Sunday, 25 February 2018


Although the annual Middlewich FAB Festival has come and gone for another year, we're still collecting memories and reminiscences from 28 years of this pivotal Middlewich event.

The FAB 26 Guide 2016

If you'd like to contribute:

 See our Facebook Group

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                 and text us on 07808 063921

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The Middlewich Diary
29 Queen Street
CW10 9AR

First published 23/6/2015
Updated/Re-published 20/6/2016, 25/2/2018


Postponed from

MONDAY 26th February


Saturday, 24 February 2018


Here's an evocative bit of Middlewich ephemera. 'Number 28' on Hightown has in recent years  become so firmly established as a 'drop-in' centre run by the nearby St Michael & All Angels church - in effect serving many of the purposes of a church hall combined with a community facility - that it comes as a bit of a shock to realise that the building has had many previous lives since  its beginnings as one of  a plethora of Co-op shops established  in the town in the early part of the 20th century. 
Many will remember it as the second premises of Harold Woodbine Ltd, the first premises, not too far away in Lower Street, having been demolished in the early 1970s to allow St Michael's Way to be built. The original shop was approximately where the taxi rank opposite the Bull Ring bus stop now is. Even when the retail shop at No. 28 closed, Woodbine's electrical contracting business continued to occupy the rear of the premises. The business has now moved to Sandbach.
And for a short period starting in the mid-to-late 1990s the shop was part of the video lending boom, as can be seen from this membership card.
The fact that the shop's telephone number has a '1' in it shows us that the card must have been issued after the 16th of April 1995 (prior to that date all Middlewich numbers began 0606 83) but that doesn't, of course,  preclude the shop being open before that date.

In the 1980s and 1990s video, and later DVD, hire was popular in Middlewich,as elsewhere.
The huge, clunky VHS cassettes were invented in the early 1970s and and lasted until 2008 when DVDs, which started to become available around 1995, finally'overtook them in popularity.

VHS videos have vanished so completely from most people's lives that its probably necessary to remind everyone what they actually looked like.

The remaining lifespan of Apollo Home Entertainment almost exactly paralleled that of the VHS cassette.
The company, which was based in Sussex and  had branches all over the country, soldiered on, closing many branches each year, until the 30th of August 2016 when it was wound up. This was just a month after the very last VHS equipment was made. 

But can anyone tell us the year that the Middlewich branch closed?

Nowadays, of course, even the DVD has fallen from grace as the downloading and streaming of movies and TV programmes from the internet grows in popularity.

Many thank to Eleisha for permission to use her photo.

Number 28 in its current guise

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


The 'Tales of Wych & Water' CD, with reminiscences from people who worked in the Middlewich salt industry and on the waterways which served it, together with original music and song from local musicians, is available from Middlewich Heritage Trust.

'Tales of Wych & Water' was produced for Middlewich Town Council and Middlewich Vision in 2009 by Salt Town Productions.

Friday, 16 February 2018


Middlewich Town Council
Always a sure sign that the Middlewich year is well and truly underway, the Middlewich Oscars aims to recognise the many many people in the town who make a contribution. 
Community spirit is what makes any town interesting and worth living in.
And  Middlewich, whatever its critics might say, has community spirit in abundance.


First published on the 15th January 2018
Amended and re-published on the 16th February 2018

Thursday, 15 February 2018



An old friend of the Middlewich Diary, Carole Hughes, writes:

I hope you enjoy looking at these photos from Cerebos/RHM days.
I didn't work there, but my Mum, who is on the photos, did. Her name is Judith Sant.
Please feel free to tag anyone you know.

Many thanks to Carole for sharing these great photos, which all appear to date from the 1960s and 1970s.

As Carole says, please feel free to tag anyone you know (or yourself, if you're there!) on any of the Facebook groups and pages this finds its way to.

