Monday, 11 December 2017

SANTA'S SLEIGH ROUTES 2017




TOMORROW -
TUESDAY 12th DECEMBER:
Long Lane, Manor Crescent, Denbigh Crescent, Rutland Drive, St Ann's Road, Hubert Drive, Stallard Way, Bembridge Drive, King Edward Street, Westlands Road, Nantwich Road, Glastonbury Drive.

WEDNESDAY 13th DECEMBER:
Rushton Drive, Rolt Crescent, Hayhurst Avenue, Eaton Drive, Brynlow Drive, Greendale Drive, Longmoss Close

THURSDAY 14th DECEMBER:
Queen's Drive, George VI Avenue, Moss Drive, Chadwick Road, Jubilee Pastures, Coronation Road, The Green, 

Warmingham Lane, Livingstone Way, Davenham Way, Whatcroft Way

Friday 15th December:
Alexandra Road, Cross Lane, Booth Lane, Cledford Crescent, Sycamore Drive.


Monday 18th December:
Lewin Street, Maidenhills, Wardle Mews, St Ann's Avenue, Kitfield Avenue, Elm Road, Long Lane South, Sutton Lane.


Tuesday 19th December:
Chester Road, Croxton Lane, Beechfield Drive, Waterside Way, Meadow View, Finney's Lane, Webbs Lane, The Moorings, Wheelock Street, Darlington Street, Newton Heath.


Wednesday 20th December:
Holmes Chapel Road, Dexter Way, White Park Close, Hereford Way, Pennymoor Drive, King Street, Coriander Close, Hadrian Way, New King Street, Regency Walk.

First Published 4th December 2017
Re-published 11th December 2017

AN AWKWARD TURN TO THE LOMPON

We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know.

A what? Middlewichians (or 'Middlewichers', which seems to be the favoured current term) of long-standing might just understand why I have used this particular title for this posting. It's another one of those familiar postcards of old Middlewich scenes we all grew up with and 'An Awkward Turn To The Lompon' was the title/description hand-written on the original negative, although it's missing from  this particular print, which we’ve borrowed from the invaluable Paul Hough Collection.
So what does it mean?
I always, without really thinking it through, had a vague idea that it might, in some way, be a corruption of 'lump pan' but this, of course, is a dead end. The nearest lump pans were some distance away in Wych House Lane or Pepper Street.
But the word 'lompon' does have a kind of authentic Cheshire dialect ring to it, so I consulted A Glossary Of Words Used In the County Of Chester  published by Robert Holland of Frodsham in 1885 and found this:

LOMPOND (or, as it should probably be spelt, LOM POND) - the pond in a farm yard into which all refuse runs.
There is a place at the junction of two brooks,the Allum and the Croco at Kinuerton (sic -ed)called Lompon - The Cheshire Sheaf (The Cheshire Sheaf was a regular column featured in the Chester Courant newspaper)

So 'Lompon' was, or could have been, a Cheshire word for a kind of muck hole or cesspit. But how does this fit in with the picture above, which has teased and tantalised many of us for years? According to Brian Curzon  in Images of England - Middlewich (Tempus Publishing 2005)the large building in the centre of the photograph is  the Navigation Inn, which was one of those split level pubs with entrances at street level and canal level, and stood immediately next to the old Town Bridge, and the motorcycle and sidecar are turning from Mill Lane (where Town Bridge Motors now is) to take an immediate left turn onto the bridge.
But, if Brian Curzon is right, here's the enigma: when you turn out of Mill Lane today onto Town Bridge, you turn right, not left.
If we take the picture and flip it horizontally it makes more sense.

In this case Kinderton Street would come in from the left behind the buildings on the extreme left of the picture and Mill Lane would have had to have been a much more substantial road than it is now. What's more, its alignment would have had to have changed a lot since those days.
But, in any case, could a picture like this have been published 'back to front' for so many years without anyone noticing?
(In any case, John Capper has pointed out that, in the reversed version, the sidecar is on the wrong side for the UK, which is 'not out of the question, but unlikely'.)
It just doesn't seem to ring true, whichever way you look at it (to coin a phrase). The road in the foreground is much more likely to be Kinderton Street itself,  but, if we take that to be true the picture remains a bit of an puzzle. 
Perhaps the building on the left (of the top picture) wasn't the Navigation Inn at all. Perhaps the hostelry in question is, in fact, out of sight behind the building on the right? This would make the road in the foreground Kinderton Street all right, but what, then, were all those buildings to the left?
Are they the buildings seen on the right of this picture? 




