Monday, 26 February 2018


Chris Jones writes...

Hi Dave, I'm after some help researching my family tree and was wondering if the diary could help? I'm after tracing my maternal grandfather's family that I know nothing about.

He was George Moses born 17/09/1909 in Wheelock.

He lived on Booth Lane when he was young and St Ann's Road when married and he had two brothers and a sister, Ernest Moses, Phyllis Regan(Moses) and A Leach- maybe he was a half  brother?

I believe that their parents may have divorced. That's pretty much all I know.

Thanks in advance.


If you can help please contact us here at THE MIDDLEWICH DIARY and we'll put you in touch with Chris.

The Middlewich Diary
29 Queen Street
CW10 9AR

Tel: 01606 833404
Mob/text 07808 063921


Dave Roberts



Dave Costello I worked with George in the old Winsford Co op days. A very quiet man who always considered his answer before replying to a question. A true Gentleman. I believe he spent several years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the 2nd world war. He had a daughter, Christine.(26.2.18)


Photo: Stafford Railwayana Auctions
by Dave Roberts

What price a little bit of Middlewich railway history? 

This token for the single-line section of railway between Middlewich and Northwich was sold at auction in Stafford in May 2016. 

What was it for?

Put simply, it enabled a train to run from Middlewich to Northwich without any possibility of meeting a train coming the other way. 
The token would be handed to the signalman at Northwich. If the next train on the line was running from Northwich to Middlewich, the driver would obtain a token at Northwich to be handed over at Middlewich. If, however, the next train was running in the same direction - Middlewich to Northwich - another M-N token would be issued.

 The tokens were locked into machines at Middlewich and Northwich (Sandbach Junction) signal-boxes, and the machines connected together (or 'interlocked') to ensure that if a token was being taken out at Middlewich, the ones at Northwich were locked in so that none could be removed, and vice versa.

The system also, of course, ensured that only one token at a time could be issued. So it was basically a case of 'no token, no journey'.

In practice the tokens were carried in pouches, attached to large  hoops, to enable drivers and signalmen to easily exchange tokens.

The link below contains a picture showing the Northwich-Middlewich token being handed over at Middlewich signal box.

A token machine. Photo: Railsigns
This photo, shows signalman David 'Jock' Myles talking to the driver of no. 41229 at Middlewich. Through the open door of the signalbox, right, can be seen the token apparatus and some of the pouches and hoops used to carry the tokens.

More on this photo here:

There were (and in some places still are) several different systems, involving tokens, key tokens, tablets, staffs etc.

The illustration above shows the closest machine I could find to the type I remember being in Middlewich signal box fifty or so years ago, and the tokens do resemble the Middlewich-Northwich one in our main picture.

However, it's possible that this machine is of a different type to the ones used on the Middlewich line. 

My purpose is just to show the general principle.

Middlewich signal box and closed station in 1963. The signal box was opened in 1892 and closed in 1980. Photo: H B Priestley
So what price this Middlewich-Northwich token of railway days past?

We know it's from British Rail (or British Railways) days and we know it can't have been used after 1980, as that's when the signal box closed and new colour light signals (themselves since replaced) were installed. 

What would you pay? 

Well, when this lot was auctioned at Stafford on the 28th May 2016, it went for £150

Sunday, 25 February 2018


Although the annual Middlewich FAB Festival has come and gone for another year, we're still collecting memories and reminiscences from 28 years of this pivotal Middlewich event.

The FAB 26 Guide 2016

If you'd like to contribute:

 See our Facebook Group

 You also can ring us on 01606 833404
                 and text us on 07808 063921

You can also write to us at:

