INDEX

INDEX

Sunday, 28 April 2019

THE CROXTON WATER FALL ENIGMA - THE ANSWER


by Dave Roberts

Back in the early part of 2012 this postcard from the Paul Hough Collection had us puzzled and intrigued for many a long hour. Many people had a go at reconciling the view above with what most people thought must be the modern-day 'waterfall' or weir. 
The theorizing and speculation went on for a long time and spawned no less than three diary entries with new photographs, diagrams, maps and theories galore to explain what looked like drastic changes to the river and the land and buildings on its banks.

My first thought was that the photo had something of the look of Chester Road about it. This was based on nothing more than a feeling, as there is certainly nothing even slightly resembling a waterfall on the River Wheelock near Chester Road.

Most people's thoughts turned to the River Dane near Croxton Lane where there is a weir (which the fanciful might describe, at a pinch, as a 'waterfall'). But try as we might we couldn't get the modern day weir or its surroundings to fit the old postcard. Not, that is, without surmising that something truly catastrophic must have happened to the area between the date of the postcard and the present day. 

Here's a link to part one of our collective musings. There are links to parts two and three in the text.

CROXTON WATER FALL

As in the case of  most of our Middlewich Diary 'mysteries' the answer was actually quite straightforward, if unexpected. 

It took a lateral thinker like 'Harry Random' to come up with the answer. And here it is. Read it and weep!

Hi Dave,

The 'mystery' surrounding the Croxton waterfall and the differences in the two pictures (the old postcard and a more recent picture of the waterfall) has led to numerous theories to explain the anomaly. In some ways the person that came closest to solving the mystery was the person who wrote "Now and Then: Can this really be the same place?". (that was me! - Ed)

The explanation for the differences in the appearance of the waterfall can be traced back to the original photographer mislabelling the photograph. As a result a photograph that was taken of the waterfall which is next to St Leonard's Church, School Lane, Warmingham Cheshire was later used for the postcard showing "Croxton Water Fall, Middlewich".

Therefore the answer to the mystery is that they are not actually of the same place, and the house that is in the background of the postcard can still be seen from the bridge which is opposite the Bears Paw in Warmingham.

Regards,

Harry Random


So, in conclusion, there was, and is, a Croxton Water Fall (or weir)  in all likelihood in the spot we were looking at, not far from the Croxton Lane Bridge. It's just that that 'water fall' is not the one shown in the picture!

Photo: Cheshire Image Bank (courtesy of Chris Koons)
UPDATE:

Only the day after this was published, another view of the house in the photo came to light on the Cheshire Image Bank site. Here's what we said on Facebook:


Well that's torn it! You know when you think you've solved a mystery....? Chris Koons (Christine Sant as was) who now lives in the USA, tracked down this old postcard in the Cheshire Image Bank. It's clearly the house in our 'Croxton Water Fall' photo and it's titled 'Croxton Hall'. You can even see a bit of the weir in the bottom right hand corner. So is this another mis-labelled postcard? What's needed is a modern day photo of the house which, according to 'Harry Random', can be seen from the bridge over the River Wheelock next to Warmingham Church and opposite 'the Bear's Paw. Curioser and curioser...
First published 27th April 2019

Updated and re-published 28th April 2019


Saturday, 27 April 2019

CROXTON WATER FALL


We believe this image to be out of copyright. If you own the copyright, or know who does, please let us know
(ORIGINAL DATE OF THIS ENTRY 04/02/2012)
by Dave Roberts

UPDATE: Below is the original text of this Diary entry, full of surmise, conjecture and theory, which I have, as is usual on these occasions, left intact to illustrate once more how the Middlewich Diary works, drawing in further theories, conjecture, surmise and, ultimately, information.
It appears that  Croxton Flint Mill  was the reason for the existence of 'Croxton Water Fall' in the first place, 

 The 'water fall' is still there, but in a ruined state - was it damaged by flooding, or just allowed to fall into rack and ruin?
And is the building in the background of our photo the original Croxton Hall Farm? What happened to that? Why was it demolished?
There appears to be no trace whatsoever of this building left in the present day.
All contributions, as ever, gratefully received.