They don't look like them.
Now we can begin to see why this particular postcard has always puzzled people. We all know what it depicts, or is supposed to depict but, somehow, the pieces won't fall into place properly. We have a nagging feeling that, somehow, in some way, the picture is 'the wrong way round'.
To simplify our dilemma: I've looked at this old postcard thousands of times as a straightforward picture of a motorbike and sidecar travelling down Kinderton Street on its way to pass over the old town bridge. Why, then, is it turning left?
The answer has to be that the alignment of Kinderton Street was drastically altered when the new bridge was built and that was a lot more demolition than I'd thought. (Another red herring, with hindsight, when you know the real solution to the mystery -Ed).
But just where was the ‘Lompon' anyway? It must have been a familiar local name, to have been thought worthy of a mention on a postcard. But why would a cesspit be a local landmark? Then again, this is Middlewich...
Was it a reference to the River Croco itself which, as we've discussed before, seems to have been used as a drainage culvert for most of its long history?
On the other hand, the name Lompon, as used here, may have nothing whatsoever to do with cesspits and drainage, and might have another source altogether.
And what about the other brook, the Allum, which is supposed to join the Croco somewhere near here?
Well, actually I have a theory about that which will have to wait for another day.
Incidentally, non-Middlewichers may like to note that the word 'awkward' in our title should be pronounced 'ockud'.

Cliff Astles says: Sure this one was taken of the old Middlewich Town Bridge over the Trent & Mersey Canal, some time in the early 1900s, The motorbike and sidecar are a giveaway. This would be well before the new 
Town Bridge was built (1931-Ed). The corner of the building on the right may even be the Talbot Hotel.



As is usual with this kind of problem, the actual answer is very simple, and was 'there all the time'.

We have indeed been looking at the picture 'the wrong way round' but not in the way we surmised.

Here's the answer.

The following was originally published as a separate Diary entry. For convenience, we've combined the two entries together.

We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know
We're very grateful to Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council for sending us an aerial view of Middlewich as it was in 1928. I've seen this aerial view many times, as it hung for a long time  in a corridor in the Boar's Head Hotel in Kinderton Street (it probably still does)* The picture above is a section of that aerial view showing the  Town Bridge area as it was then, and solving, after all these years, the mystery of where the 'Awkward Turn To The Lompon' photo was actually taken. It's strange indeed that no one I ever spoke to about this ever made the connection between the two photos, because the truth is plain to see. That's a very distinctive group of buildings.


When we said  that we may have been looking at the picture 'the wrong way round' we were closer to the truth than we knew.
It's obvious from the above that the motorbike and sidecar combination was not in Kinderton Street at all, but in Lower Street and travelling in the opposite direction, towards Holmes Chapel.
To drive home the point, and to coin another phrase - X Marks The Spot.
There even seems to be another motorbike and sidecar combination on the bridge in this shot.
So Kinderton Street itself may not have changed its alignment very much in the sweeping changes of 1931, but, on the other side of Town Bridge, Lower Street certainly did. In fact it's still hard to get one's head around that abrupt turn off the bridge. But it has to be remembered that a section of Middlewich churchyard was removed in 1931 to enable the widening of Lower Street. Part of the Town Hall was also demolished at this time, and the building can be seen in its original form at bottom right. In the changes of the 1970s the 'Church' side of  the street was left alone, and all the demolition took place on the opposite side of the road.
At the top of the photo, Middlewich Town Wharf can be seen, seemingly in those days much more a part of the town centre, rather than being separated from it as is the case today (a situation which, we hope, will change once again when the 'Gateway To Middlewich' scheme finally comes to fruition).
All the buildings around the Town Bridge also went in 1931, of course, and the  road crossing it was considerably altered and widened.
We'll be returning to this fascinating 1928 view of our town to study other sections of it in future postings.

Very interesting stuff of course (for some of us, anyway) but we still have to find out why this particular part of Middlewich should be called 'The Lompon'. So on we go...

John Capper I'm glad that has been solved. That 1928 picture is fascinating. Looking at the position of the sidecar on the road in that picture I think confirms it was an awkward turn. It's a good job the roads were quiet then.

Dave Roberts Yes. Were there a lot more motorbike/sidecar combinations about at that time, John? Because that could explain the title. That turn from Lower Street onto Town Bridge may have been notorious among the biking fraternity, and well enough known for everyone to 'get the joke'.

John Capper. I believe there were. An alternative to the family car which would have been unaffordable to a lot of people then.