The Middlewich Diary
29 Queen Street
CW10 9AR

First published 23/6/2015
Updated/Re-published 20/6/2016, 25/2/2018


Postponed from

MONDAY 26th February


Saturday, 24 February 2018


Here's an evocative bit of Middlewich ephemera. 'Number 28' on Hightown has in recent years  become so firmly established as a 'drop-in' centre run by the nearby St Michael & All Angels church - in effect serving many of the purposes of a church hall combined with a community facility - that it comes as a bit of a shock to realise that the building has had many previous lives since  its beginnings as one of  a plethora of Co-op shops established  in the town in the early part of the 20th century. 
Many will remember it as the second premises of Harold Woodbine Ltd, the first premises, not too far away in Lower Street, having been demolished in the early 1970s to allow St Michael's Way to be built. The original shop was approximately where the taxi rank opposite the Bull Ring bus stop now is. Even when the retail shop at No. 28 closed, Woodbine's electrical contracting business continued to occupy the rear of the premises. The business has now moved to Sandbach.
And for a short period starting in the mid-to-late 1990s the shop was part of the video lending boom, as can be seen from this membership card.
The fact that the shop's telephone number has a '1' in it shows us that the card must have been issued after the 16th of April 1995 (prior to that date all Middlewich numbers began 0606 83) but that doesn't, of course,  preclude the shop being open before that date.

In the 1980s and 1990s video, and later DVD, hire was popular in Middlewich,as elsewhere.
The huge, clunky VHS cassettes were invented in the early 1970s and and lasted until 2008 when DVDs, which started to become available around 1995, finally'overtook them in popularity.

VHS videos have vanished so completely from most people's lives that its probably necessary to remind everyone what they actually looked like.

The remaining lifespan of Apollo Home Entertainment almost exactly paralleled that of the VHS cassette.
The company, which was based in Sussex and  had branches all over the country, soldiered on, closing many branches each year, until the 30th of August 2016 when it was wound up. This was just a month after the very last VHS equipment was made. 

But can anyone tell us the year that the Middlewich branch closed?

Nowadays, of course, even the DVD has fallen from grace as the downloading and streaming of movies and TV programmes from the internet grows in popularity.

Many thank to Eleisha for permission to use her photo.

Number 28 in its current guise

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


The 'Tales of Wych & Water' CD, with reminiscences from people who worked in the Middlewich salt industry and on the waterways which served it, together with original music and song from local musicians, is available from Middlewich Heritage Trust.

'Tales of Wych & Water' was produced for Middlewich Town Council and Middlewich Vision in 2009 by Salt Town Productions.

Friday, 16 February 2018


Middlewich Town Council
Always a sure sign that the Middlewich year is well and truly underway, the Middlewich Oscars aims to recognise the many many people in the town who make a contribution. 
Community spirit is what makes any town interesting and worth living in.
And  Middlewich, whatever its critics might say, has community spirit in abundance.


First published on the 15th January 2018
Amended and re-published on the 16th February 2018

Thursday, 15 February 2018



An old friend of the Middlewich Diary, Carole Hughes, writes:

I hope you enjoy looking at these photos from Cerebos/RHM days.
I didn't work there, but my Mum, who is on the photos, did. Her name is Judith Sant.
Please feel free to tag anyone you know.

Many thanks to Carole for sharing these great photos, which all appear to date from the 1960s and 1970s.

As Carole says, please feel free to tag anyone you know (or yourself, if you're there!) on any of the Facebook groups and pages this finds its way to.

Alternatively, if you recognise any of the people in the photos, you can let us know the names by emailing us at the Middlewich Diary:

For convenience, we've numbered the photos so we'll know which one you're referring to.

Dave Roberts





Tuesday, 13 February 2018


Middlewich historian and Clerk to the Middlewich UDC Charles Frederick Lawrence was a prolific collector of poetry and verse, particularly when it pertained to the town of Middlewich.

Here, for Shrove Tuesday, is a famous poem about the pancake bell which Mr Lawrence says in the publication Bygone Middlewich (Electro Bleach Club, Scientific Section, Middlewich, 1921) only ceased to ring, along with the Curfew (or 'Curfue') Bell within his 'recollection'.

So we're probably talking about sometime in the early to mid 19th century.

The Pancake Bell was rung to remind the people of Middlewich that it was time to gather all the ingredients together to make pancakes for the great feasting before the fasting period of Lent began.


by The Rev'd Charles O'Niel Pratt, formerly Curate at Middlewich

What sound is that which greets mine ear,
As it sweeps along through the sky so clear?
Of millions of chickens it rings the knell,
For I wot it is the Pancake Bell.

