Sunday, 29 July 2012


It's widely assumed that when the original Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival came on the scene in 1990  the Middlewich Carnival, at that time organised by Middlewich Round Table, disappeared.
This surviving programme from 1991 shows that the Carnival carried on for at least one more year.
Does anyone remember if this was the last Middlewich Carnival of all?
The cover is the result of a competition organised by the Round Table and was designed by a pupil of St Mary's RC School. Unfortunately, although this information was given in the programme itself, the name of the winning artist was not. It would be interesting to know the name of that pupil.
The method of printing (and the programme has all the hallmarks of being the work of J&M Print) used for the cover - blue on a glossy white background - has made it difficult to reproduce here.
The discovery of this booklet has allowed us to add to our ever-growing collection of Middlewich trade advertisements, possibly the most poignant of them all being this one:
We've also been able to record something else for posterity - Boosey's opening hours, seasonally adjusted to take advantage of lighter nights between April and June.
Note also that early version of Middlewich's STD code, before the '1' was added and six figure numbers starting with '73' and '83' introduced.
There are also many other adverts in the programme, which we're dying to - and will - show you here on the Middlewich Diary. They include: Albert Atkinson (video - audio sales & service, Wheelock Street), G Dickinson and N G Stott (Dispensing chemists of Wheelock Street and Lewin Street - now both branches of Rowlands) Middlewich Fire & Heat Centre (Town Bridge, now an estate agents), Powell's ('quality menswear for the discerning man'), JJ Skellon Ltd (stockists of Clarks, K. Shoes, and Lotus), Knights & Dames, Wheelock Street ('night-time Kebab House, day-time Cafe'), R&H Taylor, 9 Wheelock Street (Newsagent & Tobacconist), Barber's (Tel 2537/2328 For Fresh Fruit, Vegetables and Fish), Fred Cash Ltd (Directors A Platt, A E Platt), R. A Devaney (Pallets) and many more.
We will, of course,  be returning to this particular programme many times to show you some of these advertisements and the rest of the programme, including the welcome from the then Round Table Chairman Derek Davies, and the message from Town Mayor Gerard Devaney.
For now though, we'll leave you with this page, showing the route of the carnival procession on that 24th August. twenty-one years ago:


Dave Thompson writes:

I think it was the last one. I recall a Round Table 'delegation' tried to persuade us to move the Folk & Boat Festival to August to include the Carnival. I tried to convince them to keep the Carnival going as it was, but members just didn't have the time and numbers to continue it.
And if 1991 was the year it was held on a field down Croxton Lane (alongside the Dane before the bridge) we - i.e. The Cats Bar - won the team 'It's A Knockout'! DT

(the procession route (above), seems to indicate that this particular Carnival was held on Market Field - Ed.)

Friday, 27 July 2012


The August/September edition of 'GO LOCAL' is now being delivered, telling you all you need to know about life in Middlewich.
You can see the online pdf version by clicking on the link below



Thursday, 26 July 2012


with a little help from RICHARD DEVANEY
As promised when we last looked into this long-lost but well remembered local institution in this diary entry, here are the words to the Niddries Biscuit Tin Song.
The old Biscuit Tin chugged off into the Middlewich sunset many years ago now, so we're not claiming that this is the definitive version of the song.
In fact if you know any additional words, or can correct  the ones we have here, we would, as always, be glad to hear from you.
The tune is one of those old folk-style stand-bys and has been used, with variations, for such classics as The Laughing Policeman, Mike Harding's Uncle Joe's Mintballs and The Oldham Tinkers' Pennine Rangers and for many others over the years. There are even shades of My Old Man's A Dustman in there. We'll be calling around with some sound recording equipment to capture the song for posterity in all its glory before too long
The sudden mention of WINSFORD BATHS! at the end is a reference to the old open air baths in Rilshaw Lane, just outside Winsford, which was one of the Biscuit Tin's ports of call all those years ago.


Niddrie's had a biscuit tin
All tied up with string;
The wheels had no mudguards,
And the seats they had no springs.

We're going round the corner,
The corner wasn't there,
And poor old Niddrie's biscuit tin
Went flying through the air.

Lulu had a baby,
She called him Sunny Jim;
She put him in the bath tub
To see if he could swim.

He swam to the bottom
And he came up for air;
Then Lulu got excited
And pulled him by the hair-

-cut, shampoo, ring the barber's bell,
And if he doesn't like it,
Just tell him, go to...

Hey there! Say there! How about a kiss?
Hey there! Say there!  What comes after this?