First published 7th/8th December in two parts December 2011

Re-published 11th December 2017 as a combined entry.

















Friday, 8 December 2017

THE MIDDLEWICH CHARITY SHIELD, NEW YEARS DAY 2018




The Middlewich Charity Shield

A report from our friends at the





Always the very first Middlewich Event of every year, the Annual Middlewich New Year's Day Treasure Hunt is competed for come rain or shine 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 were a little different.

Melody Smith  volunteered - for one year only - to set the questions for the 2017 Treasure Hunt and guaranteed a great time for all concerned.

During the time she spent organising the 2017 event, Melody managed to put together a brief history of the event, which can be found by scrolling down the page.

We're still interested to find out more about the history of the Middlewich Treasure Hunt. 

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? 

The Middlewich Diary would love to hear more of the history of this cherished Middlewich Institution.

If you can help, please email us at:

middlewichdiary@aol.com

or visit our new, dedicated, Facebook Group at

MIDDLEWICH CHARITY SHIELD FACEBOOK GROUP

(administered by MELODY SMITH and DAVE ROBERTS))


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 2018 will be announced soon. 


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)
2017 Chubby's Christmas Chickens

Dave Roberts
Editor


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.



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 3rd December 2017
Updated 8th December 2017

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

THE MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN 1992-2015

by Dave Roberts


For me it all began in the early 1990s with a photograph and short paragraph in RAIL magazine announcing that the section of the Sandbach-Northwich branch line between Middlewich and Northwich was to be closed to all traffic, leaving only the section from Sandbach Junction to Middlewich, including the Middlewich loop, open to cater for dwindling traffic from British Salt and Hay's Chemicals.

The news, as can be imagined, caused more than a small pang of regret.
I had grown up with this railway, having lived across the road from it in King Street from 1959 to 1983.
I was old enough to have travelled on 'The Dodger' during its last year of operation, and had spent hours in the signal box, along with many other local youngsters, and listened to the tales of, among others, signalman David Myles who was in later years to become a drinking partner in the Kings Arms.

Middlewich signal box and the closed station in 1963. Photo: J.H. Priestley/Subterranea Britannica


'Jock' Myles was a legendary figure.
As another of his followers, railway writer Alan Wilkinson, has said, he found the actual running of trains more of a nuisance and an inconvenience than anything else and would have preferred to concentrate on his hobbies - betting on the horses (the signal box radio, an early transister model, was permanently tuned to racing commentaries) and drinking in the nearby Boar's Head Hotel where, local legend had it, he was a member of the domino team.
One of our favourite Jock stories told of the time when the driver and fireman of a goods train from Crewe found themselves held at a red signal in Brooks Lane for an inordinate length of time.
Telephone calls to the signal box were unanswered ( this was, of course, many years before mobile phones and 'cab to shore radio') and so the fireman took a stroll down the track to the Boar's Head to hoist Jock away from a game of dominoes.
Whether the story is true or not - most likely not, of course - the fact that we used to believe it is an indication of 'Jock's' status as a local celebrity.



A coal train enters the Middlewich Loop, 3rd July 1964. Was this the one Jock Myles was rumoured to have held up while he played dominoes? Photo: Alan Wilkinson
The Middlewich line was very busy in the 1960s and 70s, even though the passenger service had ended at the end of 1959 and goods services at the station itself been withdrawn in 1967 (coincidentally a hundred years after the line opened). 
My childhood years in King Street were lived to the accompaniment of clanking and hissing steam locomotives (slowly merging, as the sixties gave way to the seventies, into the throbbing and high-pitched whistling of diesels) and the clattering of shunting in the goods yard across the road.

Like many people in Middlewich I had always hoped that one day passenger trains might return to the line and our town get back its station (a hope which, it seems almost incredible to recall, could as recently as the early 1990s, easily gain you a reputation as 'a dreamer', a 'hopeless romantic' or even a 'nutcase') and so British Rail's 'death sentence' on the Middlewich-Northwich section of line, to be followed, no doubt, soon afterwards by the inevitable closure of the rest of the line as the salt and chemical traffic disappeared was a bitter blow.

I decided to do some investigating and found that just beyond the River Dane aqueduct in King Street a 'Limit Of Shunt' sign had been placed across the track, indicating that no more trains would be passing that way.
It didn't make sense. What would happen to the passenger trains diverted along the line when the Crewe-Chester line was closed (a use for the line still cited frequently today as evidence of the line's suitability for passenger trains)?
Could this vital section of railway really be gone forever?

