Friday, 31 May 2013


NORTHWICH CARNIVAL 1963 Photo: Angela Jones/ Northwich & Surrounding Area Past & Present
Many Middlewich people travelled to Northwich Memorial Hall in the 1960s for appearances by
popular groups of the day including Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers and The Beatles who had a special affinity with Northwich and opened the town's Carnival fifty years ago this summer.

Here's a link to a new Facebook group featuring photographs of Northwich and surrounding area over the years. Middlewich is well represented, as are other towns and villages in Cheshire, but the main focus is on Northwich.
Those of us who lived in Middlewich but went to school in Northwich enjoyed the best of both worlds.


Thursday, 30 May 2013




(This Diary Entry was first published on the 14th March 2012, and re-published in updated form on the 31st May 2013)

The Big Lock in Webbs Lane  reopened in March 2012 following a major renovation and just in time for the tourist season. This old canal pub, which we've featured several times before in A Middlewich Diary, takes its name from the nearly Trent & Mersey Canal lock.

Many thanks to Cliff Astles for supplying the above photo of The Big Lock illustrating how the building of the new housing next to the pubs has restored the look of the area to something approaching what it was when the old condensed milk factory/silk mill stood in its place.
Whoever designed that new housing rightly concluded that the Big Lock building needs another tall building next to it to make it fit into its surroundings.
Take a look at the Big Lock in former days here (follow the links).

UPDATE (MAY 2013): On St Valentine's Day 2013 the Big Lock changed hands once more and was taken over by previous owners Ken and Jackie Pickles, who also ran it from 2008 - 2011.

The website for the pub can now be found at:

Saturday, 25 May 2013


A Middlewich sunset in early May 2013 photographed by Fiona Baker who, she says, was out for a walk, noticed the scene and captured it with her mobile phone.
It was taken just as the daylight was fading and before most of the lights of the town came on (a couple of them can just be made out glimmering through the trees) and shows us what is becoming a very popular subject for photographers, the Parish Church and Town Wharf from the Brooks Lane locks.
The whitewashed wharf buildings can just be made out in the gathering gloom (centre right), as can the  awning at Andersen Boats (left) and, of course, the tower of St Michael & All Angels church.
But we haven't published this photograph because of what it illustrates, but for its own sake and because of the mood it captures.
A moment in time in a town which is, slowly but surely, becoming a more attractive town to live in than it ever was before.
Regular Middlewich Diary contributor Jim Moores captured the same scene a little later in the evening in this memorable shot.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


This Cerebos Salt drum was, rather surprisingly, bought as recently as 2004.
 In fact, this style is still used today for Cerebos Extra Fine Iodised Table Salt.
Great prominence is given to the company's Royal Warrant showing that the company is a supplier of table salt and pepper to Her Majesty The Queen
 What is intriguing is that as late as 2004, which is not only well into the RHM era, but also within sight of its end, the company was still proudly proclaiming the fact  that Cerebos Salt was -
- with no mention of RHM Foods, which had taken over the company in 1968, or its short lived successors. The modern bar-code shows that the packaging is indeed of recent origin.

Also on the packaging is the familiar 'boy and chicken trade-mark, which we talked about here and much is made of the iodine content of the salt. Iodine is vital for health, although there are some people who are iodine intolerant and have to stick to non-iodised (or iodized or even iodated) versions of the product.
By now the original calcium phosphate anti-caking agent which had enabled free running table salt to be introduced in the nineteenth century had been replaced by the (presumably) more efficient magnesium carbonate and sodium hexacyanoferrate II, and the important iodine trace of 1150 microgrammes per 100g was added to the product in the form of potassium iodide.


Sunday, 5 May 2013


This entry was originally published under the title 'All Dressed Up For The Coronation - But Whose?'

by Dave Roberts
It is, of course, high time we dipped once again into the Mike Jennings Classic Collection, and this one is a classic indeed, although it's completely new to me.
When I first saw this photograph I jumped to the (not unreasonable) conclusion that it showed Hulme's Grocery on Hightown decorated for one or other of the Coronations in the first half of the  20th Century - 1911 or 1937.
It simply never occurred to me that there might be another explanation (see the comments from Geraldine Williams and Jim Moores, below).
I've left the rest of this Diary entry intact to once again show how the Middlewich Diary works when it comes to drawing in information and also to prove the old adage that two heads (or, in this case, three heads), are better than one...

I think I know when this picture was taken, and why,  but I can't be certain, because certain factors may not add up.
I think the King and Queen we're talking about are King George V and Queen Mary.
That picture of the King on the wall to the right certainly looks like George V. Extensive internet searches have not brought up that particular picture, but here's a picture of the King in question.

MUA photo services

Is it the same man?
George V and Queen Mary were crowned on the 22nd June 1911, and it's possible that this picture was taken on or around that day and shows some of the decorations which would undoubtedly have been placed all around this traditionally loyal town.
But, somehow, the picture doesn't look quite right for 1911.
For a start the quality is very good if the picture is over a hundred years old. This doesn't necessarily mean anything.
 Some of the early photographers were able to produce superb results with relatively primitive equipment and the photo could have been produced on a glass negative which was subsequently stored away safely for years.
My doubts arise from other factors:
Was Hulme's Grocery even in existence in 1911?
The HULME lettering on the front was the same for many years - right up, in fact, until the shop closed. But was it there in 1911?
(incidentally, that shop front can be seen here in 1938 undergoing repainting)
Also, if you look carefully, what appear to be electric light bulbs festoon the decorated shop front - no doubt coloured ones. Would coloured bulbs have been used as early as 1911 for this purpose?
Or have we got the wrong Coronation altogether, here?
Are these decorations for Middlewich's contributions to the 1937 Coronation of King George VI?.

