INDEX

INDEX

Saturday, 25 March 2017

WHAT'S ON GUIDE 2017


Every year the Middlewich Town Council produces its guide to the many and varied events happening in the town throughout the year.

The 2017 guide is out now and is being distributed door to door. 

Copies are also available from the Town Hall and from shops and other venues around the town.

Find out more about EVERYTHING happening in Middlewich this year. Pick up YOUR copy NOW!








Wednesday, 22 March 2017

NOW & THEN: CHALLINOR'S/GIBBINS' NEWSAGENTS


Whenever this celebrated newsagents shop crops up in the Middlewich Diary we always seem to express surprise that it still exists. But it does - largely due, we suspect, to the existence of the flats associated with it and accessed from the rear.
We've discussed the shop in previous entries, notably, of course, in this one in which we first saw that fascinating 1948 shot.




 Now, for the first time, we can make a direct comparison between the shop as it was in Challinor's day and as it is now.
The most obvious difference, of course, is the loss of the tiny cottage tacked onto the left hand side of the shop. Before everything was covered with  white rendering it was possible to see signs of the building's truncation in the bricks on the left hand side. This is clearly visible in the photo in this entry.


On the right hand side, one of the shop windows has  gone; bricked up and with just a small window in its place for ventilation.
As if to make up for this, there's an additional upstairs window where the shop sign once was. This is a fairly new addition, possibly installed to provide more light for one of the upstairs flats.
The low building to the left of the shop has gone, to be replaced by Lex House, once home of Doctors* and Solicitors. Note that there is still a chimney sticking up above the roof of that building, presumably in connection with some modern central heating equipment.
It's interesting to note that there is still Victorian style scrolled decoration on either side of the shop, but close inspection reveals that it is different in each photograph; the 2012 version seems to be longer and slightly more elaborate than its 1948 counterpart.
As mentioned in previous entries, this shop was once the premises of J&M Print, after that firm moved from the basement of the Civic Hall, but, as far as we know, the  'shop' part of the premises is unused at present.

* In 2017 the doctors, at least, were back and  occupying  the whole building

UPDATE: 22nd March 2017:

And that was the way things were up until 2012. The problem, of course, with 'Now & Then' features is that 'Now' is a moveable feast. Fortunately, working on the internet enable us to update these diary entries with relative ease, and we're able to show you how things  have changed over the last five years.


Here's our updated photo of the area, taken on the 22nd March 2017:



And straightaway we can see that the old shop premises, now occupied by Peter Forshaw Funeral Services, have been altered yet again to suit their new role. To the left 'Lex House' has become the Water's Edge Doctors' Surgery, and to the right, where the old Infants' School, the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel and the Wych House Lane Salt Works and its attendant workshops once were, is the Salinae Centre, set in its own gardens.

First published 21st March 2012.
Revised and update 22nd March 2017

Friday, 10 March 2017

ICI MIDDLEWICH OFFICE STAFF 1930s

ICI staff in the 1930s.
(l to r) Mr Brotherton, Mr Wrench, Unknown, Frank Smith, Bill Wakefield, Unknown, Unknown, Unknown.




Mike Jennings has unearthed another photo from his classic collection, and we're looking at some of the workers on the administrative side of the ICI Alkali Works in Brooks Lane in the 1930s.

We hesitate to call them 'office staff', although they're standing outside the company's offices, as they were far more than that. 

Many of them were self-taught engineers and scientists who, to employ a well-worn cliche, were 'not afraid to get their hands dirty' in making sure the operation ran smoothly.

Among them is Frank Smith who, in later life, was one of the founding members of the Middlewich Heritage Society and wrote many articles on the subject of Middlewich and its industries.

We've been delighted to be able to make use of some of Frank's work in the Middlewich Diary. For example his evocative 1920s Christmas story A Middlewich Christmas Tale.
Frank also made posthumous contributions to our diary entries on

He was also a member of the works rugby team, as can be seen here.

We'd like some information about the other people shown in Mike's photo and, of course, to fill in the names of all the 'unknowns'. Can you help us put names to faces?


...and here's the office building they're all standing outside, as it was in its final days in 1973. The building stood on what is now a lawned area in front of the current Pochin building. Shortly after this picture was taken the old offices were demolished, the new ones already having been built behind it. The ornate railings which enclosed the  meagre front garden had long gone - probably taken for the war effort, like the railings around the parish church. Interestingly, though, part of the ornate 'pagoda' style railings can be seen reflected in the window in our main photo. A small remnant of these railings survives next to the Bare Bones Marketing building around the corner, which is itself a remnant of the former ICI works.

