Wednesday, 31 January 2018

MIDDLEWICH DIARY MASTHEAD FOR FEBRUARY 2018


Our masthead for February features a beautifully evocative photograph called Shroppie Sunset which we found on the Fuel Boat Halsall's Facebook page and have reproduced here with their permission.

Fuel Boat Halsall is a historic narrowboat trading on the Shropshire Union, Staffs and Worcs and Trent & Mersey canals, as well as on the River Weaver. The boat is a frequent visitor to Middlewich.

Find out more here:

FOUR COUNTIES FUELS WEBSITE










Here's the original photograph.


Photo courtesy of Fuel Boat Halsall / Four Counties Fuels


THE NOSEY PEAKER, JUNE 14th 2018

Photo: The Branch Line Society

The Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway line is no stranger to special charter trains, usually designed to give railway buffs a chance to travel on routes not normally used by regular passenger trains. 
One such train, organised by the Branch Line Society, is running on the 14th June and once again gives people a chance to travel on our local line and to take some memorable photographs of the route before the now inevitable day when it is upgraded for regular passenger use.

Here are the full details, courtesy of the Branch Line Society....


The Branch Line Society is delighted to announce an exciting loco hauled charter train in conjunction with Railway Children, operated by Direct Rail Services (DRS), traversing unusual lines in the North West, with a leg stretch break and photo stop at Reddish South! The train will have five First Class open coaches available for passenger use and will be hauled by three DRS Class 37s operating (2+1) in top 'n tail formation, subject to availability. As usual, there will be an on train raffle with proceeds donated to Railway Children. There will be a buffet service of hot / cold drinks and light snacks, and the opportunity to purchase hot breakfast rolls. Note that the service terminates at Crewe. All bookings via the Branch Line Society (link below). The train is strictly limited to a maximum of 210 passengers.

Our ROUTE, validated and bid to Network Rail, is as follows:

Stafford P1 08.30 (PU) - Dn Slow - Basford Hall Dn Fast Independent - Sorting Sidings North Jn - South Yard Bypass - Crewe P12 09.00 (PU/RM) - Crewe PAD No.2 Road (RM) - Dn Manchester Independent - Stockport P4 - Dn Fast - Manchester Piccadilly - Ordsall Curve - Manchester Victoria 10.30 (PU) - Ashton Moss North Jn - Denton Jn - Reddish South (break) - Heaton Norris Up Goods Loop - Stockport - Hazel Grove - Buxton (RM) - Buxton XYZ Sidings (RM) - Peak Forest - New Mills South Jn - Dn Cheadle Loop - Northenden Jn - Altrincham - Northwich - Sandbach - Up Manchester Loop - Crewe P1 17.00( SD)

Timings and routing are provisional and subject to confirmation through the Network Rail planning process.

FARES:

BLS member First Class fare with a complimentary hot drink and snack £59.00

Accompanied under 18s benefit from a £5.00 reduction in all fares whilst non-members are subject to a £12.00 surcharge. Please note that we are unable to accept bookings from unaccompanied under 18s.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

P.S. If you're wondering where the train gets its unusual name from, we're assuming that 'nosey' comes from the use of the vintage Class 37 diesel locos, noted for their bonnets or 'noses' and 'peaker' from the fact that the train is visiting the peak district around Buxton and New Mills, the whole thing being a slightly laboured pun on 'nosey parker'.






Tuesday, 30 January 2018

MIDDLEWICH IN 1987: V.T. WILLIAMS' DELICATESSEN

It's time for another of our little journeys back in time to see what Middlewich had to offer in terms of shopping twenty-five or so years ago.
This photo from the Carole Hughes/Diane Parr collection shows us that the town's efforts to provide something rather more 'upmarket' than the norm is nothing new.
This shop, offering a delicatessen and 'high class provisions' was owned and operated by husband and wife V.T. (Trevor) and E. (Enid) Williams who also had a somewhat larger establishment in Holmes Chapel during this period*.
Later, part of the premises  was turned into a sandwich bar to cater for the increasing amount of people who worked in shops and offices in the town and wanted to buy a lunchtime snack.
Trevor was also the owner of the splendid Georgian house at the top end of Southway which once boasted a swimming pool in the garden.
We met one of Trevor's daughters, Fiona, here during her time as a member of the original Middlewich Youth Theatre in the 1970s.
In the present day this shop, externally largely unaltered, is home to the Paragon Cantonese Takeaway.


