Thursday, 30 June 2011


by Dave Roberts

Well at least they seem to for us. Here we are back on our old stamping ground as it 
was in the summer of 1975 (a long, hot summer it was too).

This slide shows the Kinderton Street we know today taking shape (although the scene today has been considerably softened by the planting of numerous trees). Notice the Town Wharf in the background (the whitewashed buildings in the centre of the shot) which, contrary to what you might expect, seems to be in a much smarter and better condition than it is today. Behind the fence, high up on the bank to the right, is the much curtailed Moreton's farm where a new, modern-style and utterly bland and boring farmhouse was built to replace the old one. If, that is, one can replace the irreplaceable.

Facebook Feedback:

Geraldine Williams What I like about all these pictures is the way that the Parish Church sits there benignly over the years, solid as a rock, no matter what mayhem, in the name of progress, is taking place all around it. However, can I just say that after all the angst over the years about demolitions and moving the Cenotaph, etc. it has all been worthwhile because the view of the Church, amphitheatre etc, when seen from St Michael's Way is spectacular and must give a terrific first impression to visitors to the town.

Re-formatted 19th April 2020


Photo: Middlewich Heritage Society

As part of our policy of linking up with as many local organisations as possible to promote the study of Middlewich history and heritage, here's another obvious link to make - the Middlewich Heritage Society


I have a particularly soft spot for the society, not least because I was one of its founders, back in 1985, with my then wife, Anita, and Ian and Margaret McQueen. I was also, for quite a few years, editor of the 'MHS Newsletter' where I did very much the same thing as I'm doing now - publishing photos of items of interest to Middlewich people with my own ( admittedly, sometimes, idiosyncratic) commentary on them. The difference in the technology used then and now is, of course, immense and, I don't think, requires a lot more comment. Suffice it to say that the days of cutting and pasting (literally) material for photocopying, and typing on an old, ex-ERF Imperial typewriter are long gone. The other difference, of course is in the method of distribution. We now have the power to distribute material world-wide at the touch of a button. I very much hope that everyone concerned in promoting Middlewich , past and present, will want to link up with us. As this never-ending series continues, I'll be re-visiting some of those early 'MHS Newsletters' and finding out what's changed, for better or worse - Dave Roberts

Facebook Feedback

Jude Kelly Is that the Kings Lock I spy? Where, thanks to Lizzie Rosenfield and Co, I began to build up my confidence to start singing again three years ago? Great pub!!

Dave Roberts Quite right, Jude. That's the place. Now under new management and being run by Simon Affleck with assistance from Josie Hewitt. They plan to re-introduce food as soon as possible. We wish them every success.


A view of the remodelling of Kinderton Street in October 1974, showing the drastic way in which the roadway was altered. The Boar's Head is on the extreme left and next to that is the building which is now part of the Kinderton Hotel. Everything from the bungalow by Town Bridge to the junction with King Street was swept away, including the Talbot Hotel, Flag Alley, Costello's and Whittaker's shops,several houses, a chip shop and, as we've seen, Moreton's farm house. Note also, in the background, the array of large buildings in Lewin Street which were also demolished shortly afterwards. Only Victoria Building, just visible above the white 'Kinderton Hotel' building remains. The precarious looking walkway on which the lady in the blue dress is walking was the only pedestrian access to King Street at this time, perched high up on the bank, and with only that rickety wooden fence to stop anyone falling over the edge.

Note: When this slide was first published here, we mistakenly gave the date as '1972' which threw the dates of several other postings out of kilter and led to this nifty piece of detective work on Facebook:

  •  Geraldine Williams: A previous page shows Mary Costello standing outside her shop in Kinderton Street and the date shown is 1973.
    30 minutes ago · 

  • Dave Roberts Aha! Well spotted. So it looks like the 1972 date on the original view is the incorrect one. Of course, wouldn't you just know it, I can't find the original slide just at the moment...
    24 minutes ago · 

  • Dave Roberts I just found a slide dated 1972 (stamped July 1972 by Kodak) which shows St Michael's Way well on its way to completion.It would appear that Kinderton Street and St Michael's Way were separate schemes and that St Michael's Way was completed first.
    12 minutes ago · 

