Saturday 31 December 2011


Cliff Astles
Cliff Astles writes:
The photos above  have been selected for a Cheshire Life article to encourage  readers to submit their own 2012 photos to the magazine's on-line readers' photo gallery. My own photo is at top right.
There are a number of categories for you to enter your photo into, with quality prizes for local and UK wide competition check it out !!!

With today's quality digital camera it is now fairly easy to capture that 'special photo'.
Make sure you sign up today to the on-Line Cheshire Life Magazine and show off your own photographic work, and have the chance to win.

You only WIN, if you ENTER!


Wednesday 28 December 2011


© Phillip Shales 2011     All rights reserved
with acknowledgments to Kerry Fletcher and Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council
by Dave Roberts
The interesting thing about this photograph from the Phillip Shales collection and found in a file marked '1949 Carnival' is its location.
When we were looking at the Queen of what turned out to be the 1952 Carnival in this photo, I wondered if the two girls in the car were the same train bearers from that earlier photo, although even I had a vague feeling that 'the dresses were different'.
Chris Koons soon put me right: 'Different dresses and head dresses, and the girls in the second photo are at least six or seven years younger than the girls in the first photo'.
So that told me.
But it's those houses in the background which intrigued me. They looked familiar, and yet I couldn't work out the location. 
Again Chris Koons came to the rescue: 'My Dad, David Sant, recalls that the field behind his house in St Ann's Avenue used to be used for Carnival events, too. 
Looking at the present-day St Ann's Avenue on Google Earth I would say this matches exactly. It looks to have been taken from approximately where Wardle Mews is now'.
Daniel Preston agreed: 'I would say that the houses in the background are in St Ann's Avenue. We used to call that field Back Field.
(As a digression, Daniel went on to talk about the anomaly which still exists today at both ends of St Ann's Avenue: "The street sign attached to the first house on either side says 'ST ANN'S AVENUE', while the  sign at the bottom of the road says 'ST ANNE'S AVENUE'"
Daniel wonders if this is similar to the Lawrence Gardens/Lawrence Avenue anomaly, but I've always put it down to a simple administrative error by whichever council was responsible and that it's never been put right because of the perceived ' who cares -any old thing will do for Middlewich' attitude.
The correct spelling is ST ANN's without the E, as in St Ann's Road).
Susan Nugent agreed that the houses shown in our photo are in St Ann's Avenue: 'My Nan and Grandad lived at no 1 '.
And Dawn Hunter had good reason to remember living in the area: 'My Mum and Dad and I lived at number 36 from the time I was three years old. When I was five I got knocked down on Kings Lock bridge by a Rolls Royce.'
Robert Sheckleston also confirmed  the location: 'Yes, that's Back Field, at the rear of St Ann's Avenue. When I lived  in Kitfield Avenue I played football on the Back Field many times.'
Margaret Williams, who came up with the correct information and dates for the first photo - of the Queen and her retinue in the Bullring - says, '(the newspaper report) has no reference regarding the two young girls in the car, but if the procession started at Back Field, maybe they were a party from a nearby town and were waiting to join the procession.'
Geraldine Williams added: 'There seems to be a lot of hanging about going on in this latest picture, and it looks as though there's a boys' band of some sort, as well as the attendants in the car. Everyone else is in Middlewich drab (coats and headscarves), as they are in the Bullring photograph, so it mustn't have been a typical July day. The Carnival Queen and her retinue seem to have travelled on a float. I think it's the same event (i.e. the 1952 Carnival - Ed) as the newspaper states that the procession set off from the Avenues but it must have been a circuitous route down St Ann's Road for the procession to come down Wheelock Street and then up to Station Field (aka ICI Field - Ed)'
So in conclusion, this would appear to be a photograph taken on the 26th July 1952 at Back Field, behind St Ann's Avenue, as the Carnival procession was getting ready to  take to the streets of Middlewich, and most probably shows two girls from a neighbouring town.
Incidentally, Wardle Lock Cottage would be somewhere behind the camera, standing in splendid isolation many years before being surrounded by the modern housing of Wardle Mews and Waters Edge Mews
Speaking personally, I'm tickled to death that we now have the actual date of both this and the 'Queen' photograph, because it shows us Middlewich as it was when I was born just two months later in September 1952. 