The answer wasn't long in coming.
 A few days later where once there had been a 'Limit Of Shunt' sign an inter-city train (in 'full regalia' as I reported at the time) could be seen making its stately way along the supposedly 'closed' section of line heading for Northwich.


Inter-City HST 'in full regalia'. The one I saw on the Middlewich line wasn't travelling quite as fast as this one. Photo: Mark George Photography
So what had happened to the closure?
It was, apparently, all down to internal politics within British Rail.
At that time the various sectors of the 'business' were responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the network's infrastructure.
In the case of the Middlewich line, the Railfreight sector had clashed with the Inter-City sector over who should pay for the line; toys had been thrown out of prams and a major hissy-fit had resulted in the closure of part of the line for about three days.

Then, of course, not for the first (or last) time, the importance of that short piece of line had been realised and a compromise had been reached.

Suppose - just suppose- it hadn't and the Northwich section had remained closed? As I've hinted above the rest of the line would surely have closed shortly afterwards due to dwindling salt and chemical traffic and the task of re-opening the line to passengers would have been made infinitely more difficult.

As if it isn't difficult enough, I hear you cry!

This close shave sparked a renewed interest in our local railway line, and I wondered again if there might be some mileage in a campaign to bring back passenger trains and re-open the station.

The idea had been mooted twice before (to my knowledge).
Shortly after closure, in the early sixties, none other than Signalman Myles had put the idea to the then British Railways, and received very short shrift.

A decade later County Councillor Dorothy Roberts tried again, but, again, with little success.

Quite simply, the time wasn't right. And wouldn't be for another twenty years.

Contrary to popular belief, the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign was never 'my' campaign.
I didn't start it and wasn't even its chairman for a few years after I first got involved.

In 1992, before it was possible for most of us to find out anything we wanted via the internet, information was hard to come by but, eventually, I heard about the Mid Cheshire Rail Users Association (MCRUA), the body which looks after the interests of passengers on the Manchester-Chester (via Northwich) line.

One of the aspirations which MCRUA had for the local railway network was the re-opening of the Middlewich line to passengers, the establishment of a regular Manchester-Crewe service on the line and the re-opening of the station at Middlewich.

As well as giving our town its railway service back, this would also provide passengers using stations east of Northwich with a direct service to Crewe without the need to travel via Manchester or Chester.
This point, although considered almost incidental at the time, has been the catalyst for the revived campaign, under its new name of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign.

A tie-up with MCRUA seemed an obvious way to push forward the idea of re-opening Middlewich station to passengers, and I phoned Andrew MacFarlane, who was the Association's chairman at that time. Andrew invited me to a meeting at the Lion & Railway Hotel, close to Northwich station (now,like so many pubs, given over to 'apartments').
The Lion & Railway, Northwich, close to Northwich railway station, the scene of my first MCRUA meeting in 1992, reached by push-bike. Since the pub's conversion to 'apartments' the Lion & Railway sign (the hanging one, that is) has been retained, but whether by accident or design is not clear. Photo: Creative Commons

Incredible as it may sound I travelled to that meeting not by car or bus (and, of course, certainly not by train) but on my trusty old pushbike.
Once there I learned all about MCRUA and its support for the idea of passenger trains on the Middlewich line. Before I could stop myself I had volunteered my services as representative 'on the ground' here in Middlewich of what would, eventually, become the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign.

Reaction to the idea of a re-opening campaign here in the town was mixed.
The vast majority of people were, and of course still are, very much in favour. There were, though, a few dissenters and, human nature being what it is, those are the people whose views stick in the mind.

One local councillor, who it is kindest not to name, said, 'it's ridiculous. Everybody has a car these days!' - as neat an example of missing the whole point as you'll ever find. The very fact that 'everyone has a car these days' is what has led to the need (and the ever-increasing demand) for rail services.

From others came the usual, dispiriting, 'you're wasting your time!', the traditional cry heard in Middlewich every time someone comes up with a good idea, and originating usually from those who do nothing most days of their lives except themselves waste time.
But my favourite of all the 'anti' comments - and, in truth, when you consider that the original MRLC Campaign ran for 23 years, there have only been a handful - was reported to me by someone who was listening to a group of distinguished railway 'experts' in the Kings Arms one day.
According to these transport gurus I was 'an idiot' who ought to have known that the Middlewich branch line had been closed, and the line lifted, 'years ago'. 
Which must have made the going a bit difficult for all those freight and diverted
passenger trains which have been using the line for all these years.

