Friday 9 December 2016


by Dave Roberts

We're in the very heart of the town today and back in 1969.
On the extreme left is the war memorial in its original position (despite everything, it has never moved very far). The 'W' on the extreme right is, of course, the first letter of WESTMINSTER BANK, outside which we all stood to wait for the North-Western Bus to Northwich, and, to the left of that, is what was once a showpiece; Fitton's butcher's shop, which later became Vernon's. The interior of this 1920s shop was decorated with fine hand-painted Italian tiles which the Middlewich Heritage Society fought hard to save, to no avail. The shop suffered the indignity of becoming a video hire shop and is now (of course) an Indian takeaway.
Efforts have been made to cover up the exterior tiling with cheap painted boarding, which has never worked and always looks awful.
To the left of this now ruined edifice is Brockley's which sold wallpaper and decorating supplies and later moved to premises in Wheelock Street, opposite where Temptations is now.
Note that Hightown was one-way in those days, but 'the other way round'; hence the bus-stop outside the bank.
I suppose it goes without saying that the buildings on the left (with the obvious exception of the church) were sacrificed to make way for first the much-hated 'piazza' and now the 'amphitheatre'. 
It's not clear on this particular photograph, but the sign on the butcher's shop says J.A. FITTON & SONS, and it was still in use as a butcher's shop in the 1980s under the ownership of E & G VERNON.


      This photo was first published on Facebook on 16th May 2011. 

      The original feedback is below:

      • Geraldine Williams Fitton's was very grand for a butcher's shop. There was a lady cashier in a cubicle at the rear of the shop and payments were put in an overhead canister sent direct to the cashier, who then sent the change back to the counter in the same way.
        16 May 

      • Colin Derek Appleton Brockleys !!!! I remember that being open and the butchers shop too
        16 May 

      • Geraldine Williams The end shop on the left-hand side was a chemists (Co-op I think) at one time and Mrs Hall (nee Braur - also Girl Guide Leader) was the dispenser.
        16 May

        Originally published 20th July 2011
        Reformatted and re-published 9th December 2016


  1. I had moved out of Middlewich in 1965 and came back in 2000. My memory is that Brockleys shop building was an automated video/dvd shop and not the butchers or, has there been two video shops over the years?
    During the early 60's I worked at Pegrams grocery store which is just out of this shot and opposite St Michaels. I drove a small Ford Thames van delivering customers groceries. I can find no mention here of Pegrams shop nor Dawsons Music shop on Lewin Street. I am also interested in seeing any photos of the row of cottages at the junction of Booth Lane and Warmingham Lane which were demolished sometime after 1966 or later.

  2. Bill, Many thanks for your comments, and your interest. Yes, Brockley's was some kind of video shop at one time - it operated round-the-clock and some kind of machine was installed for people to check videos in and out after hours. But Vernon's/Fitton's was a video shop before that. It was called (I think) 'Titles' Was Pegram's on Hightown? I seem to remember the name, but not where it was. Was it anything to do with Hulme's? We have mentioned Densem's record shop in Lewin Street in passing. It ended up as the Square One hardware shop and was demolished around the same time as the CofE Infants School. I'm always intrigued by the Booth Lane/Warmingham Lane junction, where it's still possible to make out the old road alignment. I haven't any photos of the cottages which were once there. If anyone has any, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

  3. Pegrams was one of the shops opposite the old Town Hall. I think it is the one now occupied by The Cheshire Royal Indian Restaurant. Pegrams used one of the garages at the back to park their small Ford Thames 5cwt van which was accessed by the side of The Kings Arms on Queen Street.
    The row of cottages that stood on Booth Lane by then junction of Warmingham Lane/Booth Lane were Boatmens cottages orginally (or so I was told). In the early 1960's,Ernie Paxton and his daughter Josie lived in one and the Jinx family lived in another. I remember them well because the cottage sat about 12 inches lower than the road and often flooded. A length of stout railing fronted the row of cottages at the kerbside. Yes you can still see the old Warmingham Lane road surface in that triangle of ground there. In the early 1960's, Long Lane South did not exist yet as Long Lane itself started at Manor Lane (off St Anns Road) and went over the canal and straight across the Hayhurst Avenue round-a-bout and finished at the end of the row of houses just before Rutland Drive. My parents had Chris Earl build a new house for them at 27 Long Lane which was right by the bridge/canal and our family moved in there during 1962. I was just 17 and, at that time, thought Middlewich was a place that God built and then forgot about it. Blink whilst driving though and you'd miss it. How wrong I was.
    If anyone has any old maps of Middlewich through the years, I for one would love to view them. It would help to locate old building and places more accurately. And what do I think of Middlewich now? I wish I had never left her.

  4. anne partington4 April 2021 at 20:53

    Looking at the old photos- was Brockleys a paining and decorators shop? next to Lathams clothes shop- Georgina (Gina) Latham was a school
    friend. The Co-op I remember and upstairs (toys?) and a chemist and food downstairs .
    Next shop on the same side a Shoe shop, then Samuels -ironmongers Elizabeth Samuel - my best friend back then. Then next to that Taylors newsagents and gifts and toys.
    I lived there from 1963-1970 in 4 New King Street next to the Catholic Church and School. and then 1976-1982? ish. Dad-James William , mum Alma, Sister Janet and brothers Ian and Malcolm. Lots of fond memories. Thanks for the photos.


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