Tuesday 27 December 2011


© Phillip Shales 2011     All rights reserved
with acknowledgments to Kerry Fletcher and Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council

by Dave Roberts

Note: This photograph was found in a file marked 1949 Carnival on a computer at Middlewich Town Council, and was originally published with that date. Subsequent information contributed by Middlewich Diary readers has enabled us to establish not only the correct year but also the actual date of the photograph and the name of the Carnival Queen and her escort.
A classic example of just what the Middlewich Diary can achieve. We have preserved the Facebook Feedback as part of this entry to illustrate how the process of revising our information works. Many thanks to all our contributors for  their efforts -Ed.

Here's the revised version of the text:
We're back in Middlewich Town Centre on Carnival Day, Saturday 16th July 1952, to witness the arrival of the Middlewich Carnival Queen, Jacqueline Davies, with her two train bearers.
The gentleman with the rosette is Mr G Moses*, Chairman of the Carnival Committee. 
The Queen is heading towards the War Memorial  which was at that time sited between Hightown and Lower Street, to lay a wreath, as was customary at carnivals at that time, while the procession itself is about to veer off down Lower Street.
The Carnival Queen, of course, is not to be confused with King and Queen Carnival.
 I don't know if these two semi-knockabout, almost Pantomime Dame-like figures  took part in carnivals at the time of our photo, but they certainly appeared during later Carnivals in the 70s and were always played by the more extrovert and ebullient members of rugby clubs and the like.
Our Carnival Queen, though, as you might expect, has more of the look of the young Queen Elizabeth, who had ascended to the throne on the 6th February, and was to be crowned on the 2nd of June in the following year.

* Margaret Williams, in the comments below, has his name as 'Mr G Moss' and, particularly in Middlewich, this does sound a more likely name. Can anyone tell us which is correct?

(Bear in mind that, when this picture was first published, we were under the impression that it showed a scene from the 1949 Carnival. We didn't know the name of the Carnival Queen, or the name of her escort [the man with the rosette]. We did, however, surmise that he might be 'the chairman of the Carnival Committee'. 
We deduced that the Queen was heading for the War Memorial, because the crowd seemed to be parting to allow her through, but didn't know about the custom of Carnival Queens laying wreaths. We thought, though, that she might have 'made a speech' there, which she may well have done. Finally, we changed 'Princess Elizabeth' to 'Queen Elizabeth' and revised her dates -Ed)


Facebook feedback:

Margaret Williams: I think the Carnival Queen in the picture may be called Jacqueline Davies and at that time the Carnival Queen used to lay a wreath on the War Memorial before heading up to what was known as I think station fields (ICI fields) for the grand procession

Geraldine Williams: I thought it looked like Jacqueline Davies, too, but she would only have been aged 10-11 in 1949. Did she have an older sister?
If you’re correct about the Station Field venue and if it is Jacqueline she wouldn’t have had far to go home as she lived just over Station Bridge! I’d noticed on a previous pic that the crowd seemed to be separating to form a pathway to the Cenotaph, so that makes sense if there was a wreath-laying ceremony.
If it is Jacqueline, I used to be so scared of her, as she was very vocal in the daily exchange of insults when children from the Council School (as it was called) encountered St. Mary’s children on the Town Bridge at home time.
I think they called us ‘Catholic Bulldogs’, but I never understood why……!

Dave Roberts: How very different from the home life of our own dear Queen…

Geraldine Williams: Tee hee!

Margaret Williams: I have found a dilapidated cutting from the Middlewich Chronicle, which I wasn’t sure I still had, and it confirms the young lady is, indeed, Jacqueline Davies, but the date on the cutting is Saturday 26th July 1952. Her escort is a Mr G Moss, chairman of the Carnival Committee.
The procession started at The Avenues and arrived at ICI Field for the crowning ceremony.

