Thursday 30 April 2020


Photo courtesy of Joan Smith
by Dave Roberts

From the collection of  the late Frank Smith of Ravenscroft, courtesy of Joan Smith and Bill Eaton, come these photographs of the  aftermath of a dramatic traffic incident in 1984.

Bill has sent us this note to accompany the images:

'Frank's notes for these photographs say:

In a heavy morning mist a heavy goods vehicle ploughed into three cottages on Lewin Street.
A child in the front bedroom of one of the cottages woke early and was taken to a room at the rear of the
building shortly before the crash happened. The damage was so bad that all three cottages later had to be completely demolished.
Frank also drew attention to the decorative brickwork over the windows of the right-hand cottage (below)'

Photo courtesy of Joan Smith

Note, to the centre right of the top photograph,  Dave Costello's Angling Centre which was, at that time, still in use as St Paul's Methodist Chapel.

In a small town like this, so beset with traffic problems and with such relatively narrow streets, the wonder is not that something like this could happen, but that it hasn't happened more often.

The cottages destroyed in this incident were replaced not long afterwards by modern housing.

Facebook Feedback:

Andy Kendrick I remember that crash in 1984, and the old cottages. Shame they were lost. But it's nice to see the old St Paul's as it was. I used to go to Sunday School there. Happy memories

Rachel Walklate I have shared this link with the lady who I think was 'the girl taken from the front room to the back'.

Geraldine Williams I didn't know about the crash. I assumed that the cottages were just demolished as part of Middlewich's regeneration. My paternal grandfather was born and brought up in one of the cottages in the late 1800s.

Denise Appleton We had just moved out of one of those cottages months before the accident, but Reg Hunt was still living there.

Robert Sheckleston I remember the crash. Reg Hunt and his partner Thelma lived there. Thelma worked on the salt-floor at RHM Foods.

Susan Nugent I seem to think Mollie Wilkinson lived in one of those cottages. I'm sure she had her first daughter then. I'm sure someone will know.

Mark Joyce That was all down to a Ken Elsby's truck. My Auntie and Uncle used to live in one of those cottages

KathAndBarryWalklate This was my sister's house. It was early in the morning when the lorry ran into the house next door and took half my sister's house with it. She had a six month old baby which she had not long taken out of her cot before it was full of bricks from the wrecked wall. She was very lucky. That little baby grew up to be Nikki Wilkinson who had the Turnpike at one time.

UPDATE 30th April 2020:

When this Diary Entry was used as part of our 'Middlewich Diary Revisited' series in April 2020 Nikki Wilkinson, who was indeed the baby involved in the crash, herself posted the following stunning account of what happened on that fateful night when she was just a baby. We've reproduced it here with her permission - Ed

I was apparently about 8 months old. Obviously I don’t remember it actually happening but have been told the story many times. 

I only got to see the damage and how lucky I was, because of this story popping up. 

Across from these cottages is now the accountants business, if you notice there is a bend in the road there.

My dad, for whatever reason, had parked his car across the road on the bend the night before. Due to the bad weather and it being a grey/silver car, the lorry driver didn’t see it until the last second and swerved to miss it.

Unfortunately it meant he lost control and hit the gable end of the first cottage and ploughed through the other 2. We lived in the middle one.

As you can see on the picture, the front bedroom wall is completely missing. This wall fell on top of the drivers cabin and killed him instantly.

My cot along with a nursing chair was against the window of this room and ended up with the wall in the cab. 

Not long before the crash, I had woken wanting a feed. My mum was breast feeding so my dad didn’t stir.

She went to get me and was so tired that she decided to take me back to her bed and fell back to sleep with me feeding.

The lorry then hit and my dad woke and went running to the front room. He was hanging through the wall space on his belly pulling the rubble out of the cab screaming my name.

He didn’t know I was safe.

If my mum had decided to feed me in the chair, we both would have died.

I now live on the same road again by the narrow path next to D&D autos.

I often wonder if lightning will strike twice!!

A very dangerous road to live on.

When the papers printed the story, they mis-heard Nichola and printed my name as Baby Jessica. 

Nikki Wilkinson
29th April 2020

Originally published: 8th June 2012
Re-published 9th March 2014
Expanded and re-pub;ished 30th April 2020

Editor's note: This Diary entry was re-published not because of any additional information or updates, but because of the unfortunate comment added by an obvious internet troll which added nothing but gave local people and those who really know the town a chance to tell us what they think. As is our invariable custom, we immediately deleted the actual comment. Suffice it to say that it described the town as 'soulless and horrible', a description so manifestly unfair that, just before consigning the comment to oblivion, we canvassed opinions from people who really know the town to see if this wind-up merchant's views had any currency. The short answer is a resounding 'no'.
In case you don't know, an internet 'troll' is a sad, lonely, and ultimately irrelevant individual whose sole source of enjoyment is making fatuous comments on websites and blogs in order to 'wind people up'. Which can only work on those with a  feeble intellect similar to that of the 'troll' him/herself. Those who know and love this town would never get drawn into a pointless argument with such a weird individual. Nice try though.
As expected local people and people who have left the town and miss it very much were quick to jump to the defence of Middlewich. We've published some of the feedback from Facebook below (comments pertaining to the original subject matter - i.e. the 1984 lorry crash - have been added to the feedback at the end of the article, above), and it's also well worth taking a look at the comments on the page itself (including the original sad and misguided comment from someone who didn't deign to give us his/her name).
I think it was the use of the word 'soulless' which rankles with most people (although calling somewhere 'horrible' is hardly likely to endear anyone to its inhabitants), because soulless is precisely what this town is not.
 It's suffered terribly in the past from the ravages of industry, bad town planning and maladministration and, despite all that, has managed to pull itself up by its bootstraps and turn itself into a lively and pleasant town to live and work in.
No one denies that there's a long way to go, but people here have the enthusiasm and determination to make sure that what Dr Johnson described as 'a mean old town' is a place to be proud of.