UPDATE (27th April 2019):
We found out a lot about Croxton Waterfall and why it was created but,  try as we might, we couldn't reconcile the scene shown in the old postcard with the modern day 'water fall'. Now, seven years on years on from our original post, and after much conjecture and head scratching, the answer to this interesting conundrum has finally been supplied by no less a person than 'Harry Random' (a pseudonym). The answer, now that we finally have it, is actually quite obvious, but it's one that never occurred to us. If you've never read these articles before, you'll find the links to all three of them below. If you're new to this 'mystery' you might like to take some time reading through them.

But here, with many thanks to 'Harry' is the answer to the Croxton Water Fall enigma.

THE ANSWER


Original text:
CROXTON WATER FALL
Here's an intriguing one. Where is, or was, Croxton Water Fall?
Our usual first resort, Google, reveals nothing (although it does reveal just how many places there are called 'Croxton' all over the world) and I have to confess to never having heard of Croxton Water Fall before.
Neither do I recall ever having seen this picture, until it turned up as part of the Paul Hough Collection recently (It does, in fact, appear in Middlewich by Brian Curzon and Paul Hurley - see Update, below - so must be a reasonably well-known Middlewich photo)
The fact that we are looking at a commercial post card seems to suggest that the area was quite well known as a local beauty spot.
Croxton itself, by which we mean the area around Croxton Lane, is an area where waters meet.
The Rivers Dane, Wheelock and Croco all come together close to where the narrow Croxton Aqueduct on the Trent & Mersey Canal stands.
So which of them was able to boast such an impressive water fall?
We can, of course, rule out the poor old River Croco. We're well acquainted with its course through the town, certainly from Brooks Lane down to its meeting with the Dane at the edge of Harbutt's Field.
It's a narrow and shallow river and, though it does have quite abrupt changes in level in its journey through town, can boast nothing on this scale.
The Wheelock too, which meanders into Middlewich near Nantwich Road and takes a leisurely course along the outskirts of the town heading for Chester Road and its own meeting with the Dane, is rather a small scale river, nothing like as wide as the river (if it is a river) shown here.
That rather grand house in the background, though, is rather suggestive of Chester Road, somehow.
Could Croxton Water Fall be somewhere along that stretch of the River between the Shropshire Union aqueduct and Chester Road, hidden by all those trees which Mr Boosey planted before the First World War and which have been growing wild ever since (see this entry)?
Is the River Wheelock wide enough at any point along that stretch for this water fall to be a part of it?
And could that part of Middlewich be legitimately described as 'Croxton', anyway?
Which leaves us with the River Dane itself.
That river, within the town boundary (in fact, to the north of Middlewich, the course of the river actually is the town boundary), flows mostly through low-lying pasture land and the only large house I know of anywhere near its banks is Ravenscroft Hall, which is not the house seen here.
The weir certainly looks very much as if it could be man made, particularly with that retaining wall on the left.
Maybe Croxton Water Fall is another one of those mysterious gaps in my Middlewich education (like the aptly named 'Mystery Wood') and everyone will be amazed at my lack of knowledge of it.
I have a feeling that the house in the background is the key to this one.
Is it the original Croxton Hall Farm?

Facebook feedback:

Andy Kendrick On the River Dane to your right as you go over the bridge on Croxton Lane. Years ago, when we swam there, the water had a salty taste. We weren't drinking it though...

Dave Roberts What's the big house in the background?

Geraldine Williams Croxton Hall Farm

Dave Roberts Wow! There you go - another gap in my education. I must get down there (when the weather improves, of course) to get a modern day shot for comparison.

Liza Cornall  Not sure it is there. The height of the water is nowhere near...even when I was a kid swimming in the river, it wasn't that steep, I'm sure. Unless the river is now much higher than in the pic?

Dave Roberts I'm not sure either, Liza. The picture was taken a very long time ago (probably early 20th century) and so the area must have changed considerably. As I said before, I think a trip down to Croxton Lane with the camera is a must.

Geraldine Williams Zoom in on the satellite map of Croxton Lane and the waterfall shows up well.