I've been saying for almost twenty-five years now that if someone can come up with a reason - a good reason - why the Middlewich line should not re-open to passengers, I'd listen. 
No one has.

Of course there have been one or two people who have opposed the re-opening for their own reasons.
People, for example, who live alongside the track and fear that increased rail traffic will mean increased noise and vibration.
We have argued that small, lightweight, passenger trains will cause little, if any, extra noise and vibration and pointed out that all railway lines are used as and when required and the Middlewich line could at any time be used for frequent heavy freights as it was in the past.
There would be nothing that anyone could do about it.
The ultimate solution, of course, as we've also repeatedly pointed out, is not to live near a railway line.

Soon the regular monthly meetings held at the Boar's Head came under the umbrella of MCRUA's Middlewich & West Cheshire Committee (the West Cheshire line is the now-lifted link from Mouldsworth on the Mid-Cheshire line to Helsby which, along 
with the Middlewich line and the now also-defunct Sandbach-Alsager line, once formed an important route for oil trains from Ellesmere Port to Stoke.
It has been one of our functions to keep a 'watching brief' on the West-Cheshire line to ensure that the track-bed is kept clear for possible re-use some enlightened day in the future.

These early Middlewich meetings were originally chaired by then MCRUA Chairman Andrew MacFarlane, who continued the tradition of using push-bikes by cycling to Middlewich from Northwich Station once in a while, having travelled from Altrincham by train.

The Middlewich and West-Cheshire Committee did sterling work in keeping the idea of re-opening the line before the public and, slowly but surely, we began to win the doubters over.

Naturally, one of our first ideas was to involve what was still British Rail at the time and to ask them to send representatives to talk to us.
Amazingly, they accepted and two 'network development' bods came down from Manchester to talk to me at a hastily-arranged site meeting on Middlewich Station Bridge in Holmes Chapel Road.

Also present were Peter Cox (MRLC Deputy Chairman) and the then-ubiquitous Norman Macklin, son of Middlewich's last station-master.

The whole meeting can best be described as a farce, and went something like this:

1st BR BOD: So where does this line go to?*
ME: Haven't you looked at a map?
2nd BR BOD: No.
ME: Well it goes to Northwich in that direction (pointing north) and Sandbach (gesturing across the road) in that direction.
1st BR BOD: And what's at Northwich? Are there spring-loaded points?
ME: (puzzled) Not as far as I know.
2nd BR BOD: When did the line close?
ME: It didn't. It's still open for freight.
2nd BR BOD: (surprised) Really!

...and so on.

*Of course, the reply to 1st BR BOD'S first question should have been, 'it doesn't go anywhere, it just lies there,' but I decided against it.

There were, as can be imagined, frequent interjections from Norman Macklin.
As can also be imagined, they didn't really get us any further forward.
But wouldn't you have thought that, before coming out to look at our line, these BR 'network developers' might have taken the trouble to read something about it, find out  something about its history and/or potential. Or, at the very least, look at a map?

Sadly, this has been our experience with representatives of the railway industry throughout (until, it has to be said,very recently). 
They all seemed to know little and care less.

Around the same time as this odd encounter a local developer told me that he had been approached by British Rail suggesting that the Middlewich line should be turned into a road to serve one of his new estates in Holmes Chapel Road.
With 'friends' like that, who needs enemies?

Soon the Middlewich Committee, which was never really a 'committee' in the true sense of the word, had become the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign with me as Chairman and Peter Cox as Vice-Chairman and we settled in for the long-haul, winning hearts and minds and trying in vain to get the then transport authority, the Cheshire County Council, to do something about at least starting the ball rolling.




The CCC would send a representative down to Middlewich once a year to explain how the Council were 'supporting' the re-opening of the Middlewich line. 
And the more we asked them to define 'supporting' the more evasive they got.

Significantly, the CCC would not do for Middlewich what they had done for the campaign to re-open Beeston Castle & Tarporley Station - i.e. commission a feasibility study. 
The reason why was obvious to us; the Beeston scheme (as someone at the CCC will have known full well) was proved to be a non-starter.
But had the County had a different result from a Middlewich study - which it most certainly would - it would have meant actually doing something about our scheme rather than just talking about it.

MRLC, working with CEC and other bodies later commissioned  no less than two feasibility studies - the Chapman Report and the Railway Consultancy Report which both gave a resounding YES to the proposals.

Incidentally, it is heartening to see that information from these reports is, at last, set to be used as the basis for serious consideration of the re-opening scheme under the auspices of the new Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign.