The Paragon as it was in October 2012

On the extreme right we can just see part of Farrall Cleaners which also appears to be in a similar condition today. Even the signboard looks the same.

*see information below from Diane Russell and Geraldine Williams-Ed

Diane Russell says, 'the shop in Holmes Chapel belonged to Trevor's brother who had a son called Fred (real name Dorian). He was in the same class as myself and your sister (Cynthia).
Blue Ginger *next door to Paragon used to be a furniture shop which belonged to Enid's parents. They lived in the large house in Southway next to Barclay House called The Poplars.

 The house could also be reached by going through the furniture shop and out of the back, as I did on a couple of occasions with Fiona, who was also in the same class as myself and Cynthia.
And Geraldine Williams told us: 'Enid's parents, who owned the furniture shop, were Sammy and Barbara Moss. Enid and her elder sister Maureen used to attend the school run by Mrs Plant at Ravenscroft Hall, which boasted a very smart uniform!'
Diane adds, 'Maureen owned the whole block where Forshaw's and Cynthia's are now and ran a hairdressers there. She lived above the shop. Her husband Alan still lives in Middlewich'

Many thanks to Diane and Geraldine for this additional information.

Facebook Feedback:

Bill Armsden Great Dave. Love the links to and from the current users of that building too. Makes The Middlewich Directory a current part of the Town's trading history.

*Blue Ginger, as we've seen elsewhere, was also at one time Franco's restaurant, and before that, The King's Mexon, owned by Steve and Barbara Wells - Ed.

First published 26th January 2013
Revised and re-published 30th January 2018








Saturday, 27 January 2018

EDITORIAL: THE MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN HEADS FOR SUCCESS

RAIL Magazine is published fortnightly by Bauer Media, Peterborough. It's available at all good newsagents, supermarkets and other outlets.


by Dave Roberts,

It's gratifying to note that RAIL Magazine, Britain's leading railway journal, continues to take an interest in our campaign to re-introduce a Crewe-Manchester passenger service via the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line, and to build new stations at Middlewich and Gadbrook Park.

Paul Stephen's article (illustration above) is just the latest in a whole series of articles and features examining  in detail the proposals for this 'simplest of all rail re-openings' and coming down, not unnaturally, on the 'yes' side.

Paul's article reports that Rail Minister Paul Maynard, 'in response to lobbying from the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and local MP Esther McVey (Conservative, Tatton)' has now 'instructed the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to create a working group to examine proposals for re-opening, including the construction of new stations at Middlewich and Gadbrook park'.

It goes on to say, 'the campaign received a further boost on November 30th when Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said he was 'sympathetic' to the idea of restoring scheduled passenger services, and that he had asked Transport for the North (TfN) to consider its inclusion in TfN's Strategic Transport Plan and long-term investment programme once it becomes a sub-national transport authority in April.'

MCRLC chairman Stephen Dent paid tribute to our three local MPs Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Esther McVey (Tatton) and Mike Amesbury (Weaver Vale) for their persistence in keeping the proposals before Parliament and the public and in bringing them to the attention of the Secretary of State.

He says, 'my view is that we have done our job now in getting (the proposals) passed over to the proper authorities. We will continue to work in partnership with them and keep local stakeholders informed of further developments.'

That last sentence is important. Arguably the campaign could be said to have done its job when we published and widely distributed the business case for the re-opening a few years ago.