Geraldine Williams: Clever you! That would explain a lot.

Margaret Williams: The article in the Chronicle actually states that 1952 was the third annual carnival in the town, which would imply that 1949 was the first and
might explain the incorrect reference on the files.

(reformatted 29/12/2011)


Photo from Robin Lord's CLIKPICS site 'East of Eden'. Used with permission
by Dave Roberts
Here's a nice seasonal picture showing a little of the natural beauty which surrounds us here in our 'pretty town, seated in a valley' in the centre of Cheshire.
Coalpit Lane connects Stanthorne Crossroads near Wimboldsley with the Middlewich to Northwich/Winsford road, the turning at the Middlewich end being in Chester Road,  a few yards from the bridge over the River Wheelock and  close to the Town and Borough council boundary.
The lane provides a useful (too useful, some would say, in these days of 'rat runs') alternative route between Stanthorne and Middlewich.
Another junction at the top of the hill similarly provides an alternative route to Winsford.
There was always great excitement when the little single-decker Crosville bus which took us all from the bus company's garage in Wheelock Street to Wimboldsley School every day, was diverted, usually because of some problem with the Nantwich Road aqueduct, to take us along this route which itself crosses the SUC Middlewich Branch canal via an overbridge in a very picturesque location.
One part of Middlewich I have never seen, even in photographs, is that stretch of the River Wheelock between Nantwich Road (where it runs through an aqueduct under the canal said to be the twin of the familiar Nantwich Road one) and the Wheelock Bridge in Chester Road.
And I wonder if anyone took any pictures of Wimboldsley School during its recent and sudden expansion?
The establishment is now at least three times bigger than it was in the 1950s, a sure sign of its enduring usefulness and popularity.

Saturday 24 December 2011


by Daniel Preston

In this seasonal tale by Daniel Preston we've decided to leave the local Cheshire dialect, as spoken by Ian Sant, intact because in this case it's almost completely intelligible, even to those unlucky enough to come from outside our area.
The Cheshire dialect, as spoken in Middlewich, is a mixture of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, with bits borrowed from all over the place.
Actually, our greatest contribution to the English language seems to have come about when we took the shortened definite article of Yorkshire and Lancashire, as in 't'' and 'th'' and dispensed with it altogether:
Hence 'goin' shop' and 'goin' Northwich' etc.
On Facebook just the other day one Middlewich lady, wishing to inform her friends that she had had a slight accident on the icy pavements, did so with the short and pithy comment:
'Just rucked it goin' shop' -Ed.

 In those far off days of only forty-odd years ago, when Christmas was Christmas and coffee without milk was called black coffee; in the days when I was a paper lad, we used to get a Christmas card and a small gift of money from the customers to thank us for a job well done throughout the year.

It was Ian Sant who taught me the ins and outs of attaining said bonus.
'In th’ days before Christmas,' he said, 'It’s best that, when thar goes up th’ path, thar stamps tha feet and  meks a racket so’s they know thar’s comin’.”
 Thus alerted of your arrival someone would come out of the house to give you your treat.
There was always a Christmas card and usually some money in an envelope marked ‘Paper Lad’.
Sometimes it was paper money, like a ten bob note, other times it was coins, like two bob or half-a-crown.
Sometimes, if you’d encouraged the dog to shred the newspaper, it was ‘dash all’.

On one occasion, after I had stomped my way up the path in the prescribed manner, the lady of the house came out, an envelope in her hand.
“You don’t have to make all that racket,” she said. “you’ll get your Christmas bonus.”
“It’s ‘cos me feet are cold,” I said, looking embarrassed.

She took her paper and handed over the envelope; Christmas card and bonus.

At the top of Spital Hill, on the left hand side as you go towards Winsford, is the house where the Carnegies lived.
It was (and is) a big house with a gravel drive.
The Carnegies were well off and I think they had horses stabled there.

