Monday, 18 August 2014



Photo: Middlewich Music Festival

There's already a lot of enthusiasm for this new Middlewich Music initiative, and we're happy to lend our support to it.
Since 1990 our town has gained a good reputation for folk music and its associated activities, but this kind of music is, it goes without saying, not everyone's cup of tea (including, we can assure you, several members of the original Folk & Boat Festival Committee!).
The Middlewich Music Festival aims to feature local bands who may not fit into the existing MFAB formula and, presumably, those from further afield as the idea finds its feet.
The exact format for the new Festival has yet to be thrashed out, and this will be done at the inaugural meeting which takes place at the White Bear in Middlewich on Wednesday 30th July starting at 7pm.
These are early days for the Middlewich Music Festival and the organisers would like to hear from anyone who'd like to be a part of the event, either as performers or on the organisation/administration side of things.
If you're interested email us on and we'll put you in touch with the team. And/or you can go along to the White Bear on Wednesday at 7!

UPDATE: (12th AUGUST 2014): After much discussion both at the inaugural meeting and later, it was decided that the first Festival would take place in the Summer of 2015 and that smaller events would be held in the meantime to build up the new festival's public profile
The first of these events was announced for the 20th September 2014
from 2pm until 11pm
The best of new music

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Aerial View: Britain From Above/English Heritage
 by Dave Roberts,

Today we're returning to our 'core business' to indulge in what was recently and very memorably, referred to as '...the regurgitating of random, boring, local facts' as we take a look at one of the aerial photographs of our town now made available by English Heritage on the site
The 'Britain From Above' collection contains hundreds of high definition photographs taken between the years 1919 and 1953 and thus, in the case of Middlewich, giving us an invaluable view of our town in its salt town heyday.
What's more the site is asking everyone to help annotate the photos in the collection so that future generations will be able to identify just what it is they're looking at and enjoy them all the more. If we've missed anything out of our interpretation of this, or any of the photos we'll be featuring in this series, please let us know.
Our own notes on the photo above are appended to the version below, and we would as always be pleased to have any additional information and/or corrections.

We're starting with this excellent view of the area around the still-thriving Big Lock pub (and, of course, the lock it is named for) as it was (we estimate) some time in the early 1920s. We've given the open pan works in the top left hand corner of the picture its original name on opening in 1892, but by the time of this photograph it would be under different ownership and partly disused, as was the custom during the open pan era, when pans were opened and closed as demand for salt fluctuated.
There's an intriguing structure on the far bank of the river (right next to the little blue aeroplane). We're wondering if this has any connection with attempts to screen the salt works from the Upper Crust at Croxton Hall Farm, as mentioned here (with diagram) by Frank Smith.
The building we've circled and called a 'salt warehouse'  survived well into the early 1970s, finding various industrial uses, as discussed here. On the other side of the Trent & Mersey Canal lies the River Dane and the spot where the River Croco, running alongside the canal through the town, joins it, can also be seen.
The top right hand corner of the photo shows us Harbutt's Field, long known for its connections with the Romans and long marked on maps as Roman Station (Condate). It would be the 1980s before the fact that this modest and unassuming field had, in fact, been the  site of a fully-fledged permanent Roman military fort was confirmed by modern geophysical techniques. We are, though, dealing with the world of archaeology here, and not all is sweetness and light as the name 'Condate' for Middlewich is still disputed among academics, as, for that matter is 'Salinae'.
On the right a public footpath ran, and still runs, from bridges over the canal and River Croco to join King Street at the top right hand corner of the field. The land on the other side of this footpath, now given over to housing, was studded with brine shafts and the remains of previous salt workings.
On the opposite side of the canal from the Big Lock is the old lock-keeper's cottage, perched precariously between canal and river and  threatening  always  to subside backwards into the Croco. We discussed the sad fate of this building here.
Every year, come festival time, bands perform on the patch of ground where the cottage once stood (with the audience, somewhat unusually, standing on the other side of the lock), a use for the area which those lock-keepers of old could never have foreseen in their wildest dreams.
Taking centre stage is the impressive bulk of the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Factory (later part of Nestle, and later still a silk and man-made fibre factory).
It goes without saying that this little corner of Middlewich has, like many others, now been covered in modern housing.
In the bottom right hand corner, along Webb's Lane, is 'Swiss Cottage', which gets its name from the fact that it was built to house the Manager of the Anglo-Swiss works.
The Milk Factory closed in 1931 and the buildings were converted for use as a silk factory which opened in 1932 and closed in the early years of the 21st Century.
Finney's Lane itself is all present and correct, although its course has changed through the years and it now takes a more direct route towards the Big Lock, where it joins Webbs Lane. 