In fact we could be said to have done our job when the second of our feasibility studies was published in 2009, showing beyond any doubt that the re-opening was  an eminently practical proposition with a cost:benefit ratio of an astonishing 1:5 (this fact alone, by the way, should, in the opinion of many in the rail industry, have ensured that the proposals were given serious consideration).

But as we all know, there can be no resting on laurels  when you're pushing for something as vitally important to the local area as this scheme.

The campaign can only really end when the first train runs, and I'm sure that day can't be too far off now. 

For a while now I've been telling anyone who was prepared to listen (and many others besides) that the re-opening of this line to passengers and the building of the two new stations is a matter of 'when' rather than 'if'.

My congratulations to Stephen and Samantha and to all the many people who are working hard to bring this much needed service back to Mid-Cheshire.

Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts is the Hon. President of the Mid-Cheshire Rail Link Campaign.




LINKS:

MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN (FACEBOOK)

THE MID-CHESHIRE RAIL LINK CAMPAIGN 1992-2015

RAIL MAGAZINE

PAUL STEPHENS (EMAIL LINK)
(Paul is RAIL Magazine's Assistant Features Editor)





Friday, 26 January 2018

MUSIC IN MIDDLEWICH: NARROWBOAT MUSIC NIGHT, 2nd FEBRUARY


The Narrowboat Inn writes:

On Friday 2nd February The Narrowboat presents our first live music night of 2018, and it's going to be big!

Featuring three local acts, we aim to raise as much as we can for a local Cancer Research UK funding drive. 

The evening is hosted by the fantastic Jake Roberts and we are showcasing not only his talents, but also the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Lydia Bradbury and the power vocals of acoustic duo Resonic.

Great music šŸŽ»Drinks promotions šŸ·Bucket of Beck's - 5 bottles £10, Bucket of Bulmer's - 4 bottles £10, or a pitcher of one of four cocktails for - you guessed it - £10!

A warm welcome awaits one and all at The Narrowboat, Middlewich!

9pm start, until late...









Wednesday, 24 January 2018

NOW and THEN:REID'S BAKERY 1987, 2012 and 2016

by Dave Roberts
Another of Carole Hughes' collection of photos of Middlewich shops twenty-five years ago, taken by her friend Diane Parr.
We've been thinking about publishing this one for a while, and our theme was going to be something along the lines of: 'here are two businesses which are still going strong twenty-five years on'.
However, another one of those shock developments which seem to be a feature of the Middlewich shopping scene these days has put a whole new complexion on this now vintage scene.
Ironically, on Saturday 30th June, on the very day that the Artisan Market hit town, bringing hopes of a revitalisation of Wheelock Street as a shopping area, Mike Jennings was passing Reid's shop and took this photograph:

Reid's shop on Saturday 30th June 2012
A different colour scheme, and a very different sign over the shop (In fact I've a very strong feeling that there were a few variations on that sign between 1987 and 2012. The small inset window bearing the exotic wording PATISSERIE, however, remained the same.

But what really caught Mike's eye was this notice in the shop's window:




Yet another blow to the Middlewich shopping scene.
There's nothing to be said really.
All we can do is thank Reid's for serving the town so well for all those years and leave you with a few more of Mike's images of yet another piece of old  Middlewich we've had to say  farewell to...




Another Middlewich landmark bites the dust.  I wonder who had the last steak pie?
 My Cousin Albert worked there making those steak pies for over 40 years. I must catch up with him to see what his recollections are, and maybe ask him for the recipe? - Mike Jennings






Facebook Feedback:
Sharon Barnard I can't believe it. My brother worked there for years. I worked there myself in 1986-1987. Gutted!

Ruth Duck Oh, that's such a shame. They had lovely stuff for sale. The rhubarb slices were divine.

Wendy Sproston And their Bavarian slices!

NOTE: In August 2012 it was announced that the shop would be re-opening under new management as a gluten free bakery.

