Tuesday 17 October 2017


Photo courtesy of Diane Parr
by Dave Roberts
We're going back twenty-five years once more to the Middlewich of 1987 with these pictures from the Carole Hughes Collection taken by her friend Diane Parr.
The second photo in this diary entry focuses on the interior of one of the town's most fondly-remembered shops but, before we take a look at it, it's well worth looking at the picture above in its own right as it shows the way things were in those days when it came to shopping in Middlewich town centre.
To the left of the picture, next to the church and bathed in sunshine, you can just make out Brockley's paint, wallpaper, and decorating supplies shop with its side window facing the lower part of Hightown.
Brockley's moved from this location to a shop near the top end of Wheelock Street not long after this picture was taken.
Next to Brockley's is the shop we've immortalised as 'The Butchered Butchers Shop'.
Daniel Preston managed to get pictures of this unfortunate shop just after it closed at the end of 1988 and fell into the hands of people with scant regard for its history and architectural merits.
Then comes the NatWest Bank (which, in those days, kept regular banking hours like any other bank) and the Co-op, by this time no longer billing itself as 'The Co-operative Superstore', but still boasting its rather impressive canopy, albeit with a small blue Co-op logo replacing the original sign.
Looking at this nondescript building today, with its modest Tesco Express and Pineland shops it's hard to imagine that it could ever be described as a 'superstore', but appearances are deceptive.
Much of the building is taken up now by a large storage area at the rear of the premises belonging to Pineland. This is the area which was once the Co-op's furniture department, reached by a rather impressive staircase from the ground floor.
The removal of the canopy from the front of the building has served to emphasise its loss of stature.
Next comes another long lost Middlewich institution, Skellon's shoe shop, where we were all taken as children to be fussed over by assistants with tape measures, rulers and 'Clark's Children's Foot Gauges' to ensure that we were always given shoes which fitted properly, thus avoiding our being maimed for life by shoes which were too big or too small.
Next comes that wonderful shop which everyone remembers with a great deal of affection - G Samuel & Son, which we'll be examining the interior of shortly and, finally, Reg Taylor's Newsagents, once the employers of the redoubtable Daniel Preston and Cliff Astles, both pioneers of the art of paper shredding.
Which brings us to the next remarkable photograph:

Photo courtesy of Diane Parr
Well, whoever would have thought we'd ever see this scene again, even if it is only in photographic form?
 It's the interior of the legendary Samuel's shop - technically, at least, an ironmongers but in reality stocking a bewildering array of household goods of all kinds: plastic buckets, seeds, disinfectant, paint, dusters, walking sticks, coat-hangers, garden tools, ribbon, washing baskets, clothes dyes....and that's just a random selection of what can be seen in this photograph.
The two Samuels - Senior and Junior - were seldom stumped, whatever you asked them for and if they should happen to be 'temporarily out of stock' on some item or other, you could be sure they'd get it for you in very short order.
It was a delight to shop there; the Samuels had that old-fashioned courteous way of dealing with the public which we all miss so much these days and the words 'thank you!' and 'ta!' were bandied about freely.
In fact, in the end, Peter Samuel adopted his own portmanteau word and would say 'thankyou-ta!' at the slightest provocation.
Wonderful people.
You get something of the same feeling today when shopping at Middlewich DIY.
We're grateful to Diane Parr for having the foresight to take this photo and to Carole for allowing us to bring it to you.

Facebook Feedback
(When Carole Hughes first published this photo on her Facebook page there was a great reaction):

Lynne Towers I love this photo. Fantastic Samuels!

Karen Reynolds It sold everything you needed!

Maureen Condra I called in there a few times when I was over for a visit.

Christine May The shop always had a nice smell.

Carole Hughes It did, Christine. It was a great shop.

Dave Roberts Does anyone know the older Mr Samuels first name? I know the son was called Peter. They were both a delight to do business with, full of charm and old-fashioned courtesy. And yes, the shop sold everything you could think of, and if it wasn't in stock they'd get it for you.
(I'd still like to know this - Ed)

Maureen Condra I bought a lot of things there. I still have a tea-towel and some cups I bought there.

Christine May I'm so glad I didn't do the stock-take!

Wendy Sproston My Mum used to go in there for everything.

Paul Hough What a fantastic shop. I've still got a kitchen knife I bought there. Twenty-odd years old and still going strong!

Dave Roberts Absolutely wonderful! Who would have thought we'd ever see it again, even if it is only a photograph?


Since this entry was written, the NatWest Bank has closed its doors for good and the premises are, by all accounts, going to become a carpet shop.* Pineland, too, has  closed down and the Choklat Bar, which was based in Reg Taylor's shop, closed down after a partial collapse of its floor on New Years Eve 2013. The likelihood is that it will be absorbed into the neighbouring Chimichangos Mexican restaurant.

Update (2017): In fact what used to be the Choklat Bar is now Maggie Finn's Tea shop.

* In the Spring of 2017 Manchester Carpets opened the shop for the sale of beds and mattresses.

In October 2017 'Maggie Finn's Tea Shop' relocated to Maggie Finn's Tea Garden in Canal Terrace and Reg Taylor's former shop underwent yet another transformation, this time into  the offices of a web design company.

First published 6th April 2012
Updated January 2015, Spring 2017 and 17th October 2017


  1. Margaret Williams7 April 2012 at 00:21

    Although I moved from Middlewich in the sixties Carole's photo is exactly as I remember it. I always think of Samuels when I see the Two Ronnies "4 candles sketch". Anyone remember being told to go to Samuels for a "pound of Skyhooks"

  2. Funnily enough, Margaret, that sketch always reminds me of Samuels too.


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