Saturday 25 November 2017


This slide is so badly damaged as to be almost unusable but it's included because, like all the others, it has a tale to tell.

It's the 'Urban District Of Middlewich' road sign which once stood in King Street, close to the Dane Bridge. It was photographed in 1972, when the old Middlewich UDC had just two years to go before being absorbed into the 'District Of Daneborough' (Congleton, to you and me).

The sign has a very passable picture of the parish church on the left, and two 'Middlewich witches' top left and top right. And that's where the sign hit problems when some people complained  that it showed the left hand witch 'flying over the church'.

Someone took it upon him (or her) self to paint out the witches, and you can just make out the marks where they've been re-instated.

The words 'superstitious nonsense' spring to mind.

The 'Middlewich Witch' thing is, as far as we know, a simple pun on the similarity between the words wich, wych, or wyche and the word witch, and nothing more.

Something similar happened many years later when I was involved with local radio station Witch FM in Crewe. Word reached us from Middlewich that the same complaints had been made about our use of the word witch.

More superstitious nonsense.

And while we're on the subject, opinion seems to differ as to whether, as we have all always been told, the suffix 'wich' denotes a town connected with salt.

Some say that it simply means 'town' and that's why there are numerous wiches around the country with no connection to the salt industry.

Again, this could merely a coincidence brought about by the similarity between 'wich' and 'wych'. 
The latter word really does mean salt, as in 'Wych-house'.

This was originally published on Facebook on the 28th May 2011.

Here's the original FB feedback...

Sharon Mather Interesting stuff about the witches. I've never heard of this before. How funny! I was taught by Mr O'Neill in the 3rd year at Middlewich Comprehensive (1987-ish) that 'wich' means 'salt town' and that every single town that has 'wich' in its name is a salt town.

Dave Roberts He's not really to blame. Everyone was taught the same, and it's only recently that opinions have been revised. It's probably not as simple as I make it sound, either because Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich have indeed always been known as the 'three wiches'. Perhaps they should be Northwych, Middlewych and Nantwych?

Gaynor McClelland What about Winsfordwich? We have salt too!

Dave Roberts Yes indeed. Winsford had more salt-works than anywhere else, lining the Weaver Valley. And of course the pit head for the salt mine is there - on the road to Moulton actually.It's been enclosed by a boring industrial building now, but at one time you could watch the pit wheels turning. It looked like a bit of a coal mine in the middle of a Cheshire field.

First published 30th June 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 25th November 2017

  • No comments:

    Post a Comment

    Leave your comments here. Please note that comments are moderated and, if they are particularly relevant, may be incorporated into the original diary entry.