  • Dave Roberts 

    Mystery solved. I've now found that original slide which is date-stamped OCT 74. So St Michael's Way came first in 1972; I was able to photograph Mary outside the shop in 1973 before it was swept away. the temporary footpath arrangements were in place in the winter of 1974, and the 'new' Kinderton Street was nearing completion in June 1975. Sounds about right. I've altered the date of the original slide on the Diary to 1974. (original comment from Facebook)

(First published on Facebook 14th April 2011)


Wednesday, 29 June 2011


 Niddrie's toy shop in Lewin Street, established in 1918, and a genuine Middlewich institution. The shop is due to close on Monday 4th July after 93 years and, for once, that overworked expression 'The End Of An Era' will be fully justified. Thankfully, though, the shop itself will not be demolished but rented out*. It will be interesting to see what kind of retail establishment takes the place of this venerable business.

*UPDATE. Not true, unfortunately. Demolition began at the end of June 2012.
Photo: The Local Data Company

See also  40 Lewin Street (Maureen Condra)
               Going...going...(July 2011)


This murky scene of industrial dereliction shows the old ICI Middlewich works in the process of being dismantled in the early to mid 60s. The works closed in 1962 and the demolition seems to be in a fairly advanced state, so the photo, taken by Jack Stanier, probably dates from around 1964-5. The large building in the middle of the shot was retained by Pochin Ltd when they took over part of this site in the late 60s, as were many other buildings on the site. At least one survives today, running along 'Road Beta' and adjoining the wrought iron works gates which still also survive largely intact. The other end of the site, filled with railway sidings in ICI days, was completely cleared and became home to ERF's Service Centre in 1971. The old ERF buildings also still exist but have been reclad and are anonymous and nondescript in their present guise. The structure to the right was part of the works' limestone crushing plant and to the right of that, out of shot, was (and still is) the King's Lock pub. If you look closely at the slide you may also be able to pick out the cast iron canal signpost which directed boats to Chester via the SUC Middlewich Branch

Monday, 27 June 2011

Friday, 24 June 2011




We're delighted to have received this photo from ex-Middlewich resident Maureen Condra who now lives in America (hence her explanation that the 'sidewalk was being repaired' when the picture was taken). The picture shows her birthplace at 40 Lewin Street. On the extreme right is the distinctive end wall of the White Horse and the building on the left looks like the present day (but, sadly, soon to be closed) Niddrie's Toy Shop. The buildings in between the two have now been replaced by open space - i.e.the White Horse's car park and a short access road to the rear of Niddries.  Notice, on the building next to the White Horse, one of those old road signs, similar to the one we saw on the end of Costello's shop in Kinderton Street. Many thanks to Maureen for letting us see this photo.

See also  The End Of An Era


A familiar sight in Wheelock Street, Middlewich, in the present day. At one time this was Drinkwater's Shoe Shop. If you have a photograph of the premises in shoe shop days, we'd be pleased to hear from you.
(Photo: Cancer Research UK)


Here's the companion view to our previous one (link below) of the top end of Wheelock Street from the opposite direction, with the Crosville single-decker all present and correct on the right. Above it is the present day 'Cabin' (or 'T'riffic Togs', or something), but we have somehow contrived to confine this shot to buildings which are still in existence. In 1969 nobody really knew what was going to go and what was going to stay so, for all we knew, the whole scene might have disappeared. To the left can be seen the long frontage of Douglas Williams Electrical, in the gentlemanly hands at that time of Harry Jackson, and, right in the middle of the shot, is the Cafe (now closed) which was once the home of one of  the town's doctors' surgeries.
See also


SHARON BARNARD (MATHER), now exiled down in Watford, but still a Middlewichian at heart, sent us a message on Facebook which reads:

Hi Dave, I'm sure I remember going to a cafe for a scone with my Mum in about 1977 (5 years old so my memory could be wrong). Anyway, I was sure this cafe was next to the Vaults. Is this right? Was there a cafe there or have I got the location mixed up? It's such a vivid memory and I can even remember how nice the scone was! We had just been to the hairdressers together. Now this is a weird one because I think we went to Larry's but it was a ladies salon. I don't know if this is right either. I thought that had always been a barbers.

