Sunday 20 May 2012


by Dave Roberts

From the Carole Hughes collection, and courtesy of Carole's friend Diane Parr, comes this view of Lewin Street twenty-five years ago including, on the left, the Victoria Building, home to the Middlewich Town Council, its predecessor, the Middlewich Urban District Council (until 1974), and various other organisations.
You can see that the practice of displaying notices in the office windows was already well-established, and that someone from Congleton Borough thought he/she could come up with a better arrangement (see below)
The main door at the front of the building was originally also the 'official' entrance to the Civic Hall and there was an illuminated red and white sign over the door reading 'Council Offices & Civic Hall'.
This dated back to the opening of the Civic Hall in September 1969 but, as can be seen,  had disappeared by 1987.
In general the Lewin Street scene looked much as it does today.
Until, that is, you look closely.
Surprisingly, the ramp access to the council offices was already in place by this date, and is, of course, still there, but the glass boxes for official council notices on their brick plinth are long gone.
This arrangement, put in place by Congleton Borough Council,  could best be described as a 'triumph of hope over experience'.
Townspeople looked at those vulnerable-looking boxes with a mixture of scorn and amusement and the general opinion was that they 'wouldn't last five minutes'.
And they didn't.
To be fair, I don't think they would have 'lasted five minutes' in any era, or in any town.
They were soon gone, smashed to pieces by the local idiots, but the brick plinth lingered for many years afterwards with the remains of the metal struts for the boxes sticking out of the top as a reminder of why 'we can't have anything nice', as one resident forlornly put it to me all those years ago.
The former co-op shop was already in business as a chemists in 1987, as stated in the curiously old-fashioned (even then) 'Stymie' typeface (the same one used by Granada TV in the early 1960s) on the end of the building.
At this time the shop  was, I think, owned by Mr N G Stott, and still had its central doorway as in Co-op days. Before becoming a chemists, the shop served time as a laundrette and as a Landrover Sales & Service outlet..
Can anyone clear up a bit of confusion here? Mr Stott also used a shop further down the road at the Lewin Street end of Hightown (the shop now known as 'Jennie Edwards'), but I can't remember in which order these shops were used. Did he move from Lewin Street to Hightown, or was it the other way round?
Any information on this gratefully received.
Also seen on the end wall are the still extant post-box, one of the 'new-style' BT telephone boxes (which is still in situ, and has, in fact, just been repaired at the time of writing) and that road sign which caused us some puzzlement here.
The shop is (for the present) still a chemist - one of two Rowlands Pharmacy branches in the town, and also Middlewich's Post Office.
Next comes the pub originally known as The Crown and now named The Narrowboat.
At the time of our photograph it was called The Danes as can be seen from the sign over the door.
The Danes was run by a former landlord of The Red Lion and boasted a specially made carpet woven with representations of Great Danes.
There were also several real Great Dane dogs on the premises.
The pub at this time was very long and thin, making full use of the former outbuildings and well-known as a 'disco pub' with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.
A For Sale sign can be seen underneath the pub sign. Was this the beginning of the end for The Danes?
Certainly The Narrowboat was in existence in the early years of the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival which started in 1990.
Next comes a small alleyway giving access to the rear of the pub and a small car park (now effectively blocked by a new extension on the side of the pub) and then Fred Dodd's Gents Outfitters.
 The row of houses between Dodd's and the library had gone by this time.

                    LEWIN STREET 1987

1 comment:

  1. Chris Koons (Sant)21 May 2012 at 03:47

    I keep expecting to see myself in some of these more recent "old" photos LOL
    Speaking of which where ARE all the people in this photo?? Looks really quite creepy all devoid of life...


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