Full many a farm-yard cock hath crowed,
And tender love on his wives bestowed,
But over her brood has waved the spell,
As sure as she hears the Pancake Bell.

And the housekeeper goes to the huxter's shop,
And the eggs are brought home and there's flop! flop! flop!
And there's batter and butter and savoury smell,
While merrily rings the Pancake Bell.

And with frizzle and fizz the condiment's tossed,
And dished, and dusted with sugary frost,
And the youngsters at home the fun can tell
That follows the sound of the Pancake Bell.

And into the batter will mistress fling
That mystic token, the marriage ring,
And the bosom of many a maid will swell
With hope as she hears the Pancake Bell.

For if smiles and loving looks be true,
Someone may whisper a word or two,
And when Lent is over, then Easter will tell
Its old, old story - the Wedding Bell.

Monday, 12 February 2018


 by Dave Griffiths.

When I joined the Middlewich Diary Photo Group a couple of years ago I posted these photographs of the beginning of work on the foundations for the Park Road Junior School, together with a scanned copy of the  programme for the opening of the  School in 1954, a document which was among my Mother's possessions when she died.

In the photos I can identify some names - Clive (my brother) with the glasses (and my arm stretched to his shoulder). Peter Bannaghan, Desmond Spilsbury, Norma Maddock, Joyce Coppenhall - not sure of any others. Please identify them if you can.

Regarding the Opening programme, it's interesting to note that the total cost of land, building, furniture and playing fields was the princely sum of £60,000. Happy days!

Many thanks to Dave for allowing us to share this. If you can help with any other names in the photos, please let us know either by email at

or via our Facebook Photo Page

Our main photo also appears as the cover photo on the Northwich & Mid-Cheshire Through Time Facebook Group, of which Dave is also a member.



Kerry Fletcher writes:

I need help to save the Murgatroyd's open pan works model, which is currently on display at the Weaver Hall Museum in Northwich.
This model is being taken out mid-March and  I need help with funding to be able to dismantle the model, transport it back to Middlewich and re-assemble at the Victoria Building.
I also need to be able to pay for the room hire costs, so we can do the model justice in its new home, once again welcoming visitors.
Anyone interested in helping please contact me on 01606 841379. Please share! 

January 28th 2014.

Editor' note:

If you can help, or know someone who can, please contact Kerry on the above number.
Although the latter days of open pan salt making in the town were dominated by the three Seddon's works in Pepper Street, Brooks Lane and Wych-House Lane, Murgatroyd's works, also in Brooks lane, continued operating right up until 1966 and had the distinction of remaining under the same ownership throughout its life.
Below are links to some of the information on Murgatroyd's we have in the Middlewich Diary. There will, in due course, be more to come.

Dave Roberts




(includes notes from Kerry Fletcher)




UPDATE (February 2017)

The model was brought back to the town where it, arguably, belongs but, unfortunately, nowhere has yet been found large enough to put it on permanent display. The obvious place would, of course, be somewhere on the Murgatroyd's Brine Pump site which is currently in the process of being preserved. 

UPDATE (12th February 2018):

Bill Eaton writes:

John Duncan and I helped to dismantle and bring it back to Middlewich.

MURGATROYD'S BRINE PUMPS (Middlewich Heritage Trust)

First published 11th February 2014

Updated and re-published 11th February 2017
and 12th February 2018

Saturday, 10 February 2018


Photo: Mid-Cheshire Rail Partnership/Middlewich Rail Link Campaign
Here's a link to our archived sister website for a high-speed trip on the Mid-Cheshire line from Manchester to Chester. 
The film is a beautifully produced odyssey along the line, with strategic stops every so often showing the many attraction sf Stockport, Knutsford, Northwich and Delamere Forest.
There's a brief glimpse of the Middlewich line as it joins the main line at Northwich (see picture, above). As you can see, the current layout means that trains travelling to and from Middlewich, Sandbach and Crewe can only use the track on the extreme left which runs into the third platform at Northwich Station before rejoining the main line East of the station. It's possible that when the line is re-opened the connections to and from the main up and down Manchester-Chester lines may be re-instated, to allow our trains to use any of the platforms.


