Thursday, 11 November 2021






Photo: FBS Images
Now would seem to be a good time to go back 77 years to the original unveiling of our town's main War Memorial in the Bullring. 1934 is surprising late for the erection of such a memorial. Most of them were erected in the 1920s, a fact that probably accounts for Messrs Curson & Hurley in Middlewich - Images of England (Tempus Publishing 2005) captioning photos of the occasion as happening in 'the early 20s'.
As always, Allan Earl in Middlewich 1900-1950 (Cheshire Country Publishing 1994) has the truth of the matter. The unveiling was on the 18th November 1934 and a full account of the occasion is included in Allan's book (Pages 139-141).
The memorial (or 'cenotaph' as it is referred to by many locals) stayed in this position for 38 years until, as part of the 'Piazza' redevelopment of 1972, it was moved closer to the churchyard and re-dedicated as shown in the series of slides we've been featuring over the last few months.
In 2005, as we have seen, the area was redeveloped again but the memorial stayed more or less where it was.
Appropriately, the War Memorial bears a quotation from Middlewich historian Charles Frederick Lawrence:
'Through all eternity their names shall bide,
Enshrined as heroes who for Empire died'
The War Memorial as it was in 1972 after re-dedication in its new position on the 'Piazza'.
To the left of the picture the Talbot Hotel in Kinderton Street can be seen.

Facebook Feedback:

Chris Koons Wow! Who knew there were so many people IN Middlewich?

Dave Roberts Amazing isn't it? We have a good crowd every year for Remembrance Day, but I don't think there's ever been anything on that scale since the 1930s.

Geraldine Williams Interesting to see the Brauer Opticians and Pharmacy shop.
Miss Brauer was Brown Owl of the Middlewich Brownie pack for many years and her sister, Mrs Margaret Hall, was the Girl Guides' leader. Mrs Hall was also a pharmacist and dispensed at that shop.
After the shop was demolished she did some locum work at various chemists.
The shop, presumably, was owned by their father.
And what an amazing turnout. Those people standing near the church wouldn't see, or hear, any of the service. It's a sobering thought that just five years later additional names would start to be added to the Memorial. I imagine no one at this dedication service was anticipating that.

First published 10th November 2011
Re-published 8th November 2019
11th November 20201

Wednesday, 10 November 2021



On 5th November 2021 Laura Turner of the Fight For Middlewich Campaign spoke to Mike Cooksley of Radio Northwich about the campaign's aims and future plans.

If you'd like to listen to or download the interview, please click on these links:




Tuesday, 2 November 2021



From Facebook, 29th May 2011

This is the view from my bedroom window at no. 33 King Street in 1973. The Middlewich Archaeological Society is playing host to other archaeologists as they make a field trip to the dig in the field adjacent to our back fence. Many years later, this would also be the site of the Middlewich 'Community Dig'. In the background can be seen the site of the Seddons Pepper Street Works across the Canal and River Croco. This seemed to remain empty for many years (although the 1975 Inland Waterways Association Rally was held there) until the Moorings was built. If you look carefully, you can see that the Middlewich we know today was slowly taking shape around the new 'Inner Relief Road' (St Michael's Way). The telephone exchange is on the right and the 'Co-operative Superstore (now Tesco Express and the Super Discount store) on the left.
The huge building just to the right of centre is the rear of the former Barclays Bank and its associated flats.

Editor's Note (29th May 2018)

These early Facebook entries, published in the run-up to the launch of our Middlewich Diary blog in June 2011, are all rather vague and sketchy. The object of the exercise was to publish the actual colour photographs via the then still novel medium of Facebook and enabling people in Middlewich and elsewhere else to see them whenever they liked, rather than keeping them filed away for special occasions only. 

As always seemed to be the case with these early Facebook entries, more information was forthcoming with the Facebook feedback, which is reproduced below.

Facebook feedback

Dave Roberts The immaculate lawn in the foreground shows no sign of the ravages of a few years earlier when my Dad, a keen member of the Archaeological Society, dug his own trench there in search of Roman remains. The views of my Mother on this are not recorded. Dad was an early proponent of the idea that the 'Roman Settlement' at Harbutt's Field was much more than that - that it was, in fact, a full-blown Roman fort. And how right he was. The Roman site behind our fence turned out to be the site of an ancient iron works and, for a time, our garage shelves were stacked with boxes full of Roman nails.
.and I think I'm right in saying (real, proper Roman historians might like to help here) that if you draw a line on a map from the end of Brooks Lane (by the Boar's Head) to the southern entrance of the Roman Fort, this would have been the route of a road leading to the fort and lined with iron works, salt works and other industries serving the fort. Our back garden - and Dad's iron works - would have been on that road.

