Monday 16 April 2018


© Phillip Shales 2012 All Rights Reserved. With acknowledgments to Kerry Fletcher and Dave Thompson at Middlewich Town Council

by Dave Roberts

Today we're featuring another of  Phillip Shales' collection of black and white photographs from the 1940s, and we're being deliberately vague about the precise year.
This, of course, is through sheer necessity as the photos, rescued from a computer at Middlewich Town Council, do not have any real background information with them.
We've seen pictures from the 1948 Chairman's Sunday processions before and we're hazarding a guess that this is another of those occasions.
Something about the clothes worn by these solemn-looking civic dignitaries seems to suggest that it is from slightly earlier in the decade, and they do not appear to be the same people we saw in, for example, this 1948 shot.
Then again, this could just be a different group of council chairmen on the same occasion.
Presumably that is the then Chairman of Middlewich UDC in the middle of the shot, complete with robe, chain of office and ceremonial hat? And could that be the clerk to the council look rather self-effacing at his side?
The other gentlemen in the group give the impression of being at a state funeral.
Then again, Chairman's Sunday was always a somewhat sombre affair, as is only right and proper.
So what was the year? Was it 1948? Does anyone recognise the MUDC Chairman in this picture? If we could put a name to him, we're halfway there.
As always, though, it's the Middlewich streetscape which steals the show and we can  easily put this very old photo into a modern context and identify the scene as Hightown.
The main clue is the White Bear which we can see above the heads of the group of Chairmen.
 Left of that is the old Coopers shop which we had a good view of here. This shop was formerly Kinsey's, and the location of one of the first telephones in Middlewich, as recounted here.
 To the left of the gentleman we're presuming is the Chairman of the MUDC is the National Westminster Bank (a small part of the Fittons/Vernons butchers shop can also be made out).
But who knew that the labour (or employment) exchange once occupied that shop on the left which later became Brockley's wallpaper shop?
Out of shot to the right was Middlewich Town Hall and the row of shops seen here were demolished in the 1970s to make way for the 'Piazza', now in its turn replaced by the amphitheatre which was memorably photographed by Paul Greenwood at the end of last year. Here's a reminder of that wonderfully atmospheric winter scene.

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Geraldine Williams It's certainly the late 40s, judging by the girls' clothes. The Chairman looks a bit like Clement Attlee but, as this is unlikely (!), might it have been Mr Powell from the Gents Outfitters in Wheelock Street?

Dave Roberts When we published an old Powell's Tailors bill last year one of Mr Powell's relations got in touch. I wonder if he might be able to confirm whether or not Mr Powell is the man in the picture?
(see comment below)


First published 9th April 2012
Re-formatted and re-published 16th April 2018


  1. The Mayor in the picture is not Joseph Powell. There were two Joseph Powells. The older I know was the mayor at some time as I have a picture of him in his mayoral robes and could be identified by his "Mutton Chop" whiskers.Old Joe (as he was referred to by my family) dies in 1935. His son Joseph C Powell (Young Joe)was born in 1867 and died in 1948, and according to the picture I have bears no resemblance.

    There was a board in the council rooms in the Victoria Buildings which listed all the past mayors and their dates of service which would help with identification.

    Peter Atkin
    Descendent of Joe Powell

  2. Peter, Many thanks for your comment. The board(s) in the council chamber listing Chairmen of the UDC from 1894 to 1973 and Mayors of Middlewich from 1974 to the present day are still there as far as I know, and I really would like to have a photo of them, or at least a list of the names and dates for future reference. But at least we now know who the Chairman in the picture wasn't.


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