Friday, 27 July 2018


ICI MIDDLEWICH WORKS in Brooks Lane. Photo courtesy of John Bailey/Bill Armsden. Reproduced with permission.
by Dave Roberts

This photograph of the ICI Works in Middlewich is dated 1962 and has been restored to near-mint condition by Bill Armsden, who writes:

This photograph, taken in 1962, is of the ICI Works which could be seen from Booth Lane and was located to the right of where the Kings Lock Pub is.

Pochins now sits where this works was.

I have cleaned up and enhanced the picture and it is now almost mint. It is hard to believe that just over 50 years ago this dominated the view from St Anns and Kitfield Avenues.

Do you remember it? I do.

Bill says that the photo has the year 1962 written on the back, and was one of many copies given out to workers at ICI Middlewich when the works closed in that year. 

This particular copy belongs to John Bailey, who now lives in Knutsford.*

I have a vague feeling that this photo may have been taken before 1962, as the buildings and apparatus on the site don't look exactly as I remember them at that time. Then again, I was only a youngster in 1962, so I may be mistaken. 

Does anyone know if this is indeed how the works looked in 1962?

Here's a different view of part of the works, courtesy of Bill Eaton

And a late 1950s view of the SUC Middlewich Branch, also from Bill Armsden's collection, which includes a glimpse of the works.

Many thanks to Bill and also to John Bailey* for allowing us to feature this historic photo.

UPDATE (4th March 2018)

From Australia, Bevan Goodall writes:

'Thanks, Dave, for making this photo available.

I left ICI Middlewich in 1960 to emigrate to Australia, so I didn't receive a copy. 

I remember working one freezing winter thirty-odd metres up the side of the distillation plant, installing some removable panels.

I had my billy-can of tea laced with rum sitting on a steam-pipe nearby.

Harry Sandbach, the foreman - a lovely guy - was in the habit of helping himself to a drink when he came around to inspect what was going on.

He had a sip of my tea.

After a 'what the heck!' it didn't take him long to have another one!

Of course that wouldn't happen today with the current 'Health & Safety' regime...'

Many thanks to Bevan for this story, and how nice that he was able to get hold of his copy of the commemorative  photo of the works, albeit electronically, 58 years on -Ed.


* Sadly, since this diary entry was first published, John has passed away. -Ed

Bill Armsden writes:

'My dear friend John Bailey sadly passed away suddenly in September last year from a massive heart attack. It was always his intention to make a private video of 'his Middlewich' as he was Middlewich born and bred.
Sadly, that will never happen but we can thank him for the 8mm film shot in his car during the late 1960's whilst he travelled from St Annes Avenue through to Chester Zoo. The Middlewich Diary was given a copy of that film and John was very happy to do that.'

We were very sorry to hear of John's passing. Here's the link to that precious film -Ed

Please note that this film is temporarily unavailable, due to a technical problem. We hope to have the link restored very soon -Ed.

First published 28th February 2014
Re-published 28th February 2018
and 27th July 2018

Friday, 20 July 2018


by Dave Roberts

Long long ago, before the days of The Middlewich Paddies, this merry band of minstrels was flying the flag for folk music in Middlewich.

Three of the Kinderton Folk are instantly recognisable; on the right, in descending order are Graham Sivills, Michael 'Trampas' Woodbine, and the unmistakable Richard Devaney.

But who are the others?

No doubt someone will be able to supply the missing names.

Kinderton Folk was formed in the mid 70s and played folk club style gigs in the upstairs room at the Boar's Head among other venues.

The idea for a folk group really started with the Dane Rugby Club when Mike Hough, hearing Richard sing some bawdy rugby songs, suggested that his voice was good enough to sing something a little more - shall we say - respectable? and Kinderton Folk was the result.

Graham, Michael and Richard later got together to form the redoubtable Middlewich Paddies with the addition of Dave Thompson on guitar.

The formation of the Paddies and the idea for the Folk & Boat Festival (inspired by the Newcastleton Traditional Music Festival)  led to Middlewich gaining a good reputation among folk music fans and it was this that led eventually to the town's thriving festival and music scene today.

Editor's note: When this diary entry was first published in 2013 we erroneously dated the photo as 1980. Dave Thompson has pointed out that, as shown in the Middlewich Paddies logo (below), this date is obviously wrong, as 1980 was the year that the Paddies were founded. We've speculatively changed the date for Kinderton Folk to 'circa 1975'. If anyone knows the exact date for KF, please let us know. Thanks to Dave T for pointing this out.

There's more on the Middlewich Paddies, including some music clips, on Graham Sivill's website (which itself goes back a few years):


UPDATE (19th June 2018):

Graham Sivills writes:

Ha ha. OK - I might have got their surnames a bit wrong but let's go with Roger Thornton guitar. Jean Crooke and Pat Hannigan or Haddican on Banjo. Michael Trampas Woodbine on Whistle and Harmonica
First published 24th July 2013 as 'Kinderton Folk 1980'
Amended, reformatted and re-published 19th June  and 20th July 2018