Dave Roberts  Extraordinary. The waterfall's there (on Google Earth - Ed), but very much in a state of dereliction, compared to the way it looks in the old photograph. And the farm looks a lot further away from the river than it would appear to be in the photo. In actual fact the buildings shown in the photograph can't possibly be the present day farm buildings. They're completely different. The photograph must be very old indeed, and the buildings in it long gone. And the retaining wall on the left of the photograph has disappeared, along with anything else which might show that this was once a neat and tidy structure. I wonder if it was all swept away in the 1930s, in the floods which also put paid to the original Croxton aqueduct? This would explain the difference in the steepness of the waterfall which Liza mentioned. Possibly the farm buildings and a lot of the river bank were washed away by flood waters. After all, if they were powerful enough to demolish an aqueduct...

Geraldine Williams What would be the purpose of an artificial waterfall like that one? Not for water power presumably.


Dave Roberts Possibly just for the sheer joy of having a waterfall next to your property?  
(Not so - as we now know, the waterfall was there for a very definite, industrial, purpose - see below -Ed)
It was certainly very picturesque in its day. I wonder if the 1930s floods also swept away the original farmhouse and  altered the level of the riverbank?

Geraldine Williams Yes, the waterfall certainly is an enhancement and the placement of the trees looks more landscaped and ordered than random. I can see why you thought about Boosey's. I'm a bit uneasy about the actual building. The farmhouse is currently at the top of the hill and Croxton Hall is on the King Street side of the farm and if the house shown in the photograph had been demolished because of flooding in the '30s I'm sure it would have been a major, recorded event. But if this is not Croxton Waterfall then where else could it be?!!

Dave Roberts You're right. That's what I was thinking. In Middlewich such an event would still be talked about to the present day. Mind you, not a lot has ever been said about the destruction of an entire canal aqueduct by flood water, which we know definitely did happen. And yes, the picture still reminds me in some way of Chester Road. That's just me. In the same way, the 'Awkward Turn To The Lompon' photo still looks, to me, like Kinderton Street, even though I now know it was taken in Lower Street.

Chris Koons Are we talking about the spot just off Croxton Lane? There appears to be another similar, but narrower and more complete, 'waterfall' structure a bit further round the river, close to the reservoir thing.

Dave Roberts That's the place. I take it we're looking at the area on Google Earth? Actually there are a lot of these waterfalls along the Dane (and our other rivers too, of course). But I never knew that this particular one had been dignified with the name of 'Croxton Water Fall'. The one you're talking about, further towards the King Street road and railway bridges, is close to the spot we were looking at here.

UPDATE: We've received the following in the form of a comment from 'Cliffhanger 41' which sheds a lot of light on this subject:

'Dave,the waterfall shown is certainly the one off Croxton Lane. I believe it was built to use the retained water to drive the Flint Mill that was used some long time ago to grind down flint to a powder. This was then transported to the S.O.T. area by the canal to be used to glaze pottery (I think)
A Middlewich Heritage plaque, on the canalside, at the junction of the canal and the river Dane will tell you more.'

The plaque in question is actually one of the information boards (no 10) for the 'Tales of Wych & Water' trail which is just one of eight trails featured in the Middlewich Trails Brochure.
According to the information in the brochure the flint mill operated for about a hundred years, between 1810 and 1910.
There is also information on the original aqueduct which was built in 1777 by Thomas Brindley, replaced in the late nineteenth century and replaced again following disastrous flooding by the present structure around 1930.
The blue brick structures on either side of the present aqueduct are likely to be part of the second aqueduct.
There are also traces, near the site of the mill, of the millrace which ran all the way from the weir (or 'Croxton Water Fall'), and underneath Croxton Lane to power the mill (see below).

UPDATE 11/2/2012:



This diagram was drawn by Frank Smith of Ravenscroft in 1993 to illustrate an article he wrote for the Heritage Society Newsletter in that year.
The weir (or waterfall) is shown here to the right of Croxton Lane and Frank has drawn the course of the millrace which ran from there to the Flint Mill which was, as can be seen, actually on the other side of Croxton Lane and close to the Trent & Mersey Canal (the Flint Mill was not the subject of Frank's article, and so the entire millrace is not shown. It must have been very long indeed).
To the right of the diagram is Croxton Hall, which Frank describes as a 'cheese farm' and has marked as 'demolished'.
Is it the large building seen in the 'Croxton Water Fall' photo?
MORE ON THIS HERE

SEE ALSO CROXTON WATER FALL 2

UPDATE: 5/03/2012: Page 75 of Middlewich (Images of England - Tempus Publishing 2005) by Brian Curzon and Paul Hurley includes the image of the 'water fall' together with a closer view of  the hall.