New Facebook Feedback:

Lisa O'Toole I think this is a lovely town, full of history.

Susan Nugent If they don't have anything nice to say, well they shouldn't say anything at all. I love this town.

John Wood  Nothing wrong with Middlewich. Great little town for live entertainment and a great festival I never miss.

Gill Bowker Whoever wrote this clearly doesn't live in a town which pulls together in times of need, which has helpful neighbours and people to stop and chat to wherever you are in the community. Yes, Middlewich may not be to everyone's liking, but it does me and my family just fine, thank you.

Steven Doyle I have lived in Middlewich now for six years and it is anything but 'horrible and soulless'. Like every town Middlewich has its problems and undesirable people but, putting that aside, I cannot fault this place which has become home to me. I came to this town as an outsider and was made very welcome from the start. I think the town has a lot of character and lovely people living in it. Friendly, welcoming and helpful. I have the friendliset neighbours, who are more than I could wish for in terms of being good and helpful. It could never beat my home in Ireland, but it certainly gets second place in my eyes and is my home now. I love it here.

Sharon Barnard My view is that this anonymous person is an arse and that is all!

Richard Emblen As a Londoner who moved here nearly ten years ago all I can say is Middlewich is like heaven on earth. Appreciate it!


  1. ha ha this was someone that doesn't know the town and is obviously not fit to live in it

  2. Just another shit-for-brains troll being brave behind a computer keyboard. Not big and certainly not clever.

  3. Myself and Dan Kelly have been to The Narrowboat in Middlewich, for the monthly open mic, on more than once occasion; and that is both vital and soulful. Seems like you've got a mindless troll here Dave, I wouldn't rise to the bait, as you writ: a wind-up merchant.

  4. Yes. 'Mindless troll' is about right, and I've been on the internet long enough to recognise one. Thanks for all your comments!

  5. I lived in Middlewich for 10yrs. Soulless it is not. The people are lovely and the history is fascinating.

    K Hughes

  6. I would not go as far as saying its a soulless place to live or the word horrible thats to strong, what i would say its very close knit and does not welcome people moving into the area, one comment was after 20 yrs of living here im still not classed as a middlewicher, but the crime rate is low and the schools seems good, just a lack of facilities for the size of the popoulation.

  7. Propably from some idiot with 2 minutes free internet access from broadmoor.

  8. I was born in middlewich and moved away for a few years but moved back two years ago. I don't think we get a lot of investment considering how much the town has expanded over the years but the community always endeavours to raise awareness of local issues. Such as the parks and the commendable clean team. I am pleased to bring my children up here in such a safe and community minded town. Yes middlewich could do with a lot of investment but that certainly doesn't make it soulless. Where i used to live we barely knew our neighbours, within a few months of moving back i know everyone in our close. We send Christmas cards, our children play together, we have parties. There's no place i'd rather be right now.

  9. Lorraine whiteley12 March 2014 at 10:04

    Its lovely living in Middlewich. Id love to live back there and yes the people are lovely and friendly. I had a great childhood there. IM back quite often visiting my parents who have lovely neighbours and ex neighbours. One day in hoping to move back. I love it there. No one who lives there would say its soulless. Its still got more going for it than a lot of places, double the size. Local people are great and look after their town. I echo the phrase if you've nothing nice to say say nothing!

  10. No theres no need for anybody to be nasty, it is just opinion, its not my first place of choice to live though, in someways it has still got the small village attitude, you do get stared at alot because your not middlewich born and bred,, but i have noticed whichever cheshire town you goto they stare its a trait of cheshire people i think

  11. I moved to Middlewich in 1998, got a job in Middlewich as i believe where ever you move to the first year or so should be spent local. I have made some fabulous friends and some i will carry with me through my whole life no matter where i end up living. While Middlewich does have some issues just like any other town or village up and down the country. It is certainly one of the better ones. Great people, great community and more importantly it is central to anywhere in the country. My daughter is Middlewich born and bred goes to school in Middlewich and has great friends and a social circle going on, while i would be happy to move back home ( wales) i certainly have no qualms about bringing up my daughter here in Middlewich. It is safe, crime is low and on the whole i think we as a town and community can be proud of our youngsters.

  12. I’ve lived here all my life some 59yrs , it’s changed a lot since I was a child when the town was conciderably smaller , everyone knew everyone then ,so there was never any chance as a kid doing anything wrong because it would get back to your parents l the local bobbies Mr Moudy and mr Winn knew the kids lol. A lot of places gone now , I felt lucky to have a childhood here exploring the fields and going down river Dane ect ,or push biking to Byley we had plenty of scope to play without any worries .
    We always stayed together with friends felt safe to 😊. Happy memories .

  13. Middlewich has a great Comunity , look how people have banded together over this pandemic making sure the vulnerable can get grocery’s Ect , such a great caring spirit even though the town as grown the caring for each other is still here ❤️. Where else would you want to live 😊. I remember the crash to Molly Wilkinson was living there very lucky escape . Molly is a relation via my marriage in the 70’s My mum in-law nee Molly Waldron / Hassall was her Aunty . It’s lovely that then connection from older Middleich is kept going 😊👏🏻


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