INDEX

INDEX

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

BIG LOCK COTTAGE 1974


The lock-keeper's cottage at the Big Lock in 1974.  

For some reason this slide is undated but it's likely that the cottage was knocked down before it fell into the River Croco which is directly below its rear wall at the bottom of a sheer drop.

The cottage always had a precarious existence and. Messrs Curzon and Hurley confirm that it was 'demolished before it collapsed in the 1970s'.

An overflow channel from the pound above the lock runs into the river near the back of the cottage. An attractive garden associated with the Big Lock pub 
has replaced this building.

For more on this see this entry

First published 10th June 2011

Revised and re-published 27th November 2018

Sunday, 25 November 2018

WHERE AND WHAT IS SNJ?




When this was first published on Facebook at the start of June 2011, we presented it as a bit of a 'puzzle picture'.


 Here's the original description:

A bit of a puzzle picture today. Where is this sign? There are various clues: one is the blue brick to which the sign is attached; another is the pleasingly traditional design of the sign and a third is the lettering which does, in fact, tell you exactly where the sign is if you know what 'SNJ' stands for. Despite its rather old-fashioned look the sign hasn't been there very long (probably about 7 or 8 years) and, finally, thousands of people pass it every day.


This picture was first published on Facebook on 2nd June 2011. Below is the original feedback. If you haven't seen this before, why not try to figure out what 'SNJ' means before reading on?


Tim Moon  S stands for Staffordshire, J for Joint?

Dave Roberts Sorry, Tim. No and no.

 ‎...but I think you're on the right...er...track...

Tim Moon North Junction?


Dave Roberts Correct, Tim. So you've only the 'S' to figure out. You obviously already know what kind of sign this is.


Sherry Hill-Smith Sandbach north junction in 3 miles & 935 yards? But where it is - don't know. Can't come up with a blue building is it a train sign or a canal sign?


Dave Roberts Very good, Sherry. 'SNJ' is indeed 'Sandbach North Junction' (Sandbach South Junction disappeared many years ago). The blue brick is the brickwork of the Holmes Chapel Road bridge, close to where the old station was and, indeed, close to where the new station will be. I've always thought it odd that this sign, which is obviously for the benefit of railway personnel, should be on the 'road' side of the bridge rather than the 'railway' side. Railway distances are still measured in miles, yards and chains, btw.

 ‎...oh, and '12' is simply the number of the bridge, of course.


Tim Moon Bridge plates are often on the outside as maintenance staff would often travel to a site on the road.

Dave Roberts In fact, there are at least two of these signs on the bridge; the one shown in our picture, and one on the 'Northwich' side of the bridge at track level. This can just be made out on the photo included in the 'Subterranea Brittanica' link below.


First published 7th July 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 25th November 2018

Thursday, 22 November 2018

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS SWITCH-ON AND MEXON MARKET 2018 (ARCHIVED)







Route for the parade:


from Jacks car park, into St Ann’s Road, then Newton Heath, down Darlington Street then up Wheelock Street to the Bull Ring (many thanks to Nicci Anthoney for this information).

FULL DETAILS:

SCHNITZEL HOUSE
Today we will be joining Middlewich once again for its fantastic Christmas light switch on 4-8pm.We will be situated by the Vaults pub.

Pop along and see us for some tasty Bratwurst and Schnitzel.Even a kids deal  £3.50
________________________________________________

DRINKS & BITES AT NO. 35
HAPPY MASSIVE FRIDAY!!!
It’s lights switch on day & we are going for it!!! We’ve got: Slutty Brownies both PB & Oreo, Cookies, Choc/Orange cupcakes, Snowy Road, Rocky Road, Choc/Orange GF DF Brownies, MINCE PIE MONSTER SPONGE...& all your faves!!!
Hot choc with Baileys/Amaretto, Mulled Wine, Bakewell Fizz, Prosecco, Bombardinos & Peroni!!
We cannot wait!!! Let’s make it a fantastic day!!! Support your local business in YOUR TOWN!!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


From five years ago...our Musical Christmas Card!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!


The (new) Annals Of Middlewich:

2018 - Kerry Katona fails to make an appearance at the Switch-on to plug the Northwich panto she's appearing in. End of civilisation as we know it. Rioting in the streets. Council confirms that, as per their publicity, she wasn't due to switch on the lights (that was the Mayor and the Rose Queen) and wasn't going to be paid (and neither were any of the other guests who appeared).
Keep Middlewich Miserable brigade welcomes two chances of having a good moan: one moan because KK was invited in the  first place, and another moan because she wasn't there..

Monday, 12 November 2018

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