An interesting one. The only cafe I can remember around this time was at the top of Wheelock Street - the one which is still referred to as 'Jan's Cafe' and is now closed. This was, in my younger years, the doctor's surgery - home to Doctors Brown, Graham and Neil (who looked like my Dad and made a point of knocking down one of  the 'Keep Left' signs on Town Bridge several times a year).(see the correction, below, from Geraldine Williams concerning the Doctors and their surgeries -ed)
But that's beside the point. I think the most likely location for Sharon's cafe is one of the two shops next to the Vaults which, as we've seen, have been all kinds of things over the years. There was, of course, a cafe across the road for a short time, in the 'Middlewich In Shops' (Reg Taylor's old premises) but this was a long time after the period Sharon's talking about. The two shops I'm talking about are both currently hairdressers' establishments, which brings us to the second part of Sharon's query. Did Larry ever cater for ladies (as a hairdresser, I mean, of course)? I've never thought of him as a Ladies hairdresser. Anything but, in fact.
Any thoughts from anyone?


Original Facebook Feedback:

Maureen Condra :
There was one by the church when Helen Gillet and I were about 13 (Heathcote's? - ed) and there was one across from The Vaults but i seem to think there was one next to The Vaults many years ago Not too sure about that I have a hard time remembering nowadays. Ha Ha.

Geraldine Williams:
I have it on good authority (my husband!) that Larry set up shop in what was once part of the Bill Jones' complex after Horace Wright closed his barber's shop in the front room of one of the terraced houses on the right-hand side of the British Legion. Larry did indeed cut girls' hair - as long as it was a variation on a boyish style! The secret, apparently, was to check whether Larry's bike was propped up outside the shop - otherwise he was in the Legion.....!

Sharon Mather
Geraldine, do you know if there used to be a lady who cut hair in Larry's? My Mum used to have many perms and I can't image Larry himself doing this? Or was there another ladies hairdressers near Larry's in 1977?

 Carole Hughes

Larry is still cutting hair at the same place to this day :)

Dave Roberts:
He is. And he still props his bike up outside the shop. (Comment from Facebook)

 Sharon Mather:

Thanks Maureen. So you might have a memory of a cafe there too? OMG I've just had a thought, the Vaults didn't used to be a cafe before it was a pub, did it?

Dave Roberts:
I wonder if the cafe Maureen remembers from the age of 13 was Heathcote's in Lewin Street, more or less where the library is now? And Sharon, no -The Vaults was always a pub going back many years, possibly even to the 19th Century.(Comment from facebook).

Geraldine Williams :
I don't know Sharon. I occasionally used to take my son there for a haircut and vaguely remember a couple of dryers on one wall but no lady stylist. Perhaps Larry was a trained hairdresser......

          Carole Hughes
I remember a lady called Phyllis who did hair down Lewin Street somewhere before she opened a little shop at the bottom of St Ann's Avenue.

Maureen Condra :

No it wasn't Heathcote's. This one was just past the church and the Town Hall. And The Vaults has always been a pub; My Uncle Jim went there every night. The cafe was across from the butchers shop and the bank. When I get time I will go through my pics and see if i can find them all. Does any one remember Drinkwaters shop? It was a shoe shop near the movie house, across the street
I just love going over old times and places.

          Sharon Mather:

So do I Maureen. I'd talk about this stuff all day :-)

Geraldine Williams said: My in-house info source says that there was a cafe in the shops on the Town Hall side of Hightown, run at one time by George Cartledge. Yes, I remember Charlie Drinkwater's.

Maureen Condra : Yes me too. Yet, when you live there, you always say 'I need to leave this place there's nothing here'. But it's always nice to go back and see everything. I went to St Marys school up near Station Bridge and near Moreton's Farm. It is always fun to remember.

Dave Roberts:
I'm glad you're finding this 'Middlewich Diary' of interest. There are plenty of books and websites telling the 'official' history of Middlewich, but we're more interested in day to day life - the shops, the pubs, the churches and factories and how people lived and worked in days gone by.
Maureen, we'd love to see (and, hopefully, publish) some of your photos in due course.