Maureen Condra Nice pics. They brings back a lot of memories. I used to  play dominoes in the Talbot when I was 18. Ha Ha! A long time ago. I love to see all the old pics.

Chris Koons Is that my Nana, there in the maroon/purple & the white hat, standing next to your mum? I'm sure I remember that hat! LOL

Here's a link to the Middlewich Diary version of this posting, with a little more information on the photo and a link to the Cheshire East/English Heritage pdf document explaining some of the background to various King Street digs including the ones of the early 1970s.


First published 29th May 2018
Re-published 2nd November 2021

Monday, 1 November 2021



                                             Photo: Russell Cooper. See below for caption

by David Roberts

IT'S becoming more and more obvious that a full investigation of the subway under St Michael's Way needs to be undertaken, irrespective of whether or not the current flooding and drainage problems can be sorted out in the short term.

I, like many people I'm sure, have been assuming that the underpass has been flooded to such an extent because of a combination of very wet weather and blocked drains.

When you look around the streets of Middlewich you can see that there are many many grids completely blocked and totally incapable of carrying away excess rainwater.

The grids on Newton Heath near to the vets surgery are a case in point.

That underpass has been there since 1972 and Middlewich folklore has it that it was constructed because several MUDC councillors lived on Webbs Lane and wanted an easy way to get across St Michael's Way and into town.

These disgraceful accusations are most probably apocryphal, of course. But whatever the truth of the matter, this pedestrian facility has certainly come into its own in the intervening years, particularly since the developments off Seddon Street.

What's giving me pause for thought is that in almost 50 years I don't ever remember the underpass being flooded. Certainly not to the extent that it has this year.

So, has something changed?

Some have suggested that the building work in Darlington Street may have disturbed something. 

Well, here's a chance for the much-criticised Middlewich Town Council to redeem itself and put pressure on Cheshire East, and its contractors, to find out what's really going on with that subway as a matter of urgency

If it's just blocked drains and too much rain, then all well and good.

But if there is something more serious happening, then we all need to know.

29th October 2021

UPDATE 30th October 2021

On Saturday morning, 30th October, a team of contractors arrived at the subway.

Garnet Marshall was there to take photographs and ask questions.

He writes:

I spoke to the man leading the team, a really nice guy who made the time to come talk. He told me that what they are doing today would probably not fix the problem permanently. 
But he did assure me that they are now on the case and will find ways and means of doing so.
He will recommend either temporary lights or clear signage to drivers warning them of pedestrians.
He said he would do his best to make sure regular updates are given via the CEC website.
What angers me is that it took a resident to make a call to the right person to make this happen.
Let's thank Janet Chisholm who succeeded in bringing this matter to the attention of the right people.

Garnet Marshall

Photographs by GARNET MARSHALL 30th October 2021

Update (1st November 2021):

Following the intervention by the impressive looking team of engineers and what we assume is some kind of high-tech pumping equipment seen in Garnet's photos, we were hoping that the problem could be solved, at least in the short term, although, as Garnet reports above, there were doubts that it could be permanently solved just yet.

I checked on the subway late in the evening of the 31st October and - to my amazement - found that not only was the subway still flooded, but the problem seemed to have worsened.

Just how much worse the problem was can be seen in these photos, taken by Russell Cooper on Monday 1st November.

The level of the flood water has now risen. This is the western, or 'Wheelock Street' side of the subway. Photo by Russell Cooper

The eastern, or 'Webbs Lane' entrance, showing how the water has now flooded the entire length of the subway. Photo by Russell Cooper

This seems to be a much more serious problem than first thought.

Here's an update from Garnet Marshall:

CEC has now raised the issue to Re: Risk of Death or Injury - Flooded underpass in Middlewich. They are now pulling out all the stops to get this sorted as soon as humanly possible. In an email the guy in charge says, 'In the short term I will ask for signs, barriers etc. to be improved and to make it clear that there is a pedestrian crossing not too far away. We will have to get rid of the water so that we can get the camera in to have a look. I’ll make sure that this is given priority'.

Garnet replies: Thank you sir, we can ask for no more.

Many thanks to Garnet and Russell for their invaluable contributions.

