRATE 'SHIP' VISITS MIDDLEWICH


by Dave Roberts
Here's a happy discovery made while on a walk up the SUC Middlewich Branch a few days before the FAB Festival. At first glance just another immaculately turned out pleasure boat, one of thousands which pass through our town every year.
But a closer look at this boat should, if you're of a certain age, love music, and have any romance in your soul, bring a smile to your face.
For this  is no ordinary boat.
 It's named Mi Amigo, after Radio Caroline's original pirate radio ship (Update: Actually that's not strictly true. Someone's taken the trouble to point out that the original Caroline ship was the MV Fredericia (or 'Frederica' according to which account you read), later renamed Caroline - see 'comments' below).



and there's an excellent illustration of that famous (or 'infamous', according to the boat's builders, Braidbar Boats) vessel on the cabin side.

It's fortuitous that the new Mi Amigo should choose to visit our landlocked little town, as it gives us an unprecedented opportunity to give Caroline a plug in the Middlewich Diary.

For Radio Caroline is by no means a thing of the past (although, unfortunately, the original Mi Amigo is - it sank in heavy seas in 1980).

The station can be found broadcasting away merrily on the internet (and various other outlets) and is still actively campaigning for a licence to broadcast on medium wave.
The original Mi Amigo        Photo: Bob le Roi


UPDATE(August 2017): In May 2017 that campaign bore fruit and Radio Caroline was given a licence to broadcast to Suffolk and North Essex on 648 Khz, ironically a frequency formerly used by the BBC World Service.

They still have a ship, too, the Ross Revenge, which is currently at anchor in the River Blackwater, giving everyone the opportunity to take a tour of the ship

You can listen to the station, and find out all about its fascinating and astonishing history, by visiting

THE RADIO CAROLINE WEBSITE

You can also find out more about the  NB Mi Amigo at

THE BRAIDBAR BOATS WEBSITE

P.S. If, like me, you're a real pirate radio anorak, you'll know that in the sixties we in the north had our own Radio Caroline broadcasting from a ship called (what else?) Caroline, and anchored off the Isle of Man.
Halcyon days.

RADIO CAROLINE NORTH WEBSITE
JOHN BENNETT'S CAROLINE NORTH FACEBOOK GROUP

Update: Radio Caroline celebrated her 50th Birthday on the 28th March 2014 (and also at Easter 2014 - like all Queens she has an actual and an official birthday). Many congratulations to all concerned with keeping this broadcasting legend alive -Ed)

First published 9th July 2012
Updated and re-published 9th August 2017

Sunday, 6 August 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)

Update (August 2017)

When a link to this diary entry was posted on the Cheshire's Railways Facebook group, John Tackley wrote:

'I was an engineering apprentice at Crewe works from 1948 to 1952 when these locomotives were built, and some were supplied with special brake actuating valves to allow 'auto train' operation as on the 'Dodger'.
My training included time at Crewe North shed, which provided footplate staff for the 'Dodger'.
It was operated by footplate staff on 'light duties', usually recovering from health problems, as most Crewe North work was for heavy express working which required tremendous stamina.
'He's on the Dodger' automatically meant the driver and fireman were having an easy time - perhaps that's where the expression originated?'


Many thanks to John for this fascinating, authentic and 'from the horse's mouth' account of how the 'Dodger' was operated all those years ago.


Photo: Railway Modeller Magazine



First published 8th May 2017
Updated and re-published 6th August 2017


Saturday, 5 August 2017

FORTY-EIGHT YEARS ON - WYCH HOUSE LANE


by Dave Roberts

It's hard to  believe that the two photos above show exactly the same place.
Forty-eight years separate the two shots - nearly half a century in which Middlewich, like every other town, has seen immense changes.
We're standing next to the bottom lock of the Brooks Lane flight and looking down towards the Town Wharf, Middlewich Church and, in the first picture Seddon's closed Wych House Lane salt works, in the second the Salinae Clinic and its grounds.
The problem with any modern day view of Middlewich is immediately apparent; the immense profusion of trees and bushes which has grown up in the intervening years makes it difficult to photograph anything identifiable at this distance.
Behind the trees on the left, where that singularly unattractive scrubland littered with the remains of old salt workings and old cars was in 1969, can be found Andersen's boat yard. There aren't many boats to be seen at the moment (August 2017) as we're at the height of the boat hire season and most of them are out cruising along Britain's waterways. The boats you can see on the other side of the canal, however, are part of the Andersen fleet.