Maureen Condra
I was working at John Tyler College until I retired and the Head of the College was Dr Ray Drinkwater and his family came from England. I had pics of everything but that shop. If you have one or know anyone who has one, please put it on here and i can run a copy off for him.

Maureen Condra : Yes i thought there was one there. Helen and I had been chopping sticks and selling them all day, and we went for a bowl of tomato soup. We throught we were something eating out! That was our first time, and we still have a good laugh over it.

Geraldine Williams :
Dave, re: Maureen's request for a picture of Drinkwater's shoe shop. It's the shop to the right hand side of Barclay's Bank. I think it's a charity shop now, but I'm not sure as I don't get into Wheelock Street very often. Does it feature in any of your slides?

Dave Roberts:
Sadly we don't have a picture of this shop when it was a shoe shop. In the 70s we mostly concentrated on buildings we knew (or thought) were going to be knocked down. If anyone has a photo of Drinkwater's shoe shop we'd be glad to have a copy.

John Capper
I started going to Larry's around 1985 when I still had hair worth cutting and back then he definitely cut ladies hair. There were a row of 2 or 3 1960s style chairs with dryers built in and I remember seeing an elderly lady sat under the dryer once while I had my hair cut. The dryers have gone now but I think the chairs are still there.

Dave Roberts
So there you go. It's amazing what you can find out when you ask the right people. I'd certainly never associated Larry with ladies' hairdressing. So that's part of Sharon's original query answered. How about the 'Cafe near the Vaults', though? We've established that there was one on Hightown at one time, but that would be long gone (along with a lot of Hightown) by 1977. We await developments. (original comment from Facebook)

Geraldine Williams
I've just re-visited your 'Rebuilding of The Vaults' picture which also shows part of Johnson's the Cleaners. Wasn't there an adjoining shop which had a chequered life and could have been the elusive cafe at one time?

Dave Roberts replied:
I think you may be right. That's why I said in my intro to the 'Notes & Queries item: 'I think the most likely location for Sharon's cafe is one of the two shops next to the Vaults which, as we've seen, has been all kinds of things over the years'. I've an idea that the shop next to The Vaults was Johnson's Cleaners for quite a long time, so that narrows it down to the other one, which has only recently settled down to become yet another hairdressing establishment.
4th August 2011

Here are the two shops we are talking about. Next to 'The Vaults' is the premises of J et Cie Hairdressers (at one time Johnson's The Cleaners) and to its left is another hairdressing establishment. It's Razor Sharp (which is more than can be said for the photo). This shop is our best guess as Sharon's cafe all those years ago in 1977. Does anyone remember? 

Facebook feedback from 4th August 2011:
·                                 Geraldine Williams 
Could I just correct your comment about the doctors' surgery in Wheelock Street. It was only Drs Neil and Graham there - Dr Brown had a surgery with Dr Jones on the opposite side of Wheelock Street in the large house between Chisholm's (formerly Pennington's) newsagents and what was once Moss' Furniture Store (is it now a restaurant?). Mr Shirley then had a veterinary practice there when the doctors moved to their new surgery in Leadsmithy Street.

Dave Roberts Thanks for that, Geraldine. Something I didn't know. I think the large house which you refer to is called Ivy House and has its street door bricked up? Chisholms, btw, was owned by my Aunt Evelyn (Ridgway) up until the mid-sixties.

Geraldine Williams Yes, of course! A lovely lady.

Facebook Feedback from 5th August 2011:

o                                                        Sandra Dean Dave, the cafe you mentioned was where Nick has his hairdressers now, I remember going in when I was about 12 or 13 so it was probably round about 1977/78 and having the best pastie, not sure but i think the chap that owned it was called Mike,

Dave Roberts Hi Sandra. Is that the shop in our photo? i.e. Razor Sharp?
§                                                                                 Sandra Dean: That's the one. We used to write the names of our current beaux in ketchup on our pasties. That's why the memory is so vivid. The guy that owned it had dark hair and a not so white apron

Dave Roberts Great. Thanks a lot for that Sandra. Mystery solved!
§                                                                                 Sandra Dean A pleasure to help.