Alternatively, if you recognise any of the people in the photos, you can let us know the names by emailing us at the Middlewich Diary:

For convenience, we've numbered the photos so we'll know which one you're referring to.

Dave Roberts





Monday, 12 February 2018


 by Dave Griffiths.

When I joined the Middlewich Diary Photo Group a couple of years ago I posted these photographs of the beginning of work on the foundations for the Park Road Junior School, together with a scanned copy of the  programme for the opening of the  School in 1954, a document which was among my Mother's possessions when she died.

In the photos I can identify some names - Clive (my brother) with the glasses (and my arm stretched to his shoulder). Peter Bannaghan, Desmond Spilsbury, Norma Maddock, Joyce Coppenhall - not sure of any others. Please identify them if you can.

Regarding the Opening programme, it's interesting to note that the total cost of land, building, furniture and playing fields was the princely sum of £60,000. Happy days!

Many thanks to Dave for allowing us to share this. If you can help with any other names in the photos, please let us know either by email at

or via our Facebook Photo Page

Our main photo also appears as the cover photo on the Northwich & Mid-Cheshire Through Time Facebook Group, of which Dave is also a member.

Saturday, 10 February 2018


Photo: Mid-Cheshire Rail Partnership/Middlewich Rail Link Campaign
Here's a link to our archived sister website for a high-speed trip on the Mid-Cheshire line from Manchester to Chester. 
The film is a beautifully produced odyssey along the line, with strategic stops every so often showing the many attraction sf Stockport, Knutsford, Northwich and Delamere Forest.
There's a brief glimpse of the Middlewich line as it joins the main line at Northwich (see picture, above). As you can see, the current layout means that trains travelling to and from Middlewich, Sandbach and Crewe can only use the track on the extreme left which runs into the third platform at Northwich Station before rejoining the main line East of the station. It's possible that when the line is re-opened the connections to and from the main up and down Manchester-Chester lines may be re-instated, to allow our trains to use any of the platforms.


First published 10th February 2013
Revised and re-published 10th February 2018

Thursday, 8 February 2018


Chris Fuchs writes:

Hello there,

I follow the Middlewich Diary with interest and liked the picture in the article from 14th Jan which shows an aerial picture of the town from 1968.

Courtesy of Elaine Carlin


I fly a drone and recently attempted to take a similar picture myself for comparison. It's a fairly large panorama at around 60MB so can be quite slow to load and zoom.   


Obviously it's rather difficult to discern anything very much from the original photo as shown above, but this is no ordinary photograph.

If you go to the link provided by Chris:

you'll see a much enlarged version, in which some familiar landmarks can be made out.

Not only that; if you click  on this symbol:
you'll be able to zoom in on the picture and see modern day Middlewich in astonishing detail, from Andersen Boats on the left, to St Michael's Church in the middle, and on to Holmes Chapel Road on the right.

These are the instructions for viewing the picture on a pc. Obviously methods will differ for other types of computer and mobile phones.

Here are a just a few of the screenshots we've been able to obtain:

The classic view of St Michael & All Angels Church. To the left of the church is the end of Queen Street, and the King Arms Hotel. St Michael's Way curves away to the right, with Pepper Street on the extreme right. In the foreground are Forshaw's Funeral Services, Lex House (Waters Edge Medical Centre) and the Wharfinger's Cottage on the Town Wharf. 

The Holmes Chapel Road railway bridge ('Station Bridge') is on the left and the railway line itself can be seen heading off towards Sandbach and Crewe. This is the suggested site for the new Middlewich Station. In the background are the ugly industrial boxes of Midpoint 18 (now re-christened 'Ma6nitude', though how it is supposed to be pronounced  is anyone's guess)

Lewin Street: Left to right - Halfpenny Court, the library and 'Katy's Corner'