SEE ALSO: THE FOODAMENTALISTS


Photo: Bill Armsden

The PATISSERIE sign finally disappears, but we've a strong feeling it may still be there, hidden by the HOME-POTTERY-GIFTS sign



First published 5th July 2012 as 'Now & Then: Reid's Bakery 1987 and 2012'
Revised, re-titled and re-published 24th January 2018

Thursday, 18 January 2018

THE ROYAL OAK - THE TRUTH REVEALED!


Photo: Maureen Condra

This Diary entry is a follow up to: THE ROYAL OAK, circa 1900
                                                        LAST REMNANTS OF THE ROYAL OAK circa 2012

UPDATED 9th APRIL 2015 (PLEASE SCROLL DOWN THE PAGE)

The last piece in the jigsaw, as supplied by Malcolm Hough, finally vindicates Trevor Williams in his assertion that the still extant wall behind the site of Niddrie's former bus garage was, indeed, part of the Royal Oak - Ed.

by Dave Roberts

Our convoluted theories about the Royal Oak in Lewin Street (see previous Diary entries - links above) came down, in the end, to a simple truth - that The Royal Oak ended its days not as a public house, but as a private house, sandwiched in between the White Horse and, at first that three storeyed house with the steep steps and, later, Niddries new building.
The red herring, and the thing that threw all our calculations out, was Trevor Williams' assertion that one of the walls of the former pub still existed at the rear of the old Niddries site. There was no way we could make the 'footprint' of the pub fit where it was supposed to if we placed one of the walls of the pub so far back and so far to the left of the site.
In one of our earlier entries mention was made of Maureen Condra, nee Hitchen, who now lives in America and is an avid reader of the Middlewich Diary. 
Maureen sent us the above photograph a couple of years ago, explaining that it showed her former home at 40 Lewin Street.
Obviously Maureen's family home and the erstwhile Royal Oak are one and the same building. It had obviously ceased to be a pub and been converted into a private house many years before.
So that is the reason no one could remember a Lewin Street pub being demolished in the 1950s.

Maureen writes:

We occupied the whole house. The right hand side with the single chimney was where my bedroom was. My brother Jimmy and sister Margaret were born there, as was my daughter Leona, with the assistance of Dr Brown and Nurse Benger*. I remember it as if it was yesterday. And, yes, the new building on the left was being built by Niddries. I left in 1958 and came back for a visit in 1960 and my family were living in George VI Avenue. The photograph was taken while the pavement was being repaired.


* One of the town's well-known and well-respected District Nurses. Geraldine Williams says she remembers Nurse Benger, along with others including Nurse Adamson.


So Malcolm Hough and Trevor Williams were obviously quite right when they said that the building was demolished at the same time as Niddries was built, but it was many years after it had ceased to be a pub.


I wonder if the thorny problem of the remains behind the site of Niddries garage can be solved with a little lateral thinking? Are those remains perhaps part of a retaining wall at the rear of the pub's yard, or maybe the last remnants of an outhouse of some kind? The pub's yard may have extended behind those adjacent buildings.

UPDATE: 9th APRIL 2015

Actually Malcolm Hough and Trevor Williams have the final word on this  Royal Oak enigma, with virtually no lateral thinking needed.


Malcolm writes:



Hi Dave,

 I have only just read your edited article on the Royal Oak. I like it very much. Nice to see other people interested. Trevor Williams may have been right about the remnants of the pub though. Take a look at the attached image. It shows the footprint of the pub on the 1909 O.S. map, it is the reversed [Z] shape [yellow]. The left-hand side does go back a fair way. It looked a large building in those days.
 The White Horse [blue]; looks like there were three buildings there in those days. Maybe that’s how the car-park came about, after the demolition of the first two buildings or part of. 
 Regards
Malc


Photocapture: Malcolm Hough
So we can consider Trevor Williams vindicated!

