Wednesday 25 January 2012


by Dave Roberts

Nantwich Road in the 1960s (or possibly early 1970s) and treble Green Shield Stamps are being given away with petrol at 'The Woodlands', situated where, in modern-day Middlewich, we find Glastonbury Drive, Malmesbury Close, Lindisfarne Close, Tewkesbury Close, Fountains Close, Westminster Close, Welbeck Close and Buckfast Way, all modern developments built mostly on the site of the former Boosey's Nurseries as mentioned here.
Glastonbury Drive is the main estate road, off which the others branch and replaces the access road running alongside the houses on the far right of the picture. Malmesbury Close, which is the first road to branch off it to the left, runs parallel to Nantwich Road, approximately where the line of petrol pumps is in our picture.
Lurking alongside the building, on the left, is what looks very much like a breakdown truck.
Fortunately for the modern day motorist's peace of mind, this picture was taken long before  large signs stating the price per litre of the petrol on sale came into vogue, so we'll never know just how heartbreakingly cheap it was at the time*
* Not so, regrettably. Ignorance is bliss, but Geraldine Williams spills the beans below.
The ubiquitous squeaky Castrol sign is, however, present and correct.
The Woodlands was one of my earliest memories, for the very good reason that it stood directly opposite my home at 53 Nantwich Road.
Despite that, I find I know surprisingly little about it.

But here, riding to the rescue, comes Geraldine Williams:

'...The Woodlands used to be a guest house/hotel and was also used to billet American officers during the American occupation of Cranage(!) and the filling station was always known as Blease's.
My Dad used to top up our car with petrol there - four shots and four gallons for £1. The shots were (apparently) REDeX - an upper cylinder lubricant which was pumped into the petrol tank when filling up with a corresponding number of gallons of fuel and allegedly made the pistons work more smoothly.

(REDeX is still very much with us, and a source of endless discussion among motoring enthusiasts, who will spend  hours discussing its pros and cons rather than talking about sensible  things such as the relative merits of the Sony ECM 99 mike and the smaller F99A for field recording work, as normal people do -Ed)
Joan Pierpoint used to hold ballroom dancing classes (which I attended) in the big left-hand front room, and I owe all my Foxtrot skills to her. Ha ha!'

For a first hand account of late-night working at the Woodlands petrol station 

Facebook feedback:

Andrew Tomlinson  Didn't this garage later become Jelliman's?

Geraldine Williams  Yes, I think it did.


I was delighted to receive additional information on this entry from no less a person than Denis Yardley - a name I remember well from my childhood. Denis' comments are featured below. - Ed


  1. I took ballet classes with Joan Pierpoint! LOL

    1. Geraldine Williams26 January 2012 at 09:55

      So did my sister, Chris. Joan used to hold dance classes at the Town Hall but I don't know if the Woodlands was a replacement or an original venue. She was quite a sturdy girl for a dance teacher wasn't she? LOL Her mother used to have the wool shop at the bottom of Darlington Street (now derelict)

  2. When I went to her ballet class, she was using the Pochin Club (?) on Booth Lane. In addition to ballet, I remember some girls also took tap & modern dance, but we were poor & mum & dad could only afford ballet for me LOL

  3. And yes, she was rather sturdy for a dancer... probably why she never made the London City Ballet LOL

  4. I used to live 5 doors down from you Paul at #43,1950-1961 approx. My sister used to know an Alan Hough, from work I believe, used to give her a lift. And the tow-truck was probably one used by Mr Jelliman to collect breakdowns off the new motorway, the M6, so the photo is probably the late '50s early '60s?. Sadly, he was killed whilst collecting a broken-down vehicle. He had a huge (at least to a child ) Alsatian roaming around at the back loosely attached to a rope which ran the length of the garden. I used to see it every night taking him for a walk! I joined Joan's dancing class of course with some friends from school. (Still cannot get "Charmaine" out of my head) and had a wonderful time. I knew Colin her brother who joined the BBC I think and I believe her father was the barber next door to the wool shop?
    I used to sit at a desk with Jean Hemmings at school and I think she went but I'm not sure.
    A few years later Joan held classes 1/2 way up Darlington Street which I went to and she also held many in the Town Hall in the late '50s and early '60s which my friends and I enjoyed immensely. I could pop 1/2 a gallon of petrol into my BSA GoldStar 350 for half-a-crown and Redex DEFINITELY made it go faster. Yeah right. And Green Shield Stamps were a MUST for everyone and everything.. Then they went bust leaving me with a cupboard full. I never did do the ballet darn it. Bottle of Woodpecker cider could be purchased (illegally by us!) for 3 bob, (a tanner each for 6 of us), "and a good time was had by all." To the left of the garage is a field with a garage... Flycatchers used to nest in the hinge I remember.

  5. Hello Denis. Good to hear from you. Just to clear up a bit of confusion - I'm the one who used to live at no 53 (from 1952-1959) with my Mum and Dad, Doris and Arthur, my brothers Glynn and Chris and sister Cynthia. Cynthia, by the way, now lives at no 45.
    Paul kindly allowed us to use the photo from his collection.
    It's wonderful to be able to feature more reminiscences of the Woodlands and Nantwich Road, particularly from someone whose name also brings back childhood memories.

  6. Hello Dave, ah, memories are fluid things aren't they, but all good about Middlewich.
    I remember Glynn of course, and a few others. Alan Hough lived at 41 with his grandparents, the two Covell boys at 45; Alan very serious smoked a pipe and the younger whose name I have I'm afraid forgotten helped me with my maths homework... he was very patient! Went to Edinburgh Uni to read Medicine I believe. He kindly passed on his running spikes to me: soft tan leather.. I thought they were the most amazing things.. I jumped far further when wearing them, until someone nicked them at SJD. My mother collared Hopkins the HM about it, and later argued that the school should build a swimming pool for ALL the pupils rather than the few, Hopkins Rowing shed etc. His prestige project! Can't remember who won that battle, but I'm pleased to see the old building remains, but it has shrunk to half the size I remember... detention followed if you wore the school uniform outside without the cap... AND we doffed it to teachers we passed, including my aunt (Miss Smallwood), no exceptions. Got the cane two or three times from old Hopkins, didn't dare tell my parents. The shame of it!! There was another boy Steve Healy I think, I remember he broke his arm at the Coronation party in 1953 just up the road on the right by the corner to Booseys. And the Powell boys, we flew model airplanes where the surgery is now.
    A gang of us played for many happy hours near the Read's house. Whatever happened to Leslie I wonder, such a pretty girl. I see Derek and Julie are still around, big scandal when they eloped to Gretna Green as I remember. Good for them. Wonder what happened to the Willing Dentons son who knew the Earls boys too, they had a huge Scalextric set-up, magic to a boy... and real Lead Soldiers... fabulous.
    Happy days. Cheers for now.


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