Monday, 12 November 2018

THE MIDDLEWICH DIARY CHRISTMAS QUIZ 2018

The 2018 Middlewich Diary Christmas Quiz will be held at the Boar's Head on Thursday 20th December. Proceedings begin at 7pm with  Christmas music to get you - cliche alert - 'in the Christmas spirit', and the Quiz itself  will follow somewhere around 8.30 pm - the traditional Boar's Head Quiz time!

The rounds for the quiz will  be:

1: CHRISTMAS IN MIDDLEWICH. 

Christmas, and the run-up to Christmas, with the annual switch-on of the town centre Christmas lights, has become one of the town's most popular  happenings -  up there with the FAB Festival and the Rose Fete. And the Middlewich Diary has chronicled what's been happening in recent years (well, some of it at least). So you'll find all the answers here in these very pages...

2: CALL MY CHRISTMAS BLUFF.

Call My Bluff, based on the long-running TV show,  has for many years been one of our most popular quiz rounds. It gives you a chance to pit your wits against Mr Roberts' ever more enfeebled brain, as he gives you three definitions of obscure words, one of which is true, and two of which he's made up, the silly bugger. And because it's Christmas, all the words this time round have a festive feel to them.

3: CHRISTMAS MUSIC

No Middlewich Diary Quiz is complete without music, and here in all its cheesy glory, is the kind of Christmas music which makes pretentious musical pillocks despair. You just know that one of the answers is going to be Fairytale Of New York, so there's one point, right there,  before we even start... And there'll be loads more Christmas music throughout the evening, whether you like it or not. Your chance to start grumbling about all the songs being 'before your time'. A lot of them are before our time too...

4: CHRISTMAS NIGHT WITH THE STARS

Recordings of famous entertainers talking, singing and joking about Christmas. Loosely based on that old-time BBC TV favourite Christmas Night With The Stars but with a few more recent stars also thrown in. And so they should be. 

5: CHRISTMAS PICTURE ROUND

Pictures of well-known people at Christmas. One of them is bound to be Father Christmas. So there's another point, completely free of charge. Don't say we never give you anything.

Entry fee £1 per player.

Teams can consist of as many people as you like, but we recommend about four.

The quizmaster's decision is final, even when he's wrong. And he usually is.

If you'd like to donate prizes for the quiz and/or for the raffle we'll also be holding on the night, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

We're after the usual quiz-type stuff; bottles of wine, boxes of chocs, all of that stuff.

You can get in touch with us through our usual Facebook Groups,  email us at

MIDDLEWICHDIARY@AOL.COM

or ring Peter Cox on 01606 834371 or 07794 1415651

Thank you for your time!

Dave Roberts

Editor.

SOUTHWAY 1987 and 2018


Southway in 1987 (photo by Diane Parr). The dirt track (with rudimentary pavement ) leads to the rear of the buildings to the left, including the Alhambra Cinema (or Bingo Hall as it was at the time the photo was taken). This area was mostly used for car parking. The original Southway (or 'Tannery Alley' to give it its time-honoured name) is the footpath to the right which leads from Wheelock Street to St Ann's Road.
Middlewich's first real supermarket, Gateway, is being built in the background.


Thirty-one years later and the scene is still recognisable, though much smartened up. Southway still runs up the right hand side of the photo, on its way to St Ann's Road but the buildings to the left have been incorporated into Wheelock Street's shopping area, with a hairdresser and florist where that rather grim looking industrial building once was. The recently refurbished and hugely successful Drinks & Bites At No 35 is on the left. The grim-looking oversized 'lamp post' is one of the town's CCTV facilities, forever looking for trouble in Wheelock Street, and the 'pagoda' in the middle distance  welcomes Wheelock Street shoppers to what has now become Tesco's 'superstore' - or, in Middlewich parlance, 'Big Tesco'. (MD Photo)

Update: Once again the changing Middlewich shopping scene renders our information out of date. From October 2018 the sign on the 'pagoda' (and the signs on the store) read 'JACK'S', a low-cost supermarket which is, we're assured, 'part of the TESCO family'.

First published 1st April 2018
Updated and re-published 12th November 2018

Thursday, 8 November 2018

MIDDLEWICH IN AUTUMN, 2018, photographed by Rebecca Page


'Of the three wiches, Middlewich is rather a hag, unredeemed, uncouth and disfavoured...'

- J.C. Walters, 'Romantic Cheshire' 1930

by Dave Roberts

Poor old Middlewich, eh? That's telling us, J.C.! 

To be fair, though, he did go on to say, '...nor is her dark visage today a discredit, for Middlewich knows the meaning of hard toil under conditions which give her little chance of any cheerful display.'

If you'd approached any Middlewichian in the 1930s and talked about 'the beauty of Middlewich', you'd have been looked at askance and met with hollow laughter.