As for the Royal Oak and the White Horse being immediately adjacent to one another, as we've explained before, this was by no means unusual at one time. Malcolm Hough has kindly sent us a list of pubs and beer houses in the town in 1860 and we can see that the two establishments did indeed flourish side by side.

As time went on, however, it may well have been that there was not enough trade for both pubs, and this could explain why the Royal Oak became a private house, leaving the White Horse to cater for all the local drinkers.

Many thanks to everyone who has enthusiastically joined us in solving another little Middlewich mystery!
  • HOTELS, INNS, TAVERNS & LICENSEES IN MIDDLEWICH 1860
BLACK BEAR: MARY DEAN. PEPPER ST
BRASS HEAD: THOMAS WARBURTON. KINDERTON ST
BULL’S HEAD: SAMUEL BURGESS. KINDERTON ST
CARBINEER: SARAH BAILEY. HIGH TOWN
CHESHIRE CHEESE: JOHN WALTON. NEWTON
GOLDEN LION: SAMUEL PERCIVAL. NEWTON
GRAPES: GILBERT EGERTON. LEWIN ST
HORSE & JOCKEY: JOHN MAULKIN LOWER ST
KING’S ARMS: FRANCIS EARL. HIGH TOWN
NAVIGATION: JAMES OAKS. KINDERTON ST
RED COW: ROBERT MILLS. WHEELOCK ST
RED LION: WILLIAM WOODWARD. NEWTON
ROSE & CROWN: JAMES ELLISON. LEWIN ST
ROYAL OAK: JOHN LUNT. LEWIN ST
SPREAD EAGLE: FRED WHITTAKER. HIGH TOWN
TALBOT: CATHERINE BOLSHAW. KINDERTON ST
WHEAT SHEAF: JOHN LEECH. LOWER ST
WHITE BEAR: THOMAS BARRATT. WHEELOCK ST
WHITE HORSE: JOHN HOLFORD. LEWIN ST
WHITE LION: WILLIAM EGERTON. WHEELOCK ST
BEER HOUSES
NEWTON BREWERY: WILLIAM BRAITHWAITE. WEBB’S LANE
PLOUGH: FRED DALE. LEADSMITHY ST
ROBIN HOOD: JOHN HURST. NEWTON
KINDERTON ARMS: EDWARD LOWE. BOOTH LANE
JUNCTION: WILLIAM SIMON OAKS. BROOKS LANE
KINGS LOCK: WILLIAM OAKS. NEWTON
LORD HOOD: NO RECORD. PEPPER ST


PAUL FRY & RING ‘O’ BELLS WERE CLOSED PREVIOUS TO 1860

First published 19th January 2015

Re-published (with amendments) 9th April 2015)
Re-published 18th January 2018

LAST REMNANTS OF THE ROYAL OAK circa 2012



Photo supplied by Malcolm Hough

Following on from Malcolm Hough's early 20th century photograph of Lewin Street showing the long-lost Royal Oak public house, here's a modern snapshot, taken from Google Streetview, which shows the last remnants of the pub, demolished in the 1950s (?), which are to be found at the rear of the site of Niddrie's bus garage, next to the famous toyshop which itself bit the dust in 2012. The last remains of the pub, according to Malcolm, who had the information from local resident Trevor Williams, are the walls in the middle of this shot, underneath the modern wooden fence. To the right is the left-hand wall of the toyshop, complete with security camera and signs warning that the premises were under 24 hour surveillance - a testament to the vandalism and crime which plagued the business in its final days.