First published 10th February 2013
Revised and re-published 10th February 2018

Thursday, 8 February 2018


Chris Fuchs writes:

Hello there,

I follow the Middlewich Diary with interest and liked the picture in the article from 14th Jan which shows an aerial picture of the town from 1968.

Courtesy of Elaine Carlin


I fly a drone and recently attempted to take a similar picture myself for comparison. It's a fairly large panorama at around 60MB so can be quite slow to load and zoom.   


Obviously it's rather difficult to discern anything very much from the original photo as shown above, but this is no ordinary photograph.

If you go to the link provided by Chris:

you'll see a much enlarged version, in which some familiar landmarks can be made out.

Not only that; if you click  on this symbol:
you'll be able to zoom in on the picture and see modern day Middlewich in astonishing detail, from Andersen Boats on the left, to St Michael's Church in the middle, and on to Holmes Chapel Road on the right.

These are the instructions for viewing the picture on a pc. Obviously methods will differ for other types of computer and mobile phones.

Here are a just a few of the screenshots we've been able to obtain:

The classic view of St Michael & All Angels Church. To the left of the church is the end of Queen Street, and the King Arms Hotel. St Michael's Way curves away to the right, with Pepper Street on the extreme right. In the foreground are Forshaw's Funeral Services, Lex House (Waters Edge Medical Centre) and the Wharfinger's Cottage on the Town Wharf. 

The Holmes Chapel Road railway bridge ('Station Bridge') is on the left and the railway line itself can be seen heading off towards Sandbach and Crewe. This is the suggested site for the new Middlewich Station. In the background are the ugly industrial boxes of Midpoint 18 (now re-christened 'Ma6nitude', though how it is supposed to be pronounced  is anyone's guess)

Lewin Street: Left to right - Halfpenny Court, the library and 'Katy's Corner'

Queen Street. And it's a definite case of 'I can see our house from here!' Just look to the left of that large building in the middle of the photo. That's the Middlewich United Reformed Church (formerly the Congregational Church) and our house, not to mention the Middlewich Diary's multi-million pound office complex, is next door but one. You can just see our white framed back bedroom window. Below that, the white building with the black roof is our kitchen. I knew you'd be impressed. To the right of the 'Congs' is one of the town's architectural gems, no 25 Queen Street, a listed building and described as being built 'in the early 19th century'. Across the road is Fountain Fields (now known to many as 'Tesco Park', due to the proximity of the firm's main Middlewich store (or, as Middlewich folk have it, 'Big Tesco'). Beyond the Tesco store, the  white building marks the top end of Southway and the fringe of St Ann's Road. On the extreme left of the photo, just before Queen Street gives way to King Edward Street, is the Vicarage, which we will all, sooner or later, have to learn to call the Rectory. Top left are the Victorian Beech Street and West Street.

Kinderton Street: (l to r): The Kinderton Hotel, The Boar's Head, The Factory Shop
Lewin Street and its junction with Sutton Lane, which runs away to the top of the picture, crossing the Shropshire Union Canal and heading into the distance. The surprisingly large sprawl of the British legion Club is right centre

Hough Construction HQ in Brooks Lane. The Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway runs along the top of the photo
Back to Lewin Street and the familiar sight of the Victoria Building (Now re-christened, quite rightly, 'The Town Hall')and behind it the Victoria Hall (previously the Town Hall Function Suite and, before that, the Civic Hall). To the right of Victoria Building we can just see the Post Office and the Narrowboat Inn. In the background beyond the fire station and the Wych Centre is the seemingly postage-stamp sized Market Field, looking impossibly small but nevertheless the main venue for the FAB Festival each year. Top left is the Oaklands Medical Centre, and top right is the Community Centre.

- you'll no doubt be able to see much more as you zoom in and scan the photograph.Our thanks to Chris for sending us the link to this amazing photograph.

Just imagine how valuable Chris's photo and others like it will be to people living fifty years from now who want to learn about Middlewich in 2018.

There will undoubtedly be changes to the town over that period, possibly changes much more drastic than the ones which have happened since 1967/8.

How fortunate those future historians will be to have access to superb material like this.

Dave Roberts