Tuesday 26 March 2013


Here's one for all our Middlewich aficionados. The puzzle we're trying to work out is the date of this picture of Middlewich Town Centre. There are various clues and indicators to be taken into account.
First of all, notice that the weather vane is securely in place atop St Michael's Church Tower. This went missing for a few years and, we seem to recall, was refurbished and put back in place just before one of the original Folk & Boat Festivals, which puts the date after 1990.
Below the church the late and unlamented 'piazza' is still in place, awaiting replacement by the much superior 'Roman Amphitheatre' we know today.
In front of the piazza you can just make out the old bus shelter with a sign indicating that we're still in the Cheshire County Council era.
Why, incidentally, did they put those steps in on the right of this lacklustre structure when there's a perfectly good pavement running right alongside? We'll probably never know.
On the left the Vaults car-park is still in unrebuilt form and a blackboard proudly announces the presence of BIG SCREEN SKY TV, so we're also in the early years of  satellite TV in pubs. Nowadays all pubs showing SKY TV have massive banners outside proclaiming the existence of SKY on the premises and the BIG SCREEN bit is taken for granted.
Middlewich's tall and quite elegant lamp posts are still in place, albeit painted grey instead of municipal green and there's no sign yet of the horrendous 'glorified patio heaters' we have complained about in more recent years.
And what, we wonder, are those pipes doing running across the road?
On the right of the picture is a collection of buildings which merits closer inspection...

On the left our poor beleagured butchered butcher's shop has become home to a video shop called 'Titles', although one of the windows seems to have been broken.
The hideous green wooden panelling which so disfigured this formerly beautiful shop has not yet been introduced, giving us the possibly unique sight of a video shop with MEAT PURVEYORS on the front.
In 2013 the shop looks much smarter as the home of the Balti Spice Takeaway.
Next door, sporting a white logo rather than the current red one, is...er...the Natwest Bank, about which the least said the better...
And to its right is the never-to-be-forgotten Dillon's, now part of Tesco's dwindling Middlewich empire.
'See you Down Dillon's!' was the cry in those days.
The red and white sign to the right of the shop is indicating that Dillon's was, at the time, the home to Middlewich Post Office, now situated in Lewin Street.
This picture rather makes it look as if the Post Office was a separate establishment but it was, as people will well remember, actually at the rear of Dillon's.
We think this picture was taken sometime between 2000 and 2005, but we are, as ever, open to correction.
UPDATE (27th March): In fact, we've already been corrected. Bill Armsden says:
'The street lights are still the old type, so do we know when the street lamps were changed? 24 Self Video were at No 12 Hightown during 2001/2 and by that time 'Titles' had gone and Balti Spice were there. So, before 2000 is my guess because that was the year we moved back here and Baltic Spice were already trading. Asking Baltic Spice when they opened for business might help date this picture too.'
(See also Bill's comment, below)
So when did the Town Centre look like this?
Middlewich, it's over to you...


  1. Dave, I have noticed that No.12 Hightown next to 'Titles' has not yet been opened as 24 Self Video. Titles had closed by the time 24 Self Video opened and it was opened, if I remember correctly, in late 2001 and closed early 2003. It was owned by Maria & Michael Duffy of Northwich. I hope this info helps date your picture better as we know know it is 2001 or earlier.

  2. Thanks for that, Bill. So we're talking about sometime in the 1990s.

  3. There's a National lottery sign outside Dillons which means the photo was taken somewhere between 1994 and 2000..

  4. Sorry to resurrect a dead thread but I wanted to narrow the years a little more. The National Westminster Bank rebranded as Natwest in 1995 so this narrows tings down to 1994-1995. I would lean towards sometime in 1995....

    1. There's no such thing as a 'dead thread' as far as the Middlewich Diary is concerned. We have the great advantage - indeed, luxury - of being able to update any diary entry as many times as we want. Many thanks for your comment!


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