Ian Sant had advised me that, at Christmas, it was best to ride in there like the clappers and put the bike into a slide.
'If thar comes off thee bike,' he said, 'Carnegie’s daughter will come running out, calling thee a poor boy and taking thee inside fer ‘ot chocolate ‘n’ pamperin’.'

Apparently this had happened to him the year before and he said that Carnegie’s daughter was a cracker.
I can’t attest to the looks of Carnegie’s daughter as I never did meet her.
However, I did ride into the gravel drive like the clappers in the days coming up to Christmas. I didn’t come off my bike, against my nature that, but I did make a lot of noise on that gravel.
I got my Christmas bonus as well, paper money from the Carnegies, but it wasn’t the daughter that handed it to me.
I don’t know if that house is still there, it probably is, but maybe surrounded by mews cottages or some other such symbol of the modern age.  
© Daniel Preston 2011
Mistaken identity: Stanthorne Hall
Daniel Preston 

I looked on google street views and went up to the top of Spittal Hill. There is a nameplate at the opening to the drive where the Carnegie's lived. It is Stanthorne Hall. I'm sure that many readers on here remember Mrs. Mac (I think her name was Mrs. McCrystal) that worked at Reg Taylor's. She put the newspapers together for each of the paperboys and wrote the names of the intended recipients on the top. The newspapers would be put together in the order of delivery as well.

  • Editor's note: We thought at first that the house the Carnegies lived in may have been Stanthorne Hall which is a very substantial house on the Winsford Road, but this house is much too large to be the one in question.
    See the comment below from Geraldine Williams.
  • Geraldine Williams I don't think the Carnegies lived at Stanthorne Hall, Dave. The Dalby family lived there during the '50s and it's on the right hand side much further along the Winsford Road. I'm pretty sure there's a grand house with a drive, set in a lot of greenery literally at the top of Spittal Hill on the left.

  • Dave Roberts Hmmm....I did wonder. Stanthorne Hall seems to be on a little too grand a scale to be the house in question. As always, this will have to be a case of actually going and having a look, armed with new digital camera.

    Editor's Note: Further internet research from Daniel himself seems to point to Bostock House, which is on the left at the very top of Spital Hill and, at the time of publication (December 2011) is up for sale. We hope to obtain a photo of the house soon.
(reformatted 26/12/2011)