The ICI Alkali Works, Middlewich. The King's Lock pub is just out of shot to the left.
 Bill Armsden/John Bailey

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

NOW & THEN: SEDDON'S BROOKS LANE WORKS 1969 and 2017




by Dave Roberts

We were very taken with the Middlewich Heritage Trust's new logo, illustrating as it does the 'Wych & Water' aspects of Middlewich's history, by showing a stylised representation of Seddon's Salt Works in Brooks Lane with an equally stylised canal boat  floating sedately by. In actual fact the boat appears to be floating sedately along Brooks Lane itself, but we'll have to put that down to artistic license. What's very striking about the logo is the colours used, which reflect those used by Seddon's Works right up until their closure in 1967.The large brine holding tanks which were a feature of all three works in Pepper Street, Wych House Lane and Brooks Lane were painted in red lead and signwritten with the words SEDDON'S SALT WORKS (or simply, when space was limited SEDDON'S) in white with black shading.

This encouraged us to  take another  look at our own photo of the Brooks Lane Works, taken on Kodachrome film in 1969 using the then popular Kodak Instamatic camera. The works themselves had closed two years earlier in 1967 but remained remarkably intact, demolition only beginning in earnest in the early 1970s. You can read a detailed description of this photo here. Take particular note of the feedback this photo generated.
Brooks Lane, 7th March 2017

...and this in turn, encouraged us to return to Brooks Lane to see what the scene looks like in 2017. It's still possible to tell that this was once an open pan salt works, as several sections of the original retaining wall along Brooks Lane remain, although the lane itself has been widened (this happened in the early 1970s as part of a deal with ERF Ltd who opened their Service Centre further up the road in 1971 and needed better access for deliveries and trucks travelling to and from the ERF repair shop on the site). Most of the site has now become home to Tarmac Readycrete and presents a rather dismal face to the world these days. The old salt works, while no oil painting, did have a sort of gloomy utilitarian grandeur to it, which the hotch-potch collection of concrete making apparatus and modern industrial buildings lacks. There are ambitious plans to transform the whole area surrounding Brooks Lane into a housing estate and marina development which will change things beyond recognition, if it ever comes to pass. It's worth remembering that the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway line is just a few yards away on the other side of these industrial buildings and the site suggested - 'suggested' being the operative word - for our new railway station is just out of shot to the left. If the new development does happen as planned, and the new station is indeed situated here, local residents will be ideally situated for travel to Manchester and Crewe. But isn't that a lot of 'ifs'?

Note: Murgatroyd's brine pumps, which are currently undergoing preservation are just at the top of the hill, behind the gym and tankwash buildings.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

OUR MASTHEAD FOR FEBRUARY 2017

Our February 2017 Masthead (also used in October 2016)


Our masthead photo for February 2017 (also used in October 2016) features a foggy day in Middlewich captured by Bill Armsden. Bill says that, as far as he remembers, the photo was taken in the winter of 2015.
It's something of a mystery photo as, at first glance, it appears to be a rural scene, perhaps taken on the outskirts of the town on the Shropshire Union heading towards Minshull Vernon? Or maybe on the T&M somewhere near Whatcroft?*
In fact we're looking at a scene which is very urban indeed. This is King's Lock in Booth Lane. Out of shot to the left is the pub which takes its name from the lock - one clue to its nearby presence is those picnic tables which, during the summer, are thronged with people enjoying a drink in the open air. 
Out of shot to the right, on the other side of Booth Lane, is that justly famous Middlewich institution,Etta Mault's chipshop.
And lurking in the mist behind the bush, left of centre, are the utilitarian industrial buildings which were once part of the ERF Service Centre, built on part of the old ICI Alkali Works. 
Perhaps the only real clue as to the true location of Bill's photo is the HGV tractor unit on the right trundling through the fog on its way to Sandbach or the M6 motorway.
They say that every picture tells a story. But the story is not always what you might think it is...

* This would, of course, be impossible. There are no locks on the Trent & Mersey between Middlewich and Preston Brook.

Friday, 3 March 2017

MIDDLEWICH OSCARS 2017 (ARCHIVED)

ARCHIVED



DIRECT WEBSITE LINK:


2017 Winners:
Business of the Year: Cups & Cakes
Volunteer of the Year: Stephen Dent
Senior Citizen of the Year: Sheila Cawley
Young Person of the Year: Jake Humphreys
Music, Arts & Culture Award: Phil Latham & Ian Hill-Smith
Young People's Champion: Jackie Latham
Community Service Award: Geoff Williams
Local Hero Award: Wendy Lomas
Excellence in Education Award: Amy Boon
Quality of Service Award: Aiden Devaney Butchers
Heritage and Respect Award: Geoff & Salli Page
Town Mayor's Special Award: David & Yvonne Moore




First published January 9th 2017
Re-published February 1st 2017
February 3rd 2017
March 3rd 2017
March 7th 2017