Thursday 9 August 2012


If you own the copyright on this image, please let us know
by Dave Roberts

This photograph of a rather forlorn-looking group of shops on Hightown in the mid-to-late 1960s is a companion to this one, and it's highly likely that the two were taken on the same day, possibly within minutes of each other.
On the extreme right we can see a small sliver of Brockley's wallpaper shop which later moved to Wheelock  Street in  premises  opposite 'Temptations' which are currently used by a financial services company.
The move didn't happen because  the original shop was demolished - it's still there and currently (I think) houses one of Middlewich's many hairdressing businesses.
The three shops on the left were not so lucky. The top one, which is partially obscuring the old Town Hall, was a dry cleaners - apparently operated by 'Marvell' - was this one of a chain of shops at the time?
Then comes a small, empty and unidentifiable shop and, finally, a shop which I always think of as a chemist's shop but also, at the time of the photograph, seems to be empty. Can anyone make out the name over the door?  Does anyone remember? I've been trying to make it out from the photograph, and it looks like it may have been 'Bradshaw', or something similar. If you know the answer, please don't hesitate to let us know.
I ought to know myself because, assuming that this picture was taken sometime between 1963 and 1969, I must have stood at the bus-stop across the road from them (outside the National Westminster Bank which is out of shot on the right) nearly every morning of my life waiting for the North-Western Road Car Co. bus to take me to school at Sir John Deane's Grammar School in Northwich.
So I had plenty of time to study these shops over those years.
We've seen them  before in our Middlewich Diary, of course, notably in this picture which was kindly supplied by Kath and Barry Walklate:

This rare view shows us that at least one of the shops we are looking at was the Carbineer Inn and that another was called Summerfield.
You can see the original diary entry on Kath and Barry's photo here.
As startling as the difference between the Hightown of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries may be, even more startling are the changes to the Bullring since the 1960s.
It's astonishing to realise that  the photograph below, taken just a couple of weeks ago, shows people enjoying the Middlewich Artisan Market nearly half a century after  those three forlorn looking shops stood, empty and abandoned and awaiting their fate, in exactly the same place.
The second Artisan Market in Middlewich, July 2012

Facebook Feedback:

Bill Armsden: Those two shops on the left...The far one was Marvell Dry Cleaners and you are right, they had a chain of shops. 

Two of them were in Northwich on Witton Street: One was where the cleaning was done, and the other was the shop. The company was owned by a family who lived at Stanthorne Grange. I know because I worked for them and I passed my driving test whilst in their employment.
I can't remember their surname, but the owner's son was called Geoff.
They ran a door-to-door collection service and Geoff, me and a couple of others operated that service. They were great to work for.
On the subject of the other shop: I think you're right, Dave. I enlarged it  in Photoshop and it looks like  'B.J. BRADSHAW' but that is mainly a guess.

David Morgan: I love the photo provided by Kath and Barry!

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