And so the MRLC years rolled by.
Winston Lea gets a job as a temporary road sign...not really, of course. Winston is proudly displaying the old LNWR signal box sign which MRLC rescued from exile in  Uttoxeter. To the left is MRLC Vice-Chairman Peter Cox. The scene is Middlewich Station Bridge, which has since been re-modelled. Photo: MRLC


We successfully managed to keep the idea of a new station and a passenger service for Middlewich alive. One of our best moves was to enlist the aid of Congleton MP Fiona Bruce, who presented our petition to Parliament and has never missed an opportunity to bring up the scheme with the powers-that-be both at Cheshire East and Westminster.


Fiona Bruce in Parliament   Photo: Catholic Herald/BBC

Incidentally, those who glibly assert that Fiona Bruce 'wouldn't know where Middlewich is' and all the rest of it, might like to note that she has attended many MRLC meetings here in the town since being elected and has always shown a keen and intelligent interest in our proposals, and done everything within her power to make sure they become reality. Please note that this is simply a statement of fact - we do not get involved in politics, local or otherwise, and never have.

With the demise of the old CCC and the creation of Cheshire East Council we turned our attention to this new body and began lobbying for this much-needed service for Middlewich and, of course, for Cheshire and the North-West generally.

Cheshire East has always made it clear that it considers the best hope for a new passenger service for Middlewich is as a feeder service for the proposed new HS2 hub station at Crewe.


Photo: Cheshire East Council

The council also has big, though as yet undefined, plans for railfreight facilities near Middlewich which, if they come to fruition, will change the face of what they have taken to calling the 'Middlewich Rail Corridor' beyond recognition.

This is an oft-told story and I don't propose to tell it again.

Suffice it to say that when the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign decided that pressure should be put on Cheshire East to consider the Middlewich scheme on its own merits
rather than as a adjunct to HS2, and to revitalise the campaign, I decided to bow out as Chairman.

The revitalised campaign would, in effect, be a new campaign, with the focus on the wider benefits the re-opening would bring to communities across Cheshire as well as to Middlewich, and I felt that, after twenty-three years, I would have little to contribute.

What was needed was a new chairman, capable of talking with people at Network Rail, Cheshire East and all the other parties involved on equal terms, and the welcome appointment of Stephen Dent, ex-Assistant Town Clerk and a man with vast experience in local government and administration means that the newly-renamed Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign has just the man for the job.
Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign Chairman Stephen Dent and Secretary Samantha Moss  Photo: Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign


Local councillor Samantha Moss has enthusiastically taken up the role of Secretary to the new campaign, while Peter Cox remains as Vice-chairman.

The relaunch of the campaign has also seen a much-needed influx of 'new-blood' with new members taking on  the vital administrative roles the campaign needs, most maintaining a high profile, but  some preferring to stay slightly disconcertingly in the shadows.

The 'new' campaign has been kind enough to offer me the role of Honorary President, which I was  honoured to accept.

I hope the Middlewich Rail Link Campaign has laid the foundation for the ultimate success of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign and it goes without saying that I will do everything I can to help achieve that success. 

On this last day of 2015 I wish everyone involved the very best for the New Year and hope that 2016 brings the progress that everyone's hard work deserves.

Many thanks to the many people who have been involved with MRLC over the years. They are, to employ a well-worn cliché, too many to mention...

As far as I'm concerned, MRLC only failed in one regard. 

Someone once described our meetings as 'little more than a Gentleman's Drinking Club'.


Well, I don't know about you, but I'd regard any Gentleman's Drinking Club which only met for an hour  every two months  to be a bit of a damp squib.

It's no Middlewich Beer Festival, that's for sure!



Dave Roberts
Queen Street
Middlewich
New Years Eve 2015

© Salt Town Productions 2015

This was the final posting on the now-archived MRLC site

THE FIGHT CONTINUES WITH THE


CAMPAIGN



COMMENTS (from the MRLC SITE)

Peter Hirst 1 January 2016
  1. An interesting synopsis that fills a few gaps for me. The danger is that we get a line and no station. A fascinating photograph of the old station.
  2. Thanks for your comment, Peter, and thanks also for your hard work for the campaign over the years as a councillor. You're one of the 'too many to mention', of course. I'm sure your help will be invaluable to the Mid-Cheshire RLC as it gets ever closer to achieving its goal.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON NEW YEARS EVE 2015 AS 'THE WORLD'S MOST UNSUCCESSFUL GENTLEMAN'S DRINKING CLUB'
RE-PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 6th 2017 AS 'THE MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN 1992-2015'