Thursday 22 December 2011


by Daniel Preston
This  incident took place around 1964 when I was a newspaper boy.  I was still at school in those days. and  worked part-time for Reg Taylor, who had a newsagents shop in Wheelock Street where  the Choklat Bar is in the present day.
I took the round over from Ian Sant and  had morning and evening deliveries which paid ten shillings each (50p in decimal currency). I also had Sunday morning deliveries, which paid four shillings (20p).
Thursday evening was the hardest round, as that is when the Middlewich Guardian and Middlewich Chronicle came out. 
Also the Radio Times  (which had the listings for B.B.C. TV and radio) and the T.V. Times (which had the listings for ITV - in our area Granada TV during the week, and ABC Television at weekends). Everybody and his dog wanted the extra tonnage of papers on Thursday evening - one dog especially.
St. Anns Road
, just before where the Lily Works was then and the Newton Court care home is now, there is a fork in the road. 
One house  I made deliveries to was on Newton Heath, the street that angled off to the right from
St. Ann's Road
. On my evening rounds, I would come along
Wheelock Street
, then up
Darlington Street
, then turn left at the top and go to this particular house. 
There was a dog that lived there, not a big dog, but one well trained by his master. Every evening when I slid the paper into the letterbox, the dog would grab it in his jaws and snatch it from my hands and the letterbox would slam shut with a loud clap.
Meanwhile, the dog would be scampering off, presumably to lay the newspaper dutifully into his master’s lap. I can just see said master, sitting back in his armchair, smoking his pipe and sipping a snifter of brandy.
He would, of course, be wearing a heavy duty bathrobe and slippers, feet up on a stool.
“Good boy!” he would say, picking up the papers, “now let’s see what’s on the bally telly tonight.” 
Meanwhile, said ‘Good boy’ would settle in to lie comfortably at his master’s feet while  a roaring fire in the ornate fireplace would bathe the pair in its ruddy glow.
Meanwhile I would be still be out in the pouring rain, on my bike with a ton weight of papers hanging off my shoulder in a great, soggy canvas bag.
After several weeks of the dog grabbing the paper and me not being able to get it through the letterbox before he showed up, I hit on a strategy. 
I would keep hold of the paper until I was good and ready to let go of it and  see how long the dog could hang on. 
You see, I wanted to deliver the paper. 
That meant putting the paper through the letterbox and hearing it hit the mat on the other side of the door with a satisfying thud, not have some mongrel snatch it out of my hands. 
I wasn’t bothered about what the dog did with it afterwards, just as long as he would let me do my job first.
Which brings us to one rainy Thursday night in November 1964.
My bag was full to overloading, already heavy with all the newspapers and TV magazines and made heavier by the rain. 
I had loaded them up in the back of Reg Taylor’s shop and made my way along
Wheelock Street, delivered
 papers on
Darlington Street
 and then  pushed my bike the short distance to the house with the frantic dog.
I leaned my bike by the front gate, opened it,  squelched my way up the path and  pulled out the papers for this house - one of the evening national newspapers, the Middlewich Guardian, the Middlewich Chronicle, the T.V. Times and the Radio Times.
I folded them together with the local papers on the outside. The evening national papers weren’t too thick, but the local ones were and this made a very thick bundle… and the papers were damp, very damp.
I could hear the frantic dog scamper up to the door, eager to retrieve the papers for his master. The papers, all folded together like that, were a tight squeeze for the letterbox at the best of times. Now I had a job to get them through. As soon as they did poke through though, the dog grabbed hold and snatched them in.
However, I did not let go. I snatched them back. The dog didn’t let go either so he snatched them back to his side. I wasn’t having that, not on a night like this. Wet through and letting a dog in carpet slippers have its way? No way! 
I kept hold and snatched the papers back to my side. The dog started to turn nasty, I could hear him  growling. 
He pulled hard, I pulled hard, we both pulled hard together. 
The bundled up newspapers went see-sawing in and out of the letterbox. Of course, the papers on the outside, being wet anyway, were soon torn to sodden shreds. 
I  noticed the mess they were in, so I decided to let the dog have them now. He could trot off to his master while I trotted off down the path.
As I got back on my bike to pedal off to the next house on my rounds, I thought I heard a bewildered, “What the bally ‘ell is this?” from the house of the frantic dog.
It was one of those affairs. By the time I got back to the newsagents, the shredded newspapers were there waiting for me. They were not a pretty sight. A bit like papier-mâché that isn’t quite ready. 
Of course, I blamed it on the dog. “He wouldn’t let go,” I said. “Kept pulling on the papers and wouldn’t let me deliver them.”
 I was told that, in future, maybe I could consider putting the newspapers through the letterbox one at a time.
This would save Mr Taylor from having to consider sacking me. 
No more trouble with the frantic dog after that. First paper in, he snatched it and off he’d go. Before he got back, I’d have the rest through the letterbox and on the mat with a satisfying thunk. 
So we were all happy then and besides, Christmas was coming and I might get a chance to see Carnegie’s daughter.
 Ian Sant had told me that she was a cracker and usually gave the Christmas box to the paper lad.
That, though, is another story...  
© Daniel Preston 2011
...and so's this, albeit a somewhat similar one from Cliff Astles. Not really all that surprising, really. Dogs will be dogs. -ed
by Cliff Astles
Interestingly Daniel's story is almost identical to one of my own.
I was also a Reg Taylor paper boy!
In 1954, when I was 14 years old, I was also delivering papers along St. Ann's Road, where at the house at the bottom of Hannah's Walk I would place the morning papers through the letter box.