Aerial View: Britain From Above/English Heritage
Swiss Cottage, Webbs Lane as it is today


Thursday, 7 August 2014


Here is a link to a BBC Radio 1 documentary, first broadcast on the 4th August 2014 on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War and featuring the voices of those who have served in the British Army in Afghanistan together with archive recordings of veterans from the Great War.
The aim of the documentary is to show what aspects of war have changed over the years and what remains the same.
One of the voices heard is that of Pte Luke Hardy of Middlewich who did three tours of duty in Afghanistan, telling us just what it was like to serve as a member of the 3rd Parachute Regiment in the recent conflict. .


This link also appears on our MIDDLEWICH AND THE GREAT WAR site

Since returning from Afghanistan Luke has started training to be a paramedic. He also works hard on behalf of HELP FOR HEROES.

100 YEARS ON...

Photos by Cliff Astles

On the 4th August 2014 at 2pm the people of Middlewich came together in the town centre for a short service to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War and to remember the fallen.
Among those in attendance, along with members of the public,  were the Mayor and Mayoress of Middlewich, representatives of the Royal British Legion and Town Crier Devlin Hobson who read his own poem about the War.
Middlewich's War Memorial was erected in 1934 by public subscription and originally placed at the junction of Lower Street and Hightown where once stood Butcher Lees shop (later to be converted into a bank) and the large gas lamp where our  Town Crier  of the time would have stood to announce the outbreak of war on the 4th August 1914.
Middlewich Town Centre  in the years leading up to 1914. (Courtesy of Kath & Barry Walklate)

The verse:

Through all eternity their names shall bide,
Enshrined as Heroes who for Empire died.

was written by Charles Frederick Lawrence, former Clerk to the Middlewich UDC and local historian.
With the demolition of the properties on Hightown in the early 1970s and the building of 'the piazza', the Memorial was moved a few yards further toward the Parish Church, and retained that position to within a few yards when the current 'amphitheatre' was built. Thus it has only been moved a short distance in the 80 years of its existence.

The original dedication of Middlewich's War Memorial by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire and the Bishop of Chester, November 18th 1934. PHOTO: PAUL HOUGH COLLECTION
Crowds watching the procession in Wheelock Street  on 18th November 1934 . Note the White Bear sign on the extreme right PHOTO: PAUL HOUGH COLLECTION

Town Crier Devlin Hobson was on hand to mark the occasion by reading his own poem, which is reproduced below with his permission.
Devlin Hobson

Remembering the fallen
Cllr Paul Edwards, Mayor of Middlewich, lays a wreath on behalf of the Town Council and the people of Middlewich

Wreath Laying

Photo added 7th August 2016

Many thanks to   CLIFF ASTLES
                              DEVLIN HOBSON
                              MIDDLEWICH TOWN COUNCIL
                              MIDDLEWICH ROYAL BRITISH LEGION
                              GERALDINE WILLIAMS

This Diary entry also appears on our

Monday, 4 August 2014


Today, August 4th 2014 at 2pm, there will be a short service of Remembrance to mark the day exactly 100 years ago when Britain became involved in the Great War.
Town Crier Devlin Hobson will be there to read a special proclamation marking the occasion.

This Diary entry also appears on our sister site