This is what the book has to say about the hall and the 'water fall':

Croxton Hall is a rambling, romantic brick-and-timber framed house of the mid-nineteenth century, built on a picturesque site on the banks of the River Croco
and
'Croxton waterfalls' was actually a weir constructed to control the flow of the river and prevent flooding nearer the town. There was a pool behind which not only made a romantic aspect from the house but could also be used for boating, fishing and other genteel Victorian outdoor pastimes


SEE ALSO: THE MIDDLEWICH LIDO (CROXTON WATER FALL 3)

First published 4th February 2012
Revised and updated 27th April 2019

Friday, 26 April 2019

LILYWHITE POSTCARDS OF MIDDLEWICH


by Malcolm Hough and Dave Roberts

A friend of mine, Maurice Weedall of King’s Crescent, recently brought me six post cards to look at, featuring scenes of Middlewich.
Some we have seen before, but two of them are new to me. 
What I find interesting is that five out of the six are from the well-known Lilywhite series and have the original copyright number on them. They appear to belong to the same set.
I was wondering if it might be possible to track down a full set of these cards? They are all top quality and enlarge well on the screen - Malcolm Hough

Editor's Note: Lilywhite Ltd of Brighouse were only one of many firms producing postcards of thousands of locations all over the world. Malcolm appears to be right in saying that these cards are part of a Middlewich series, as can be seen by the index numbers MDH 57/MDH 25 and so on on all but the last one, which seems to be from a different publisher. Internet searches bring up long lists of postcards from Lilywhite and other publishers, but little about the postcard manufacturers themselves. We'd be grateful for any information about this fascinating source of pictorial history. -Ed.





This postcard shows the Parish Church with the iron railings still in place*, and also showing railings over the river Croco (extreme left, abutting the Town Bridge parapet).
Maurice told me that in this photo, by the Church’s rear gate, one of the two gentlemen in waistcoats, is his grandfather (who died before 1944 when Maurice was born). He is probably the one pushing the trolley, or push chair. The child is Maurice’s elder brother Barry about 1940/41.
The graffiti 'artists' were also about in those days - see the town bridge wall.
Also visible in this photo are the corks on the overhead wires to stop birds flying into them, mainly the racing  pigeons which were, and still are, so popular in this and other parts of the north. Maurice thinks that the mounds in the Churchyard are freshly cut grass left to dry on a hot Summer day, possibly to supply horse feed with it being wartime. - Malcolm Hough

* which, obviously shows the photograph to have been taken  during the earliest days of the Second World War when, in common with similar railings from all over the country, they were removed to provide scrap metal for the war effort. In fact very little of the metal collected was ever used for the war effort and a lot of it, particularly in London, was quietly dumped at sea. The exercise was chiefly valuable as propaganda, making people think that they were making sacrifices to win victory. It's a pity the church's railings couldn't have been returned or replaced after the war. However, on a brighter note, Middlewich's beautifully ornate cemetery gates in Chester Road were spared and were recently restored to their former glory. (update (April 2019: Sadly, our beautiful cemetery gates were, almost unbelievably, wrecked once more by an out-of control car not long after this was written. At the time of writing - 26th April 2019 - they are yet to be repaired - Ed) To the right is Middlewich's long-vanished, and still much-missed, Victorian Town Hall -Ed.