At the time the family living at this house had a white terrirer dog which, when he heared me delivering papers, would wait until I placed them into the letter box, take a running leap and tear at the papers.
This went on for some time, and, like Daniel in his  tale I was slighty miffed that the owner would allow his dog to do this.
Therefore, at times I would hold onto the papers until the dog had had his fun, and then put the ripped-to-shreds paper through the letter box so that the dog's owner could try to find anything that might be still readable.
Finally, the dog owner got the message and stopped the dog from being able to do this each day. 

Two satisfied customers - me and the dog owner!
© Cliff Astles 2011
The St Ann's Road house which was home to the1950s  newspaper loving dog
Photo: Cliff Astles
Facebook feedback:

Geraldine Williams There's a definite thread coming through these Tales Daniel. Obviously the Meadow Dairy hadn't asked Reg Taylor for references.......!! haha


Photo: Salt Town Productions 
Can you identify this attractive little corner of Middlewich?
Clue: Quite a few people have seen through my little subterfuge...
Well, of course, everyone saw through it. The photo should really look like this:

Photo Salt Town Productions
It's just that, when I looked at the picture which was actually taken this Autumn and shows Southway, close to the entrance to Tesco's delivery yard, it had a vaguely Edwardian feel to it which I thought could be enhanced by the sepia look. But nobody could really be fooled by the obviously 21st century brick paving, the steel lamp post to the left, or the Tesco Supermarket plant room on the right. Worth a try through.
This view, and many others we've become used to over the last few years, will be obliterated for ever if Tesco's plans for a massive new 35,000 sq ft. store come to fruition. The plans were recommended for acceptance by Middlewich Town Council in late December 2011

Monday 19 December 2011


This Diary Entry was first published on the 19th December 2011

by Dave Roberts

Sixty seven years ago today, in the last full year of World War II, the parishioners of St Mary's Catholic Church, Middlewich, were preparing to find out which of them had won prizes in their Christmas raffle, or draw, or, as this evocative ticket from the Carole Hughes collection rather primly puts it, the Award of Xmas Gifts. Our ticket is no 966. I wonder if we won anything?
The prizes on offer are surprisingly luxurious for a wartime raffle, with the usual bottles of sherry and whisky  and packs of cigarettes augmented by a goose, a duck and a chicken. No turkey, though. In 1944 turkey wasn't the almost universal choice for Christmas dinner it is today.
Most of the prizes for this draw would have been sourced locally, particularly as the war was on, and turkeys were difficult to rear in the north of England as they preferred a warmer climate.
People would have been quite content with a chicken, and whoever won the goose would have been well pleased.
A modern raffle would more than likely have bottles of wine as prizes, but there are none on offer here (unless you count the sherry). The wine-drinking habit for most Britons only caught on quite a few years later, in the sixties.
Quite possibly the box of apples would have come from Derbyshire's orchards and wouldn't have been too highly prized, as a popular Middlewich pastime, still fondly recalled by many people, was 'scrumping' apples from there. Did anyone ever actually buy any apples in those days?
And what is a Number Ten Cocktail? Google the term, and you get all kinds of contradictory answers. 
Probably one of them sophisticated drinks that people in that London drink, though.
And there were a couple of surprises  - or sur-prizes - the English have always loved their puns.
Wouldn't it have been great to win one of those free passes to the cinema - in all likelihood the Alhambra - twice weekly for a month?
I wonder if they were showing that great 1944 hit movie Meet Me In St Louis, starring Judy Garland?Probably not, and that's a shame because it would give us a chance to borrow a wonderful old joke for the occasion:

'How did Meet me In St Louis go in Middlewich?'
'About as well as Meet Me In Middlewich would go in St Louis.'

I heard recently that Judy Garland insisted on changing the words of that evergreen classic Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, which features in the film, because the original first line ran:

'Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it could be your last...'

- hardly the thing to boost wartime morale.

