Friday 4 November 2016


by Dave Roberts

Another photograph from the Carole Hughes Collection showing Lewin Street as it was nearly thirty years ago, and packed with nostalgia.
On the extreme left we can see the distinctive bow window of the legendary and much-missed Howe's Bakery, home of what many consider the best meat and potato pies ever made.
Next to that is Roland Wilson's second-hand shop (or 'junk shop' as we weren't too fussy to call such places years ago). Roland was part of the family which ran Howe's Pies.
Roland was in the habit of buying up used stock of such things as gas mantles, oil lamp wicks and packets of 'dolly blue' and was a source of such arcane material long after other shops ceased to stock it.
He also supplied me with an inexhaustible supply of old valve radio sets (or, more properly 'wireless sets') as the transistor radio took over and people were anxious to get rid of their 'old-fashioned' radios.
The fact that the old sets sounded much better than the tinny and often trashy transistors didn't seem to be an issue for most people.
But those old sets are now cherished by the discerning and change hands on the internet for a great deal of money.
Roland also sold me boxes full of old gramophone records (and a wind-up gramophone to play them on) for 10 shillings apiece, as remembered in the feedback on the above link.
Nowadays even the most unpretentious 'junk shop'  refers to itself as an 'antique shop' and no one bats an eyelid at the hugely inflated prices paid for the kind of 'rubbish' we used to buy for next to nothing.
1987 must have been towards the end of Roland's time in the shop.
The next shop along the row is the 'Coral Reef' chip shop which took the place of what had been a Co-op butcher's shop.
By the 1990s the shop had become 'Giorgio's' and it is still going strong in 2016 as The Middlewich Fryer.
Next comes a row of small houses which, like houses all over the town, have gone up in the world a little over the last thirty years and then, slightly set back from the road, the huge Victorian bulk of the former Co-op Drapery Department, which by this time had become Oates  Builder's Merchants.
The builder's merchants are still on site (although the building fronting onto Lewin Street is long gone) and the establishment is now part of the Jewson's chain. There's more about this here.
Crossing the road, just to the right of the red van is the recently demolished Niddrie's Toy Shop.
Christmas 2012 was the first one in living memory without Niddries. Everyone used to look in the window to see what the latest trend in toys was, even if they didn't buy any of them.
And wouldn't it have been nice if that unusual red and white illuminated sign saying NIDDRIES COACHES had been saved to become an exhibit in our future Middlewich Museum?
UPDATE (November 2016): Actually, that sign has been saved and can be seen, neatly stacked, among the unsightly  ruins of what was once Niddries shop (photo follows soon). I wonder what will become of it?

Roman remains are all very well, but nothing is as poignant as something like that sign, which we've all seen countless times in our lives without many of us really noticing it.
Talking of signs, in the top right hand corner of the (main) picture is the bottom of the pub sign which tells us that the present day Narrowboat was, at that time, The Danes.
Slightly further up the street, next to Niddries, is The White Horse, in those days selling Ansell's Ales.


Facebook Feedback:
Rob Farmer: I've just been looking through the old pictures and it's absolutely fantastic. You've done a great job, really enjoyed it.

Originally published on the 4th November 2012
Reformatted, updated and re-published on the 4th November 2016

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