(original photo of the Morris Z Bus courtesy of John Page and
 Dick Gilbert's Classic Buses Website)

Thursday, 19 July 2012


The worst Summer weather for a hundred years has meant a slight change of format for this year's transport festival. Because of the immense amount of rain which has fallen on Market Field only cars, motorbikes and other relatively light vehicles can be accommodated.
Stephen Dent tells us that there is no need to phone him if you want to bring your vehicle along; just turn up on the day.
 The Middlewich Transport Festival is now in its fifth year.


This Diary entry was originally published on June 28th 2012


Here's a link to the Middlewich Guardian's story on how a new committee got together with former organisers of the Rose Fete  to breathe new life into this much-cherished annual event:


One of the organisers, Carole Moore, says, 'this is fabulous news for our town but now we need people to actually come forward to participate. No child or young person is excluded and we would love to hear from parents and children NOW to keep them 'in the loop' ready for the Rose Fete 2013.
We can't do it without you, so please get in touch and let's make next year the best one yet!!!
How amazing would it be to see all the children of Middlewich taking part in the parade?
And what an amazing memory it would be for them!
PLEASE get in touch and get involved!
If you contact us here at The Middlewich Diary, we'll put you in touch with the Rose Fete Organisers.

Does anyone have any photos of a lady who was Rose Queen in Middlewich in 1953?
Her name is Jean Sandbach, and she was the Grandma, or possibly even the Great-Grandma of one of the girls who entered the competition to become the 2012 Rose Queen in March.
Her parents would like to show her some photos, if any still exist.
If anyone can help it would be most appreciated. Please contact us here at The Middlewich Diary, and we'll pass the message on

Middlewich Rose Fete 2011

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


by Dave Roberts
Here's another of the advertisements which Stuart found in a 1978 diary. It naturally  follows on from this one because, as Stuart says, R Clewes Electronic Service was 'obviously next door to Kath's Cafe (which was no 10B) but I don't remember it'.
Neither do I, actually, but it must have taken over the premises from Johnson's the Cleaners at some stage. As we've pointed out in previous diary entries, these two shops seem to have been home to all kinds of businesses before both settling down to become hairdressers shops.
Let's make one thing clear before we go on: 'Dom. appliances' in this context is an abbreviation of 'Domestic appliances' - washing machines, tumble dryers etc. We wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong idea...
Stuart has also pointed out that this shop would have been in competition at the time with Douglas Williams & Co, ably managed by his grandfather Harry Jackson.
It would also have had Harold Woodbine Electrical (by this time at 28 Hightown and now operating from Sandbach) to contend with (although the retail side of Woodbine's may have closed by then - does anyone know?) and this was probably why the enterprise was so short lived.
R Clewes' ad is set in the same smudgy type as the one for Kath's Cafe, but includes some of those 'stock pictures' so prevalent in adverts of the time.
These little  illustrations cropped up everywhere, in the same way that 'clip art' does in the current computer age.
 They were drawn by what used to be called 'commercial artists', and my late brother Glynn was one of them.
He studied at the College of Art in London Road, Northwich, and later in Manchester (where he was 'in digs' as they used to say, with Manchester United's Denis Law).
He spent some time at the graphics department of Granada TV (in those far-off days when they proudly proclaimed themselves to be 'from the North') and put together programme captions for such long lost programmes as 'Scene At Six Thirty' using art card, letraset and cow gum. 
Glynn's main claim to fame, though, was designing the logo and signage for Harold Penk,the Crewe bookmakers. It was still in use until quite recently; a stylised 'P' in the shape of a winning post.
The stock images used in Clewes' advert are a little anachronistic for 1978, a reflection of how long the plates must have been in use at the printers.
The washing machine looks OK. You can imagine using one of them in the late 1970s. 
But just look at that TV set. It's the sort that was in use in the early 1960s when you had a choice of BBC TV or Granada TV (from the North, naturally).
Colour TV had been around for eleven years in 1978 and sets were much more sophisticated than the one in the illustration appears to be.
The transistor radio could pass muster as a 1970s model, but beneath that is that status symbol of the 50s and 60s, a radiogram.
Such contrivances had, by 1978, been ousted by the Music Centre, then thought to be the ultimate in entertainment systems.
And those round discs, children, are not CDs but vinyl records (they might even be 78s).
But never mind all that; does anyone know who R Clewes was and what happened to his electrical business?