And poor old Middlewich's dark and gloomy visage lasted for another thirty-seven years until, in 1967, its remaining open pan salt works closed.


An accident of industrial history  resulted in Middlewich being an unredeemed, uncouth and disfavoured hag for so many years. 

In most of the local salt towns the salt industry was, for various reasons, situated away from the town centre, enabling those towns to preserve at least a little bit of civic pride. 

Not so in poor old Middlewich, where the sprawling Pepper Street Works was just a matter of yards away from Wheelock Street, and the Wych House Lane Works backed onto Lewin Street.

The penny-pinching ways of the salt works owners, who only used the cheapest coal they could find to fuel their salt pans, ensured that Middlewich was a grimy old town indeed.

After a rather grim interim period in the 1970s, when it seemed that half the town was being torn down, a much more pleasant  and attractive town slowly began to emerge - the modern day Middlewich which prospective new inhabitants, putting to one side our horrendous traffic problems and lack of amenities, fall in love with.

Rebecca Page has been out and about with her camera, capturing the beauty of Middlewich in Autumn in 2018.

And no one's laughing.

The photo above shows a stretch of the Trent & Mersey canal between the Big Lock and Town Bridge. Fifty years ago this was a very industrialised stretch of waterway, with Seddon's Pepper Street works to the right, just beyond the overhanging trees in the centre of the photo - the area is now the site of 'The Moorings' - and, to the left, Middlewich's gas works, once dignified with the elaborate title of the Middlewich Gas Light & Coke Company Ltd.


Taken from underneath our utilitarian and almost brutalist early 1930s Town Bridge, the resplendent Autumn colours on the canal bank mark the spot where the gas works once stood. The River Croco runs in a culvert on the other side of the canal bank, stretching from Brooks Lane to Harbutt's Field where it joins the River Dane, and acts as an overflow for the canal.

Beyond the Big Lock and heading in the direction of Northwich we see the new housing to the left which has replaced the old Nestle Condensed Milk Factory, in more recent years British Crepe's silk works.

Beyond that, many years ago, stood the Dairy & Domestic salt works, one of many open pan works which have been dotted around the town over the years.

Opposite, and beyond  the trees to the right, is the place where the Croco meets the Dane.

The field on the extreme right is Harbutt's Field, the site of Middlewich's Roman fort.

Middlewich's swan population is thriving as never before and you'll find these magnificent creature in several locations along our waterways.

You can find out more at


...and now we're back where we started, but heading in the opposite direction, towards the Big Lock.

The Newton Brewery Inn and its large gardens are out of shot to the left, and to the right, on the other side of the canal and the River Croco, where yet more housing development has taken place in recent years, is the area we all knew in childhood days in the fifties and sixties as 'Down Bill Hewitt's'.

This was a huge area of scrubland which had, years before, been the site of yet more traditional open pan salt works.

A brine shaft, rudimentarily fenced off, could be found at the far end, close to Harbutt's Field. 

This has now been permanently capped and few will even know of its existence.


Many thanks to Rebecca Page for permission to use these photographs showing the beauty of this part of our town in Autumn 2018.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

PEPPER STREET , EARLY 1969 (2)


Once again we find ourselves in Pepper Street in 1969 with a picture which should help to make the layout of things clearer.
(The white 'flashes' to the left, by the way, are caused by damage to the original Kodachrome film, illustrating all too clearly why we need to preserve this collection wiihout delay). The houses to the left are what now makes up modern-day Pepper Street. For the first time, at the end of the row, we can see the side wall of Seddon's office building. On the right of the picture is the end of the row of cottages which have been replaced by our famous 'grass verge'. What's the building to the left of them with the tall, central chimney, just above the Robin Reliant?



This photo was first published on Facebook on 26th April 2011. 

The original Facebook feedback is below:


Geraldine Williams Oh yes! that side wall of the Seddon's offices was the perfect place to hone one's twosie, or even threesie, tennis ball skills! Not sure about the other building. Some demolition had obviously taken place where the chain-link fencing stands (and the forlorn figure sits!) so it's a bit out of context for my recollection.

Dave Roberts I've been waiting for someone to tell me it's not a Robin, but a Regal Supervan or something.
Colin Derek Appleton Is that building the pub that was called the Lord Hood ?

Geraldine Williams
Yes, according to Google.


(Editor's note: In fact subsequent research indicates that the Lord Hood actually stood on the waste ground where the Reliant car (can be seen).

Colin Derek Appleton Cool! cant take all the credit though, my dad told me the locations of all the vanished pubs when i was a boy !!

Geraldine Williams I understand that the pubs near the salt works used to open at 5.00am to enable nightshift workers to re-hydrate after working on the open pans.

Colin Derek Appleton That's very possible. My Grandfather worked on the pans in the Pepper Street works as well as working for Seddon on his fleet of boats.

First published 10th July 2011

Reformatted and re-published 3rd November 2018