(This story was confirmed in a BBC Radio 4 programme on Christmas Eve 2013)

Finally, you'll note that in the raffle ticket the word 'Xmas' is used throughout.This is sometimes frowned on these days as 'disrespectful' but, in fact, the Christian Church has used an X in that form as a symbol for Christ for centuries.

So there we are. Sorry we didn't win anything.There's always next Christmas.

Facebook feedback:

Geraldine Williams Whoa! Where did they get those prizes from? Didn't they know there was a war on?!! I thought everything would have been ersatz by then! St Mary's Xmas Draw has always been a great feature for as long as I can remember. If any of my children are reading this they will be recalling, in horror, the HOURS spent folding the draw tickets when I became secretary to the St Mary's Christmas Fair (which also incorporated the Draw) Committee. Each ticket had to be folded in a specific way to ensure uniformity (don't ask!) - fold once, fold twice, fold three times, then twist.......!

Published 19th December 2011
Updated 24th December 2013

Sunday 18 December 2011



This event took place sometime around 1965 or 1966. 
At that time I delivered groceries for Meadow Dairy, which was on Wheelock Street opposite to the ‘White Bear’.
The shop and the row of buildings it was part of have long since gone. Some of the buildings in the same row were terraced houses, their front doors opening directly onto the street. I suspect that the Meadow Dairy was at one time a house too as, like the other buildings in the row, it had a garden at the back.
The space where the buildings were is now empty and, at the back, where the gardens were, there is now a row of newer shops.
Back to the Meadow Dairy then.
The Manager was a red-faced portly man by the name of Mister Rolly.
He was a pretty good manager and treated his staff, all women apart from me, well.
I was about sixteen at the time and had this job part-time at  weekends. 
I can’t remember if I was still at school or working at Foden’s in the training school.
I do remember that Nicholas Silver was still winning horse races and that, that year, What a Myth was a favourite in the Grand National (The Grand National, for the benefit of overseas readers, is a four mile steeplechase held at Aintree in Liverpool. Almost everyone in the country has a bet on the race). In fact, I think I had a shilling each way on What A Myth.
My duties included keeping the stock room tidy, taking the rubbish out, burning it in a firepit in the garden at the back and replenishing the stock room.
I also had to clean some of the paraphernalia associated with running a grocery shop.
My main job, however, involved delivering groceries on one of those bikes with a great basket on the front. 
The rear wheel was twenty-six inches in diameter, very robust, and had one small gear; the front wheel was of similar construction. but much smaller in diameter, so as to make room for the basket. 
The seat had big springs under it and the handlebars were of the sit-up and beg type. 
The bike, unlike butcher’s bikes which were black, was painted green.
If you took it on a cyclo-cross race, you wouldn’t be lifting it over too many five bar gates, I can tell you.
In those days, near what is now Long Lane South was a dirt track across a football field. It was used as a short cut from Sutton Lane to Cledford. 
The track was rough and, near the centre of the path, was a big pothole. This would fill with muddy water when it rained (which was quite often).
 Groceries were ordered by ladies who came to the shop on Saturday mornings, for delivery the same afternoon, and the orders were packed into boxes with the purchaser's name on them. I then packed the boxes into the basket, which was separate from the frame on the bike that carried it. I had several trips to make as the basket would only carry so many boxes of groceries.
On this particular Saturday afternoon I had made some of my deliveries and then had to go up to the  Cledford end of town.
It was a wet day, the dirt track was very muddy and very bumpy and I had the bike going as fast as it reasonably would with the one gear at my command.
The bike and I were bouncing along jauntily and  the groceries, including some  sliced meat wrapped in that waxed white paper, were bouncing along with us. 
Suddenly the front wheel went into the aforementioned pothole. 
The basket leapt up, taking the groceries with it, then slapped back down into the frame.
The groceries, however, were not content to stay in their place.
Some fell into the muddy puddle in a soggy heap and one nicely wrapped package of sliced meat got caught in the spinning spokes of the front wheel, went round past the front forks and got kind of mangled up.
There was only one thing I could do.
I stopped the bike, got off and picked the spilled groceries up. I couldn't deliver them in that state, and so I wiped them off on the front of my coat, and put them back into the basket. 
I gave the mangled up sliced meat the same treatment and tossed that back in with the rest.  Some tomatoes in a bag had got mangled and muddy as well, but they didn’t look too bad once I’d cleaned them up a bit.
Pureed tomatoes? Well, what the ‘eck?
So, groceries back in their place and I was ready to go again.
I carried on with my rounds and delivered the groceries, nicely packed in their respective boxes, to the ladies eagerly awaiting them.
Up the path, knock on the door, big smile… 
“Good afternoon, Madam. Here’s your groceries!” and back down the path and on the bike again, peddling like crazy to get back to the Meadow Dairy and pick up my next deliveries.
I don’t really know how this could be, because in those days not many people had cars, but by the time I got back to the Meadow Dairy, the mangled up groceries in their hastily cleaned-up wrapping paper were there in the shop waiting for me. 
Mister Rolly himself presented them for my inspection upon my arrival.
 “You can’t deliver groceries in this state, lad!” he said. 
I can’t remember if he asked for an explanation or not. He just told me that, in future, instead of taking spoiled goods to the customers, I should take them back to the shop for replacement.
I think he did say something about the ladies concerned not looking too pleased when they entered the shop with their battered groceries but he was quite lenient with me.
As I said, he was a good man was Mister Rolly!
© Daniel Preston 2011
    Editor's note: We tried hard to find a suitable photograph to illustrate the anecdote which Daniel has kindly allowed us to publish here. These pictures were the only ones we could find which include the shop in question and neither of them are of the time the incident took place. The one on the left shows the row looking rather attractive in the early 20th century but, as the right hand picture shows, not too long after Daniel's escapade took place the Meadow Dairy and the row that contained it was in a state of terminal decline.

