Wednesday 29 June 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


  1. On Facebook Geraldine Williams said:
    I can remember standing with my Granny one evening at the bus-stop between the two Avenues and being really scared of the racket made by the limestone tumbling down that shoot and, indeed, by the whole aspect of the works which seemed huge and lit up the night sky. That noise must have been part and parcel of living in the Booth Lane/Avenues area and probably the inhabitants found it difficult to sleep once the works closed down!

  2. Now I look at that signpost again (it's in the bottom right hand corner) it looks to me more like a wooden structure than a cast iron one.

  3. Geraldine. I know what you mean about the works being scary. Middlewich is unusual in having industry cheek by jowl with houses. In many towns, even in Victorian and earlier times, the factory areas and housing areas were usually quite separate (although lack of town planning meant some intermingling). Imagine if someone wanted to build a chemical works in the middle of a residential area now. Mind, you, such a situation would never arise these days. (original comment from Facebook)

  4. On Facebook Andy Roscoe said:
    Sorry Dave but I beg to differ about factory areas and housing being kept separate. during the Industrial Revolution, especially in the mill towns of Lancashire. Jerry built terraces were constructed, as tied properties, right next to the mills by the owners as a way of keeping a loyal and close to hand workforce.

  5. You're absolutely right, Andy. What I had in mind was the situation they had in places like Nantwich where the salt works were concentrated in one part of the town or Sandbach where the salt pans were out in Wheelock (even today, Wheelock has a family resemblance to Middlewich, with lots of little salt-workers' cottages). Huddersfield had its 'mill district' away from residential areas (which, incidentally, has left it a legacy of good bus services and a lot of derelict mills). But, yes, in many cases the factory owners called the tune and the workers had no choice but to live in the houses provided. (original comment from Facebook)

  6. On Facebook, Geraldine Williams said:

    Don't get me started on Winnington (ICI-ville!).......


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