Here's George VI on his Coronation day:

That certainly doesn't look like him on the wall of Hulme's, and although the picture on the other end of the shop isn't very clear, it certainly doesn't seem to be the dear old future Queen Mother either.
Perhaps George and Mary visited the town at a later date (he didn't die until 1936) and the town was suitably decorated for the occasion?
The problem with that theory is that I can't find any reference to a Royal Visit to Middlewich during that period.
King Edward VIII Photo: Creative Commons
And, in case you're wondering, it's unlikely that poor old Edward VIII was the King we're talking about. 
Not only does the picture on Hulme's wall not look like him but he was, as we know, never even crowned before scandal overtook him. He's most unlikely to have had time for a Royal visit to Middlewich or anywhere else during his short but eventful reign.
Not even Ultra-Royalist Middlewich would have put on such a display for someone universally considered to have 'let the side down'.
Perhaps the decorations weren't for a Coronation at all. Could it be that the shop was decorated for  the dedication of the war memorial in 1934 or some similar  ceremonial occasion?
I think it's doubtful.
The words GOD SAVE OUR KING AND QUEEN were always used for Royal celebrations - there are several instances in our 1937 Coronation film (link above) so it's unlikely that these decorations were for anything other than the celebration of someone's Coronation. But whose?

Geraldine Williams has come up with a very plausible alternative theory:
She says, 'perhaps it was celebrating the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935?'
Which would explain why the photo has more of a 1930s feel to it than an early 20th Century one. It would also explain the fact that the King has a beard in his photo on the shop wall.
Geraldine goes on to say, 'I got this information from Google, which bangs on about 'the rapturous Silver Jubilee celebrations'. I wouldn't want you to think I go that far back - well, not quite, anyway! By the way, I think the beard was a relic from his naval career. According to a TV programme I saw his wife, formerly Princess May of Teck, was brought over to marry his brother, but he inconveniently died before they could wed, so she got landed with George instead. Very Mills & Boon! George was also responsible for the change of the family name to Windsor, because of World War I.
And Middlewich photographer Jim Moores has sent us this picture of a souvenir mug which his Dad was given as a 13 year old to commemorate the Jubilee in 1935.

Many thanks to Geraldine and Jim for this additional information.
So given that, as seems likely, Hulme's was all dressed up for the Silver Jubilee in 1935, it would also seem likely that the decorations would go up again for the 1937 Coronation.
Hardly seems worth taking them down, does it?

Notice the large shop to the left of Hulme's. This was demolished at some point to enable a driveway to be created to the car park behind the Kings Arms - rather unnecessary as there is a perfectly good car park entrance just around the corner in Queen Street.
The gap was filled in again when the pub was extended in the 1980s, leaving just a narrow walkway to the back door of the pub.

Hulme's Grocery is no more, but the building still exists and continues the tradition of topical and festive window displays as THE ACCORD CLINIC

Saturday, 4 May 2013


University of Liverpool

Here's another Youtube video about Middlewich, this time created by students at the University of Liverpool as part of a wider project aiming at regeneration and development in the area. As regular readers will know, we're always in the market for videos which boost Middlewich, particularly if they contain logos which can only be described as Modern Design Classics...

Middlewich Town Clerk, Jonathan Williams writes:

The Students from Liverpool University have created a fantastic DVD and project about the canals, economy and community life of Middlewich. 
More than this, they are part of a regional project looking at regeneration, economic development and social awareness.
Middlewich Town Council and Middlewich Vision are very proud to have supported our students, and we hope that their final report is successful at a national presentation at the Lowry, Salford Quays on the 13th of May.
The first stage saw the Middlewich team gaining the top marks amongst all the selected towns, so we hope that further input from the Town Council recently will contribute to a successful conclusion to the project.

Our thanks to everyone involved for, once again, making our town look so good (and, equally importantly, recognising its  potential) and also to Jonathan for bringing this to our attention.




'The environment in which we live and work in has been shaped by our ancestors for thousands of years. 
Cheshire is a landscape steeped in history; it has been an industrial and agricultural land with established 
route-ways dating back to the Iron Age and engineered waterways from the Industrial Revolution. Each part 
of Cheshire is distinctive and unique. 
Brief: To capture an image of Cheshire, exploring the landscape both natural & worked and historic built 
environment. We also have a ‘general’ category that will allow more scope in terms of having a prize 
winning photograph that does not fit into an existing category. 
This exciting opportunity exists for young budding photographers, enthusiastic amateurs and semi– 
professional photographers to take part in the Annual ‘Your Heritage’ exhibition. All Photographic entries 
received will be displayed at the Folk and Boat Festival on 15th and 16th June 2013'. 

(from the Town Council 'Heritage' pages)