And now we seem to have another mystery on our hands. We recommend that this Diary entry is read in conjunction with the earlier one showing the Royal Oak,
Here are a couple of photographs of Niddrie's shop taken during its closing down sale in 2011:

Photos: Peter Cox

And here is the title from an earlier Diary entry about Niddrie's, called The Beginning Of the End


Photo: Salt Town Productions


It is evident from these photos that Niddrie's actually consisted of two parts - an old part and a new part, the left hand side being older than the right hand , which, presumably, was the portion of the premises built in the 1950s.  Beyond the old part of the building (out of shot to the left in the third photo) was the bus garage, the site of which is shown in our top photo.
If the walls behind that garage were those of the Royal Oak, how do we fit that building into the space where Niddrie's was, and what was the 'old' part before it became part of Niddries? Was it part of the Royal Oak? Or was it built separately? Or was that the part built in the 1950s, to be followed later by an even 'newer' part?
And where was the three storey house with the steep steps? Did that become part of Niddries in the 1950s? Or was it  originally part of the Royal Oak? Malcolm Hough and Trevor Williams are of the opinion that the Royal Oak was demolished 'in the 1950s when Niddrie's was built'. Did part of it survive?
How do we account for the whole space between the still extant houses, and the White Horse?


To make the problem clearer here, again from Google Earth, is the entire site as it was in 2011 during Niddrie's closing down sale. As can be seen from Malcolm's early 20th Century picture, the Royal Oak was very close to the White Horse, which can be seen on the right, with, at most, a small alleyway between the two. If the wall underneath the modern wooden fence in this picture formed part of the Royal Oak it must have been a truly enormous building. 

Surely the truth must be that the Royal Oak disappeared long before the 1950s. Geraldine Williams and her husband certainly seem to think so, as evidenced by this comment;

My husband and I have been comparing notes. We both remember the house with the steep steps (and John Maddock, Bill) which we think was in the space to the left of The White Horse and was sideways on to the road. Neither of us remember any pub-like building and think it must have been demolished long before the 1950s.
- Geraldine Williams


Whatever the truth of the matter, the site is in a sorry mess these days, after Niddries was rather unexpectedly demolished when it was, apparently, on the verge of becoming a plumbers shop.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for your patience.  We appreciate that the whole Middlewich Diary Royal Oak saga is highly confusing, in the good old traditional Middlewich Diary style. Here's the final chapter in the saga in which, we hope, all is revealed:




The last remains of Niddries shop in Lewin Street, January 2015


In 2015 one last reminder of Niddrie's remains on the site in the form of this advertisement for Philip's luxury car business.

SEE ALSO: NIDDRIES - THE BEGINNING OF THE END
                     GOING, GOING...
                     THE END OF AN ERA
                     ROYAL OAK - THE TRUTH REVEALED

FIrst published 17th January 2015
Re-published 18th January 2018

Monday, 15 January 2018

GO LOCAL MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2018


A real asset to our town is GO LOCAL, the magazine which is distributed eight times a year to over 6000 homes and businesses in Middlewich.

And now, if you're unlucky enough to live outside the magazine's circulation area, or have simply mislaid your copy, you can view the electronic version online by clicking here.

The magazine includes features of interest to everyone living in our town.

This month in MIDDLEWICH'S HERITAGE Julie Elizabeth Smalley is looking at the roads and pathways which radiate out from St Michael & All Angels church in the town centre, and have done since medieval times. The enigmatic name Leadsmithy Street becomes an obvious choice if you study the town's history. Lewin Street is a little more problematical. The answers are all in Julie's excellent article.

The DID YOU KNOW? page  never fails to provide some fascinating esoteric and off-the-wall information. This month is a Valentine Special

There are also full listings of the many and varied events taking place here month after month throughout the year in the WHAT'S ON section .

On top of this,  GO LOCAL is crammed with advertisements  which will be useful to anyone in Middlewich who wants to find a local business or service. 

There's also a READY REFERENCE section with contact details for all the vital services in the town you may need.

And for this month there a several new features including GARDENING TIPS, #MIDDLEWICH (a blog about life in Middlewich) and PCSO REPORT written by the Police Community Support officers who cover Middlewich.

And it's all delivered FREE to your letterbox!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The FEBRUARY issue is out now.


If you've had a copy of GO LOCAL through your door and never bothered to look at it, take a look now! It always repays inspection!




(includes electronic version of the magazine)