Facebook feedback

Geraldine Williams We have to slot Pimlott's Fashions into the timeline for those two shops (I think it pre-dates Kath's Cafe). Their main business was on High Street, Winsford. There were quite a few Clewes' in Middlewich. I remember a Gary attending St Mary's School. There is, of course, Roy Clewes who I think is now deeply involved with the United Reformed Church in Middlewich. He would be of the right age, but I doubt he would have any connections with this Electronic business. But who knows?! Roy married Margaret Robinson from Sutton Lane. The Robinsons were great friends of My Granny (nee Polly Gallimore of postcards collection fame!) so I knew Margaret very well.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


by Dave Roberts
We're grateful to Stuart Warren Twigg for sending us this scan of an advertisement he found in an old diary for 1978.
It enables us to put a name, at last, to the cafe which Sharon Barnard  remembered from her childhood and we talked about in this memorable diary entry.
This is just one of a selection of 1978 ads from what must have been a real-life Middlewich Diary (as distinct from a virtual or internet one) and we'll be featuring them all here in due course.
There are six of these adverts in all. Some of them are  for well-known Middlewich businesses of the time, but only one of them, for the Golden Lion, relates to a business which still exists today.
1978 is not really all that long ago but in terms of local advertising it is part of a bygone age.
There was little or no self-publishing and prospective advertisers were largely in the hands of whoever printed and published the diary when it came to design and choice of typeface etc.
Certain stock images ( forerunners of what we now call 'clip art') were available, as we'll see in later adverts in the series, but, on the whole, the choices were quite limited unless advertisers were prepared to fork out quite a bit of cash.
Kath's advert must be the most basic of them all.
Just one very smudgy typeface (could that be Ariel or something similar?) and acres of white space.
This advertisement (and  the others in the series) have all the hallmarks of something printed just before the dawn of the computer age.
It's nice to be able to put a name to that 'cafe near The Vaults' from all those years ago, but as I've said before, it will always be 'Sharon's Cafe' to us.
However, if you know who 'Kath' was (or, we hope, still is) we'd be happy to hear from you.

Facebook Feedback:

Steve Dean I think it was Kath Fahy?

Geraldine Williams Yes, I thought that.

Philip Yearsley Definitely Kath Fahy. Superb sausage butties. I had a few of them, as you could tell, Steve!

  • Tuesday, 10 July 2012


    Photograph courtesy of Joan Smith
    The last of the large buildings in Lewin Street to disappear in the 1980s was the much-photographed CofE Infants School, and once it had gone the whole aspect of the street altered.
    Like so many other buildings on the street, the school suffered from the instability of the ground it was built on and, in its latter years, itself became unsafe, as can be seen from the strengthening girders bolted onto the outer walls (the pinkish-coloured vertical lines on  either side of the large windows to the right of the building).
    Frank Smith took the opportunity of photographing the demolition of this fondly remembered building and, as usual with items from Frank's collection, Bill Eaton has supplied a little information taken from the original notes accompanying the photos:

    'Frank's notes for these photographs say more about the craftmanship you can see in this old school than the demolition itself.
    He particularly admired the roof structure and other unique features of the design and construction which would not be found in today's modern buildings.'

    Notice, on the left, Les Gibbins' newsagents shop, which, as we saw here, still exists, though not as a shop.

    Next to this is the pleasing little arched side entrance to the school which, fittingly for a church school has a vaguely ecclesiastical look to it.
    At the other end of the building is Square One, which was, in the early 1960s,a record shop.
    Although large metal sheeting has been erected alongside Lewin Street to protect people and traffic from any fall-out from the demolition, there are no 'Demolition In Progress' signs. Presumably the contractors thought people might be able to work this out for themselves.
    Photograph courtesy of Joan Smith
    Frank's other shot, of the rear of the building, was taken from the Kinderton side of the Trent & Mersey Canal and River Croco, most likely from the bottom of Seabank and, again, the beautiful internal roof structures can be seen to good advantage.
    To the right of the school is the old fire station and to the right of that, at towpath level, is the blue brick structure which was once part of the footbridge which linked Seabank and the Town Wharf.

    Friday, 6 July 2012


    by Dave Roberts
    This photograph is included in Carole Hughes' collection of Middlewich photographs and also appears on page 38 of Wych & Water by Tim Malim and George Nash (Middlewich Vision Canal & Salt Town Project 2009) where it is attributed to George Twigg, an expert on the Mid-Cheshire salt and chemical industries.
    The metal pans used in traditional salt making were, as can be imagined, subject to a lot of  wear and tear due  to the corrosive nature of the very strong brine solution used to produce salt, the constant raking and skimming action of the lumpmen, the effect of the intense heat and, of course, the descaling which had to take place very frequently.
    Salt pans, in accordance with common engineering practice during the open pan era, were of riveted construction and repairs to the pans often involved replacing broken rivets.
    Sometimes parts of the pan wore so thin that patches had to be inserted to strengthen them, and these too were riveted to the original metal.
    Rivets (referred to in a peculiar Middlewich dialect inversion as 'revits') were heated on the spot,  placed in position underneath the pan by 'rivet-runners' (or 'revit-runners') and hammered flat from within the pan by the riveter and his mate.
    Obviously before any of this could happen the pan itself needed to be raised, and that's what the gentlemen in the photograph are doing, with the aid of a 'jigger', a kind of giant lever mechanism. The salt pans themselves had rings built into them so that they could be connected to pulleys and raised.