A full description of the top picture can be found here.
To try to connect the two photos together, we can only refer you to our old friend St Michael's church tower, which can just be glimpsed amongst the vegetation above the canalside canopy at Andersen's.
One further thing ties the two photos together; on the left, just above the 'V' where the two paths diverge can be seen a gap in the wall.
We think this might just be where that blue brick pillar (thought to be part of a pipeline bridge over the canal at one time) stands in the earlier picture.
Here's a close up of that part of the wall, and you can see that there are certainly plenty of those industrial blue bricks still in evidence.


EUSTON-HOLYHEAD DIVERSIONS VIA MIDDLEWICH 5th/6th AUGUST 2017


by Dave Roberts

Here's our attempt to capture one of the  London Euston to Holyhead Virgin trains diverted via Middlewich on August 5th 2017. 
This is actually a still from a video which didn't quite work out due to low batteries in the camera.
The train (1D89 for those that like to know these things) reached Middlewich at around 5.15pm and is seen here travelling behind Brooks Lane. The building visible on the right with the steel framework on its roof is the old Murgatroyd's brine pump building, currently undergoing restoration and periodically open to the public. 
You can find out more about this historic structure here.
In the foreground is the ugly steel fencing erected by Network Rail a few years ago to keep people away from the railway track. At one time there was a local tradition, based on completely false information, that there was a 'right of way' alongside the line and many people used to walk their dogs there.*
There never was any 'right of way'. In fact, the 'dog walk' was for many years the 'salt siding' and was always railway property. Find out more about the salt siding here.

*Reports suggest that some people are still doing this, despite the added security. If this is true, these people are endangering their own lives and risking a £1000 fine for trespassing on the railway.


The Salt Siding 1969
Find out more about the campaign to bring passenger trains back to Middlewich (and Gadbrook Park) here


DIVERSIONS (AND FREIGHT) FOR SATURDAY 5th AUGUST COURTESY OF REAL TIME TRAINS.


DIVERSIONS FOR SUNDAY 6th AUGUST COURTESY OF IAN TRESMAN



These trains are also being diverted via Middlewich over the weekend of 12th/13th August

Thursday, 3 August 2017

HERITAGE SOCIETY PLAQUES (1) SALINAE CENTRE

In the 1990s Middlewich Heritage Society commissioned a number of metal plaques to be affixed to various buildings and features of historical interest in the town. Here's one of them, photographed in August 2011, which you will find on the front wall of Salinae, the day care centre and clinic in Lewin Street/Wych House Lane. So why photograph for posterity something which is itself designed to label Middlewich's heritage for the same purpose?
A couple of reasons, actually. Firstly, if you're a Middlewich resident or visitor it's relatively easy to wander about and take in the sites of interest and their accompanying plaques. But what if you left Middlewich many years ago and have found it difficult, or impossible, to get back here? What if you've (horror of horrors) never even been here? We hope the inclusion of these plaques will help fill these gaps and let everyone see via the internet what some of us can see whenever we want to.
We have, by the way, people all over the world looking at 'A Middlewich Diary', including avid followers in America, Canada, Spain, Germany, Sweden, and, intriguingly, Taiwan and  The Phillipines. A lot of these will be exiled Middlewichians, but some will have just stumbled across us by accident. How nice to be able to show all these people what used to be in Middlewich (and, equally importantly, what's here now).
And secondly, permanent as these plaques are, or appear to be, what happens if (God forbid) someone pinches one? What happens if a particular building is altered and the plaque is removed and someone loses it or 'forgets' to put it back? Presumably the Heritage Society has records of the plaques, and probably photographs and drawings too, but including them here is an additional safeguard.

Salinae 2nd August 2011

The culmination of those 600 years of salt making on the site was the Seddon's Wych House lane Works, which closed in 1967 but was still largely intact when this somewhat damaged slide was taken in 1969. The Salinae Clinic and its lawned area are where the salt works stood. In the foreground is the site now occupied by Andersen Boats and Wych House Lane ran (and still runs) down from Lewin Street to the canal alongside the salt works wall. Andersen's site was itself used for salt manufacture in the past. The grey brick construction in the centre of the picture is a column which once supported one end of a brine pipeline spanning the canal and River Croco. A full description of this photo can be found here