This one is very well-known and crops up repeatedly in many a collection of Middlewich pictures. It was on sale in local newsagents right up until the early 1970s for those who had taken the novel step of holidaying in Middlewich and wanted to let the folks at home know of its glories. The picture itself appears to have been taken in the early to mid 1950s.
We're standing on the other side of the Town Hall shown in the previous picture, in The Bullring, and looking along the still very recognisable Wheelock Street, the main points of reference being the now beautifully restored White Bear Hotel on the right,and, in the middle distance, the distinctive facade of the Alhambra Cinema which, despite the vicissitudes of the years, still retains all that ornamental decoration and, almost miraculously, its name.
The building on the extreme right is now the site of the Vaults car park and the building visible between it and the White Bear is now home to two hairdressing establishments and the former home of the celebrated Sharon's Cafe.
The Vaults itself is set back from the road, and lurking between these two buildings waiting for the day, many years later, when it would emerge into the open to be the first building on that side of Wheelock Street.
Out of shot on the extreme right is the start of Pepper Street, meandering away from the town centre to join Webbs Lane and giving access to Henry Seddon's Pepper Street Salt Works along the way.
The buildings on the left have now disappeared to make way for what is now Tesco Express and the former Pineland Shop. - Dave Roberts



We have definitely seen this picture of King Street before, and it has featured in a previous Middlewich Diary entry, which you can see here. This is King Street, Middlewich, either during or just after the Second World War. The car looks to be of 1930s vintage but in those 'make do and mend' days may well have kept running throughout the war and beyond. The large tree, centre right, marks the spot where King Street curves to the right to cross over the railway line and then start its climb up Ravenscroft Hill. The huge poles along the left hand side of the street are part of the somewhat Heath-Robinson style electricity supply to King Street, in which the cables were strung along the street like telephone cables. The lower part of King Street even used to have wooden electricity poles which had street lights screwed to them, Part of this now antiquated system still survives.
We can date this photo as being from the 1940s by the two houses on the right, which were built by my Grandmother and my Mother's cousin Harry  in the late thirties and were the only houses on that side of this stretch of the road until building began again after the war. -Dave Roberts




Another rather familiar postcard view, this time pure 1920s suburbia as Nantwich Road makes its genteel way down to the aqueduct. The entrance to Mill Lane is to the right. Notice the elaborate telegraph pole - just one of millions which used to line nearly every road and railway line at one time - and the small road sign; all that was necessary to control traffic in the days before the world went motor-car crazy. We think this picture dates from the 1940s. Notice how spick and span everything seems. - Dave Roberts




I was looking at this postcard of Chester Road and noticed that  the name of the landlord on the Golden Lion pub sign is  F. A. Egerton. According to Middlewich Hospitality, the new book by Ken Kingston,  he (Frank Egerton) was the landlord from 1929 to 1944. So as with the St Michael's photo, this one was probably taken in  the early  years of the  war, which  may explain why all the roads are quiet. It would be nice to find a full set of these postcards.
The shop with the Gold Flake sign in the window was also a cafe in those days. I remember it being a shop in the 60’s but not a cafe. - Malcolm Hough

This photo is the 'odd one out' among Maurice's  postcards, as it is not  part of the Lilywhite Series. It does, though, appear to be one of a set of Middlewich cards as it bears the index number MDW4. It's titled 'King Street Schools' which dates it as pre-1920s when the 'deviation' from the original line of the road was developed and this section of King Street became 'New King Street'. The aerial view of the two roads below, which is taken from Google Earth, shows how New King Street aligns perfectly with the top part of King Street (as shown in the postcard above).Presumably the 'New' prefix was given to what is actually the old section of road so that there would not need to be a change of name as the new alignment met the old. Notice the lovely old gas lamps along the street. This scene has not altered very much over the years, although the building on the right, which was St Mary's Primary School, is now St Mary's Parish Hall. - Dave Roberts
The yellow line follows the route of New King Street from St Mary's Church to the foot of the railway bridge to show how it aligns with the 'top' section of King Street. Before the coming of the railway the road would have continued along the side of Harbutt's field and, probably, made its way along the riverbank before turning to bridge the river and resume its northerly course towards Northwich and Warrington. The green cross marks the position of St Mary's Church and the former school, and the red cross is the site of the houses in the 'King Street' postcard above


 

With many thanks to Malcolm Hough and Maurice Weedall.

First published 1st May 2015.
Up-dated and re-published 26th April 2019

Saturday, 20 April 2019

MIDDLEWICH DIARY EASTER QUIZ, APRIL 19th 2019 (ARCHIVED).




Music round and interval music provided by


Finding ourselves with a 'spare' Middlewich Diary Quiz we've decided to brighten up your Good Friday evening at the Boar's Head, and raise some money for the British Heart Foundation. 