Queen Street. And it's a definite case of 'I can see our house from here!' Just look to the left of that large building in the middle of the photo. That's the Middlewich United Reformed Church (formerly the Congregational Church) and our house, not to mention the Middlewich Diary's multi-million pound office complex, is next door but one. You can just see our white framed back bedroom window. Below that, the white building with the black roof is our kitchen. I knew you'd be impressed. To the right of the 'Congs' is one of the town's architectural gems, no 25 Queen Street, a listed building and described as being built 'in the early 19th century'. Across the road is Fountain Fields (now known to many as 'Tesco Park', due to the proximity of the firm's main Middlewich store (or, as Middlewich folk have it, 'Big Tesco'). Beyond the Tesco store, the  white building marks the top end of Southway and the fringe of St Ann's Road. On the extreme left of the photo, just before Queen Street gives way to King Edward Street, is the Vicarage, which we will all, sooner or later, have to learn to call the Rectory. Top left are the Victorian Beech Street and West Street.

Kinderton Street: (l to r): The Kinderton Hotel, The Boar's Head, The Factory Shop
Lewin Street and its junction with Sutton Lane, which runs away to the top of the picture, crossing the Shropshire Union Canal and heading into the distance. The surprisingly large sprawl of the British legion Club is right centre

Hough Construction HQ in Brooks Lane. The Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich railway runs along the top of the photo
Back to Lewin Street and the familiar sight of the Victoria Building (Now re-christened, quite rightly, 'The Town Hall')and behind it the Victoria Hall (previously the Town Hall Function Suite and, before that, the Civic Hall). To the right of Victoria Building we can just see the Post Office and the Narrowboat Inn. In the background beyond the fire station and the Wych Centre is the seemingly postage-stamp sized Market Field, looking impossibly small but nevertheless the main venue for the FAB Festival each year. Top left is the Oaklands Medical Centre, and top right is the Community Centre.

- you'll no doubt be able to see much more as you zoom in and scan the photograph.Our thanks to Chris for sending us the link to this amazing photograph.

Just imagine how valuable Chris's photo and others like it will be to people living fifty years from now who want to learn about Middlewich in 2018.

There will undoubtedly be changes to the town over that period, possibly changes much more drastic than the ones which have happened since 1967/8.

How fortunate those future historians will be to have access to superb material like this.

Dave Roberts


Monday, 5 February 2018


Looked at thirty-six years after it was taken, this picture by Jack Stanier comes as something of a shock as we realise just how extensive were the alterations to Kinderton Street at that time. If you followed our pontifications earlier this year about Kinderton Street, you'll know that we have gradually revised our assumed dates for this transformation from around 1972 (when St Michael's Way was built) to a couple of  years later, which is why we've dated this slide at 1975.
In those days panoramic views of Middlewich could be
obtained by paying 5p for a trip up the Church tower
Jack was taking advantage of one of the occasional Church Tower open days which happened in those days on a regular basis. This one was in September (according to the inscription on the slide). We have already published my shot of the same view  before demolition began in earnest and a direct comparison of the two shots is very interesting. 
Kinderton Street before demolition began in earnest.
The two photos, for comparison

When you look at Kinderton Street today, it's hard to imagine that it was ever any different, but Jack's picture shows just how narrow the original road was, particularly at the top end. Quite a large proportion of that huge swathe of cleared ground in the middle of the picture is now given over not to traffic, but to a wide footpath and landscaping, and the actual usable carriageway seems only to have been widened sufficiently to bring it in line with the width of the road at Town Bridge and Station Bridge at either end.
The' black stripe' running along the left hand edge of that huge area is the temporary and rather precarious footpath which was placed high on the top of the bank to  maintain pedestrian access to King Street. Just how precarious this path was can be seen here.