First published 3rd August 2011
Updated and re-published 3rd August 2017

WYCH HOUSE LANE 1969

A fascinating slide which was very nearly discarded when it got damaged by some kind of toxic glue dropping onto it (part of the results of this disastrous accident can be seen at the top of the picture - one of the salt works chimneys and the church tower have been slightly distorted as the film melted). The idea was to throw away the slide and walk down to the canal in order to take the picture again. The second part of the plan never happened, so it was most fortunate that the first part didn't either, and the original slide was kept in the slide box with all the others.
 This is one of the most interesting pictures in our collection. It's labelled 'Wych House Lane Works 1969', but shows, in fact, a lot more than just the then-closed Seddon's works.
We are standing on the first of the 'Big Three Locks' just off Brooks Lane at the point where the Trent & Mersey reaches the level it will stay at until it reaches the Big Lock. The Town Bridge is just out of shot to the right. Just in the picture on the extreme right is one of the chimneys from Seddon's Pepper Street Works. This was the chimney which, viewed from Lewin Street, appeared to be a part of St Michael's Church and inspired this article in the local paper.
The church also gives us a convenient reference point for this picture.
To the left of the Seddon's chimney we can just get a glimpse of the main warehouse building on the town wharf (at that time, as we've established, un-whitewashed) and, of course, next to that, Henry Seddon's Wych House Lane Works.
This works, along with its sisters in Pepper Street and Brooks Lane, had closed in 1967 but was, obviously, yet to be demolished. Although  three out of the four remaining open pan works in Middlewich belonged to Henry Seddon and Sons at their closure (the fourth, which belonged to Murgatroyd's and was close to Seddon's in Brooks Lane, closed in 1966) they all started life with different owners.
In the case of the Wych House Lane works, evidence of this is shown in particular by the design of the chimneys, which were, unlike the plain square ones found at the other two Seddon's works, of a quite distinctive 'stepped' design, tapering in stages towards the top. Whether this was done to make them more ornamental is unclear. It's unlikely, as salt works chimneys were always built as cheaply and simply as possible, as, indeed, were the works themselves.
The excellent Wych & Water by Tim Malim and George Nash, and published in 2009 by Middlewich Vision's Canal & Salt Town Project, features  maps showing the comings and goings of the various salt works over the years, and is highly recommended reading.
In the foreground is the area now occupied by Andersen Boats which provoked a lot of discussion in this posting, in which Colin Derek Appleton put forward the case for this area being part of the Brunner Mond Alkali Works of 1897 which is shown on the 1898 OS map as being a short distance away, in between Brooks Lane and the railway line. We were surmising that the works may have spread across the canal at one time, as such undertakings are apt to do once they start to expand.
The trouble with this theory  is that the same map shows a disused salt works on the site; the Newton Salt Works (the adjacent works, which is the one seen  in our photo, is shown as the 'Wych House Lane Dairy & Domestic Salt Works of 1892). So that appears to be the conclusive answer.
The blue brick structure in the middle foregound would appear to have been the remains of another one of those pipeline bridges which, presumably, brought brine across the canal and River Croco from Brooks Lane to the works which once stood here. At the time of our picture the area seems to be serving as a dumping ground for old cars.
It's interesting to note that at this time the MUDC's Wych House Lane depot cannot have existed, as the salt works was still standing. The council took over the site once the works had gone, but  itself ceased to exist in 1974, so the depot must have been very short lived indeed, even if it continued as such for a while under the auspices of the Borough of Congleton.
Behind the salt works chimneys can be seen one of  those Lewin Street buildings which have featured frequently in 'A Middlewich Diary' - the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel with its distinctive 'four pronged' tower.
This tower provides another point of reference for further musings on Wych House Lane (see below).
Before we leave Wych House Lane once again, it's worth concentrating on the section of this slide we have enlarged.
On the extreme left is the old building we featured in this posting and, to its right (next to the upper white caravan), the long building shown here which became part of the council depot.
If you look just to the right of the 'four pronged tower' you will see what appears to be a row of cottages at right angles to those buildings (one of the salt works chimneys is immediately to the right of it).
Can this possibly be what is now the 'House of Feathers'? I would have thought that that particular establishment was much smaller than the building shown here. Another exploratory trip down what's left of Wych House Lane seems to be on the cards.
And to the left of the 'four pronged tower' is another large building, actually on the other side of Lewin Street.
When I worked for the Middlewich UDC (round about the time this slide was taken, in actual fact), this was the local Valuation Office. To the left of it was the Conservative Club, where Middlewich Library now stands.
Can anyone remind me what that Valuation Office was originally?*
So there we have it, an exhaustive (not to say exhausting) look at a once interesting part of the town.
Nowadays, from the same vantage point, the view is of Andersen Boats, the Salinae Centre and the pleasant lawned area alongside the canal.

Facebook Feedback (from the Salt Town Productions Facebook group):
Paul Greenwood I walk home along this canal towpath often (I work up Brooks Lane) and I've taken many recent photographs from almost the exact same vantage point. The difference between then and now is astonishing. Thanks for posting Dave.



* The answer was supplied by Bill Eaton, who occasionally passes on items from the collection of the late Frank Smith of Ravenscroft. The building was the Congregational Sunday School.






I remember it just like that

First published 29th October 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 3rd August 2017