We're pleased to welcome on board Eddie Bath, bingo caller extraordinaire, who we met during our short-lived sojourn at the King's Lock earlier this year and who offered his services, as he always does, free of charge. 

In fact Eddie's always on hand to provide his expertise in aid of a good cause.





UPDATE (13th APRIL 2019)

The rounds for the quiz this time around will be:



1) Easter. What do you know about Easter, its traditions and its history? Come to that, what do we know? Seven questions about Easter, plus three of Mr Roberts' favourite 'Call My Bluff' questions.

2) Mystery Voices. Taken from adverts and TV shows over the years. Who are all these people?

3) The Music Round. Tons of tunes from the last sixty years, with a little bit of Easter frivolity thrown in. Nine tracks which were Easter number ones from the 1950s until the 2010s, plus one song that can't not be played at any Easter quiz.

4) Dead Or Alive. An old favourite. Are these people dead or alive? We're not talking about the Boar's Head regulars, but these famous people from all walks of life.

5) The picture round. Celebrities at Easter. Who's this lot then...…?



Update (20th April 2019):

The results

(scores are out of a possible 50 points)

'Just The Two Of Us' (32)
'Kid Free!' (33)
'Mary and Me' (34)
'The Two Js' (35)

The winners: MOORES MATES (42)


Just some of the prizes on offer, donated by Mrs Lynne Hardy.
Other prizes of bottles of wine were donated by The Boar's Head and Mrs Linda Boden

The quiz raised £50 for the British Heart Foundation
Many thanks for individual donations from John Boden and Danny Smith

Thanks also to Eddie for his bingo expertise, and Mary for ensuring that the Bingo (and the quiz) ran so smoothly. To Liz and Pat McGuinness and their staff for hosting the quiz at the Boar's Head, with especial thanks to Martin Dickinson. 

Here's the picture round, preserved for posterity. Two teams got them all right! See how you do! (answers below)






First published 10th March 2019
Revised and re-published 14th March 2019, 27th March 2019.
Re-published 4th April 2019
13th April 2019
18th April 2019
19th April 2019
Archived 20th April 2019

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

CARNIVAL DANCERS, NEWTON HEATH 1973

This shot shows one of several dance teams taking part in the 1973 carnival procession and crossing Newton Heath. We've seen in a previous posting that the procession started at the Big Lock and so must have traversed Finney's Lane, Croxton Lane, Chester Road, Newton Bank and Newton Heath. It then turned down Darlington Street, turned right into Wheelock Street and from there onto St Michael's Way, Leadsmithy Street and Lewin Street before branching off at The British Legion and making its way to the Carnival site at the Manor Estate at the top end of Sutton Lane. A very long trek indeed.

Notice, in the background, the open space on Newton Heath where 'Digger' Don Niblett would, in later years, build a brand new home and, famously, a short time afterwards, try to demolish it.

Long before the FAB Festival - before, even, the original Folk & Boat Festival, there was the Middlewich Carnival which, in its last incarnation, overlapping the 'Folk & Boat' for a couple of years, was organised and run by the Round Table. 

Middlewich Carnival was legendary. Small town life at its very best, with a pleasing home-made, make-do-and-mend air about it which carried over into the early years of the Folk & Boat Festival but, sadly, has now mostly evaporated.

Facebook Feedback:

Bernice Walmsley Fascinating - do tell more about 'Digger'


Dave Roberts The facts in the case are simple: Don built a luxury home on Newton Heath (it's still there) and, after a row with his wife, borrowed a digger from work with the intention of knocking the house down. He did a small amount of damage to one corner (where, by coincidence, some of my collection of disco records had been left after a party) and got himself in the national newspapers.

Bernice Walmsley Thanks Dave - your Middlewich Diary is the only thing that I get distracted by when I'm busy so, thanks...

Geraldine Williams It was certainly the talk of the town.......! Wasn't the deed done late at night?

Gives lie to the saying 'there's no fury like a woman scorned....'! He he!


Dorothy Kelly-Hughes I'd forgotten all about that incident Dave!

First published 8th September 2011

Amended, re-formatted and re-published 10th April 2019