Here's what Daniel had to say when I showed him the photographs:

 Looking at the photo of the 'Meadow Dairy' row of buildings in the early 'Seventies, it is hard to believe that they really did look like that. I never thought of them as being in such a state of dilapitation.
I worked at 'Meadow Dairy' in 1966 as far as I recall. I know I was doing my apprenticeship at Foden's; three pound ten a week when I first started there, so no wonder I had to work Saturdays at 'Meadow Dairy'. I had to pay me share at home as well, as I'm sure was the case with yourself.
That being said, those buildings can't have looked much better when I worked there.
As I recall then, the 'Meadow Dairy' was the first shop with the flat-fronted window. Neddy Bunn lived in one of the houses between 'Meadow Dairy' and Luther Walton's shop. My wife says she came across a reference to Neddy Bunn in 'Middlewich Diary'. He lived next door to us in the Turnpike Cottages and I'm sure you know where they were. Next to Jubilee Terrace anyway. Me and my oldest sister were born in the middle cottage. My Great Grandparents (I never met them) lived in one of the houses in Jubilee Terrace.
I would say then that it may be a good idea to use both of the 'Meadow Dairy' photos, explaining that the time of my story took place some years before the second photo was taken.
I can't recall what the other shops along that row were.
If you are interested, I have a few tales of when I worked as a paper boy for Reg Taylor, none of them incriminatory. DP

(of course it goes without saying that we'd be pleased to hear more of Daniel's tales. We'd also welcome contributions from anyone else who can help us bring the town's past back to life in a similar way -ed)

Facebook feedback:
Geraldine Williams 

Brilliant account Daniel. I remember the Meadow Dairy with the big blocks of butter and the butter pats and the assistants' unique way of totting up your bill verbally by stating the cost of the first item, then adding on the cost of the next item, repeating that total, then adding on the next item and so on until they arrived at the final total. All done at breakneck speed! My husband used to deliver groceries for Pegram's as a lad Daniel and agrees with everything you say about the bike. He delivered as far as Wimboldsley, Warmingham and Byley and made a bread delivery to Kraft Dairies every day.