Friday 24 June 2011


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.


  1. Two Comments re Hairdressers.
    When my father Cliff Astles came home from the 2nd World War after 6 YEARS away !!!, he built a shop at the bottom of St Anns Avenue for my mother Phyllis Astles, to do ladies hair. Her younger sister Gwen was married to Alec Norris, and Gwen also worked in the Hairdressering Shop. Gwens eldest son LARRY served in the British Army (some time after )as a "tanker" in Germany,but was trained as a hairdresser on leaving the army.He has worked at his shop since that time and did both ladies and gents hair, but now only ladies, as his lady customers have long since passed away :(
    My mother Phyllis moved the hairdressing business down to Lewin Street(oppersite Niddris)in the late 50's. Both my sisters Lynn and Kay worked at the shop. When my mother finished the hairdresers business, she let Larry have her hairdryers and the seats (still at Larry's)and the elderly customers of mothers then went to Larry's to have their hair done, in the styles of the mothers time.Hence, for a short time Larry did both ladies and gents hair :).
    The info regarding the cafe' is correct. it was next door but one, to the Vaults. However, it was not a cafe' for very long and in fact was deralict for quite some time.

  2. Further to my previous info, re the Ladies Hairdressers. My mother Phyllis Astles (Buckley)moved from the shop behind Maults Chip Shop, on Booth Lane and at the bottom of St Annes Avenue to a shop on Lewin Street, late 50's. The shop was then used by my mother Phyllis, Kay and Lynn (daughters)for quite a number of years. Ladies hairdressing continued there for some years until the girls were married and mother retired.The contents of the shop were given to Larry (seats and hairdryers etc) which Larry used for some time at his hairdressers shop opposite CASHES GARAGE (was then). He did mainly male hairdressing, but did some of my mothers elder female clients until they all passed. Larry still continues to do male hair at the same shop on Lewin Street / Booth Lane.

  3. Dave, do we have any photos of Middlewich that show the ICE CREAM PARLOR that was situated in Wheelock Street, where the Pet Shop used to be ?


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