Monday 20 April 2020


(originally published in May 2012 as 'King Street 1930s'

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by Dave Roberts

We're a little undecided as to whether this particular photo comes from the 1930s or the 1940s.
The car is no real clue, of course, as the Second World War meant that cars from the 1930s and earlier  were kept on the road during and after the war rather than being replaced, so we can't be sure of the date of this car's manufacture and how long it was on the road for.
The two houses on the right are numbers 44 and 46 King Street and were both built in the early 1930s by my Grandfather and Grandmother  and 'Uncle' Harry Shore. There was (and is) a third house to the right of these - no 42 - which belonged to the Costello family.
We still have a number of documents relating to the building of these houses and they will be finding their way onto the Middlewich Diary in the fullness of time.

Most of the present day houses and bungalows to be found on the right hand side of King Street, where the hedge is in our picture, weren't built until the early 1960s, but those on the left have an almost new look to them so were probably built in the 1920s. They could, in fact, be the reason why the picture was taken in the first place.

In the centre of the picture, next to the large tree, is the entrance to Harbutt's Field which was, many years later, to be identified as the site of a Roman fort, ensuring recognition of our town's part in the history of Roman Britain.

UPDATE: 20th April 2020:

When this diary entry was re-published and used as part of our   'Middlewich Diary revisited' feature during the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, Geoff Williams contributed the following additional information. On the strength of this, we decided to change the title of this entry from 'King Street in the 1930s' to 'King Street in the 1940s'.

'The Fort was rediscovered after the photograph. It was known about long before that,. one of the Vernons from the Manor knew of it and C F Lawrence most certainly did, he named his house on Kinderton Street, the same as the more probable Roman name for Middlewich being CONDATE. I seem to recall (may have been in "Omerod's Cheshire") that the fort was a very good Bow shot from the Manor. It would have had to be a very good Bow shot from the Manor, perhaps not so far from the manor grounds. The diverted Roman Road did run down New King Street and underneath the grass bank on the right of the photo, where the grass verge in front of the pavement now is. The original Roman Road probably ran under your old house (No 33 King Street - Ed) and more directly to the Fort's southern gate. I seem to recollect being told that the 2 boys could have been my brother Maurice and his friend Jim Wooley, which would have made it the 1940's'.

(Geoff is a long-standing member of the Middlewich Heritage Society and the Middlewich Heritage Trust and has been involved in many projects in Middlewich over the years, including the Roman Middlewich Festivals and the Murgatroyd's Brine Pumps restoration. The comment below from 'Unknown' is also actually from Geoff who, for many years, has lived at number 24 King Street, which is just out of shot to the right of this photograph. -Ed.)

On the other side of the tree the road veers to the right and rises to cross the bridge over the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway line, descending on the other side towards the River Dane.
This stretch of road is relatively quiet now, and destined to become even quieter when the Middlewich by-pass is (eventually) completed.
It is, in any case, a deviation from the original line of the Roman  King Street which was originally along the line of what is now New King Street, running from the now closed off end of that Street, along the line of the hedge-row on the right to the entrance to Harbutt's field.
If you stand at that entrance today, and look back towards New King Street, the original line of the road is quite obvious.
What isn't quite so easy to make out is where the Roman road originally crossed the River Dane, but there may well have been a ford or bridge over the River quite a distance to the left of the present bridge.
The large wooden poles on the left of the picture are not telegraph poles, but components of the somewhat quaint and erratic system supplying electricity to King Street, part of which survives today, with copper wires strung high along the road and some of the wooden poles doubling as street lights (definitely not the kind of thing for Geraldine Williams' Middlewich Street Light collection, though).
During periods of high wind these copper wires would sway alarmingly, even snapping on a couple of occasions and lying in the road like thin dead snakes.
I remember phoning the Merseyside & North Wales Electricity Board (MANWEB to you) to tell them of one such occurrence, only to be treated with a lot of suspicion, as if I'd made the story up as a joke. Electrical cables flailing  all over the footpath outside my home was never one of my favourite subjects for humour.
And at one time there was a transformer slung high up on wooden poles at the entrance to Harbutt's Field and just opposite my Grandma's house.
One afternoon in the late 1960s we stood in Grandma's front garden and watched with great interest as this transformer started emitting huge blue sparks and, eventually, and spectacularly, burst into flames.
Oddly, though, Grandma's electricity supply was not affected.

First published as 'King Street in the 1930s' 3rd May 2012
Revised and re-edited with additional information by Geoff Williams and re-published as 'King Street in the 1940s' 20th April 2020

1 comment:

  1. P S The Roman road was re-aligned when the fort closed down, it may well have been the FIRST Middlewich By-pass!


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