    Incidentally Leadsmithy Street, where the present day Waters Edge Medical Centre is situated, gets its name from the use of lead pans for salt-making, in the days before iron and steel could be produced economically. 

    Murgatroyd's Salt Works, Middlewich


    The easy way to keep up with the latest Middlewich news.




    (DIARY ENTRY ARCHIVED 25/7/2012)

    (This diary entry, announcing the closure of the Mococo Cafe facility has been left unaltered as a historical record - Ed)

    It has been announced that the Mococo cafe in Wheelock Street will close on the 25th July.

    Here's the full text of a statement from Middlewich Community Church.

    After a strategic review of the life and ministry of MCC it is with some sadness that we find ourselves closing Mococo. 
    In the present economic climate we have decided to concentrate all our youth and community work at our Brooks Lane facility.. All of the community Groups currently hosted / operated by MCC at Mococo (youth work, knit and natter, IT training, craft classes) will move up to the church complex over the summer months. This facility has more space and better parking, and brings all our work under one roof. For the time being the CAB (not a ministry of MCC) will still operate at Mococo on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

    Unfortunately the coffee shop in its present shape cannot be accommodated on Brooks lane at this time. We appreciate that our loyal customers ( young and old) will really miss Mococo. We wish to take this opportunity to thank the community for the privilege of serving them as MoCoCo (and previously Microchips) over the last 11 years. I also wish to thank our loyal staff: Amanda, Richard (Chocky), Jude and George who have provided our customers with far more than just food and coffee. We have helped the homeless find accommodation, prayed for people in times of need and distress, cried with them, laughed with them, counselled them and helped many people on their spiritual journey. It has been a privilege. 

    I know all the mums and children who use the coffee shop as a meeting place are saddened at this news and will really miss our facilities. Can I encourage them to visit MCC where they will find a warm welcome at our various community and toddler groups, art classes, craft days, kids and carers days, fun days and IT training centre. We will be developing new groups that will cater for the whole family and our coffee machines will be moving too to serve all our various groups and conference guests. Watch this space for summer activities at MCC. 

    With regards to the future use of the MoCoCo building it is our intension to seek planning permission to convert the building into starter flats for young people. Over the years our youth centre has helped young adults, especially the vulnerable, needy and carer leavers find accommodation. We hope to be able to provide six or seven flats within the building for local young people along side practical support and guidance that will help transition our clients into adult life.

    As you may already know MCC own  a large field (9.5 acres) opposite the Salt cellar. We will be seeking outlining planning permission for this site in the coming months as our long term desire is to build a new church and community facility on this site that will provide the people of Middlewich with a modern community and  conference centre that will eventually accommodate up to 1000 people. 


    Pastor David Moore
    Middlewich Community Church
    01606 835928

     5 Jul 2012

    Facebook Feedback:

    Peter Cox So sad to see yet another good facility, which helps a lot of people, close.

    Stephen Dent The proposed community and conference centre sounds really exciting, though. I look forward to seeing the plans.

    Jain Talbot I know that turning it into flats is beneficial for those in need, but it will be a major loss to the community.


    Monday, 2 July 2012


     Salt Town Productions

    Such an ordinary and unprepossessing looking building, yet so much a part of Middlewich that it's hard to believe that in a week's time this familiar scene will be consigned to history.
    Of course, it's not the building itself which will be mourned, it's the memory of all those birthdays and Christmases past when Niddries Toy Shop was part of the fabric of all our childhoods.
    Notice the sign warning motorists of 'oncoming vehicles in middle  of road'. Really there should also be another sign further down Lewin Street warning pedestrians of 'warning sign in middle of pavement'.
    One year on from the closure of the shop, we're starting to receive reminiscences of Niddrie's in  its glory days and Mike Jennings, Paul Greenwood and Bill Armsden have been out taking pictures of the shop as it prepares to meet its end.

    As many people have reported, the demolition of the building has already begun, as shown in the photo below.

    If you have fond memories and reminiscences of Niddries, please let us have them, either by e-mail or via Facebook, and we'll include them in our feature at the  weekend.
    Our e-mail address is
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