First published 29th October 2021
Updated and re-published 30th October 2021
Updated and re-published 1st November 2021

Sunday, 31 October 2021


Photo: Cliff Astles
by Dave Roberts

Here's a striking image which Cliff Astles sent to us a while ago and we thought might be appropriate for Halloween.
Behind all the 'ghosties and ghoulies' and the rather unpleasant fake blood and plastic daggers and silly masks and so on lies the real Halloween, or Eve of Hallowtide, which was celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November in Medieval times.
Hallowtide (or, in Ireland, 'Samhain') has (or had) little to do with the supernatural (and absolutely nothing to do with blood, horror and screaming skulls and the like - that's an American invention which only came into being when Hollywood started to get a grip of people's imaginations in order to promote its cheap blood and gore horror films).
It was a Christian festival and a time of feasting and celebration of the start of winter.
It later became linked with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, again celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November, in which the church celebrated its saints and martyrs and the departed souls of all who had gone before.
In England, until recent times, Halloween was regarded simply as a time when the 'spirit' world was closer to the every day world than usual.
Now, like Christmas and Easter, Halloween serves as another chance to make money for big business with sweet manufacturers and makers of novelties cashing in more and more with each passing year..
Good fun for the kids, of course, but a world away from its origins in the mists of time when people would pause for a while in their busy lives to remember those who had passed beyond the veil into unknown realms which we can only wonder about.

Halloween in Middlewich in the late 1950s and early 1960s was a fairly low-key affair, as it was elsewhere in Britain before the blatant commercialisation of the festival took hold.
We certainly made lanterns, but not out of pumpkins, which only went on sale here in recent years.
Our lanterns were  hollowed-out turnips with candles inside them, and they used to reek to high-heaven when they got hot.
In actual fact we were following a tradition which went back a lot further than the Americans' pumpkin carving. 
The original English medieval  Halloween tradition involved making lanterns from turnips and we were, whether we knew it or not, following that tradition.
I have vivid childhood memories of listening to ghost stories broadcast by AFN (the American Forces Network) on long-ago Halloween Nights over fifty years ago. They were broadcast on medium wave to the many American soldiers stationed here and all over Europe in those days.
The static and crackling and Radio Luxembourg-style fading in and out of the signal only added to the atmosphere.
Occasionally, but only occasionally, someone would organise a Halloween Party.
One such took place, I recall, in the late 1950s at the Manor, when it was still inhabited by the Willing-Denton family. As we were living in Nantwich Road at the time, it was just a matter of walking down the road and under the aqueduct to Manor Lodge, then making the arduous journey along the carriage drive to the Manor itself.
Once there, we were introduced to such quaint American customs as 'bobbing for apples'.
'Trick-or-treating' was discouraged because of  stories which reached us from America of people giving children apples with razor-blades in them and other such horrors. The stories were mostly complete nonsense - urban legends designed for the credulous. In fact, as far as we can gather,  there has only ever been one recorded instance of anyone trying to cause harm to trick-or-treating American children. The woman in question poisoned some candy and was later found to be insane. No one came to any harm.
But true or not, these gruesome stories put us off the idea of going from door to door asking for sweets, and the idea has only taken off in fairly recent years along with the rest of the Americanisation of Halloween.
Halloween in those days was just a distraction. Most of our energy was spent on preparing for the much more popular Bonfire Night a few days later.

Cliff's picture is made up of  images taken in and around Middlewich on two separate occasions. If you are wondering where the tree is, here, taken from his original comment on this entry, is what Cliff has to say:

As you pass the newly built houses along Warmingham Lane, look at the fields on your left hand side as you are going out of Middlewich (into Moston). After about 200 yards you will see the tree, just over the hedge and about 50 yards into the field.

- but please bear in mind that the rapid rate of housing development in Middlewich as in towns all over the area, means that the tree, and indeed the field, may not be there for much longer
Special Middlewich Diary Masthead for Halloween 2017

Our 'Three Witches' motif has been borrowed from the Middlewich Salt Company's letterhead.
Halloween has always had a particular resonance in the Cheshire salt towns, in all likelihood simply because 'wich' sounds like 'witch'. Carnivals and parades, particularly in Middlewich, always featured at least one 'Middlewich Witch'. This association was exploited by the Middlewich Salt Co. when it adopted as its trademark 'Middle-Witch Salt'.

Here's the full letterhead, this version of which dates back to 1946:

and here's a link to the Diary entry which, since we started in 2011, has always been our most popular entry:


...and  finally, here's a genuine Middlewich Witch at the 1973 Carnival in company with a lady advertising RHM's 'exceedingly good' Mr Kipling cakes...

First published Halloween Night (31st October) 2014
Revised and re-published Halloween Night 2016
 Halloween Night 2017
Halloween 2019 ('Not Brexit Day')
Halloween 2021

Saturday, 23 October 2021