Tuesday 12 January 2016


Lens of Sutton
We originally dated this photograph as pre-1923, because of the 'Middlewich, LNWR' inscription at the top of Allan Earl's copy of the photo (see below).
However, when we re-published this Diary entry in January 2016 Pat Suter sent us
the following message which clearly places the photo somewhat later than that, based on the rolling stock which can be seen in the photograph.

She says:

My husband is part owner of the Lens of Sutton photographic collection. He thinks this is a copy negative from the collection which is widely available to people to purchase. The LNWR notation on the top right of the original merely refers to the pre-grouping owner. The wagons that can be seen are LMS sliding door vans built 1930 onwards and he therefore thinks the photograph is 1930 onwards. He has other negatives from this and other collections in the 1960's which he would be happy to make available.

Many thanks to Pat and her husband for clarifying this for us - Ed

Blow-up of part of the photo showing a loco on the headshunt which gave access to the shunting yard behind New King Street, Garfitt Street, Dane Street and Lichfield Street Lens of Sutton

On the left of the photo is the goods yard where block and loose salt from Seddon's Works in Pepper Street was brought by horse and cart to be loaded into vans and open wagons.
Although the station appears, at first glance, to be quiet, if you look closely at the photo you can see a locomotive at work on the left hand track, between the water tower and signal box. This track was known as a 'headshunt' and terminated in a pair of buffers on the Northwich side of the King Street road bridge. The goods yard connected to this line, meaning that assembled goods trains which needed to head in the Northwich direction would first have to travel up the headshunt and reverse into the station before moving forward again and travelling over the crossover onto the single line for Northwich. This crossover can just be made out just below the locomotive.
Conversely, trains for Crewe (and Stoke via the Sandbach-Alsager 'salt line') would have to reverse up the headshunt and then come down through the station to the crossover for Sandbach situated just beyond the Holmes Chapel Road bridge. This connection is still in place, although the 'salt siding' which also connected to it and once ran south from Middlewich to serve Seddon's/Simpson's salt works and ICI Middlewich has gone.
Shunting of the many and varied types of freight vehicle which Middlewich station handled was complicated and, to some, endlessly fascinating.
The building on the extreme left, above the down-line  station building, is the goods shed where all sorts of commodities, including bagged and loose salt, would be loaded and unloaded to and from open wagons and box vans. The open wagon on the line leading into the goods shed has SEDDONS sign-written onto it in white.
To the right of the station where industry and housing now dominate, nothing can be seen but quiet pastureland.
Finally, just above the water tower can be seen some kind of white 'skeletal' structure. Is this a building under construction? If so, has anyone any idea what building it could possibly be?

Here's the original postcard version of the photo, as supplied by Allan Earl, which  has the 'MIDDLEWICH LNWR' inscription on it, making  us think that the scene must be of the station before LMS days. As Pat Sutton points out, the LMS rolling stock to be seen in the station yard means that the picture must have been taken after 1930 Lens of Sutton

                   THE DODGER 1959
                   MIDDLEWICH STATION 2005
                   MIDDLEWICH STATION 1972
                  MIDDLEWICH STATION EARLY 1990s

First published 28th September 2011
Re-published and amended 12th January 2016 with improved photo (courtesy of Paul Hurley) and additional text.

Feedback from the 'Middlewich Diary' Facebook group:

Geraldine Williams I was comparing this shot with the 1968 photo to see if St Mary's Church and School had been built (about the turn of the century) to date it, but unfortunately this one doesn't show as much of the station buildings.

Dave Roberts It's an odd photo, really. There's too much sky and not enough station, which makes me wonder if part of the lower area of the picture has 'disappeared' at some stage. Perhaps there's a more complete version somewhere?

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