The precarious pavement. A joy to negotiate on a pitch black winter evening.
Note in the background the huge bulk of (left to right) The Wesleyan Chapel, the CofE Infants School (now the site of Salinae) in Lewin Street and The Congregational Church in Queen Street

Ashleys, the contractors building the new carriageway, have established a base on part of the Seabank car park.
And on the extreme right of the picture, you can see that the cottages on the right hand side of Seabank are yet to be demolished.
Some of the features seen before in our in-depth examinations of Kinderton Street are present and correct.
On the right, the jumble of offices and houses which now make up the Kinderton Hotel can be seen, below the Boar's Head, and close by is another of those old GPO red phone boxes.
At  the top of all that cleared ground, Moreton's old farmhouse has disappeared and its modern and boring replacement can be seen just to the left.
Way out on the horizon, that white dot is the Jodrell Bank radio telescope near Chelford and, closer to home, we can just see the little wooden boat, peeping into shot bottom right, which became almost a part of the Town Wharf as she was moored there for many years. Her name was, I think, Tilley, and she was owned by Tommy Williams who worked all his life on the canals, eventually settling down to live in a cottage in Canal Terrace close to Middlewich Narrowboats.

Facebook Feedback (2016)

This diary entry's second outing on Facebook, in February 2016, brought this interesting crop of comments:

Peter Wakefield I was about nine years old and going to St Mary's RC Primary School in King Street, just around the corner, when this photograph was taken in 1975. On the town bridge there always used to be a crossing patrol managed by a local policeman. Outside the school in King Street there was a 'lollipop' crossing. The location of Middlewich Railway Station was just below the 'J' and to the left. That red telephone box used to take 2p and 10p pieces. Then Harold Wilson put the 2p price up to 5p. 'Don't forget to dial 100 and tell the operator to get off the line - there's a train coming!' or 'Can we ask the fire brigade if we can put some coal on the fire until they get there?' The white disc in the background is the parabolic dish of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank, which is owned by the University of Manchester. To the right are the Pennine Hills, Mow Cop, The Cloud, Macclesfield and Congleton. Further right still lies Derbyshire...

Paul Williams I remember that copper all too well. He kicked me up the arse for crossing town bridge when there was a car coming!

Geraldine Williams 1975? It took a long time for the re-development to take place then! Our home was on the right hand side of Kinderton Street - just opposite the digger on the photographe - and we had to vacate 1n 1967 when our house chimney collapsed. By that time, most of the adjacent properties were already empty.

Kevin Birchall Hard to believe how big the bend in the road was!

Facebook Feedback (2017)

Kevin Birchall I'm sure there used to be another phone box outside Chris Earl's at some point.

Geraldine Williams Yes, there was.

Helen Stanley What were those big brick archways that stood on the land where the factory shop now is? I used to think they were air raid shelter, but was told they were bread ovens. Anyone remember?

Geraldine Williams We lived for at while at 18 Kinderton Street in the 1960s and, to our left, was a deserted shop which I understood was formerly a bakery (Clewes?)
EDITOR'S NOTE, DECEMBER 2011: When we first published this photo we dated it as 1974 and argued that it was probably a couple of years later than its companion shot, also taken from the church tower which we estimated as being taken around 1972. Close examination of both pictures, however, seems to indicate that they were both taken in the same year, as so much in each shot is the same. And comparison with other pictures of the area show that the date of both is more likely to be 1975.  We have therefore revised the date of both slides to that year. This is the later, September, shot.

First published 3rd December 2011
Re-published with additional (2016) Feedback 6th February 2017
Revised and re-published  5th February 2018

Saturday, 3 February 2018


Photo courtesy of BILL EATON/JOAN SMITH

by Dave Roberts

Here's another offering from the collection of the late Frank Smith of Ravenscroft which, pleasingly, has Frank himself in the line-up and includes his informative notes too.
Once again it has been forwarded to us by Bill Eaton who whiled away many hours with Frank reminiscing about old Middlewich.
Frank spent a lot of his working life in the local chemical industry and had a wealth of knowledge about Brunner-Mond and I.C.I. and their connections with the local salt industry.
This photograph shows the Middlewich Alkali Works Rugby Union Team line-up for the 1938-39 season, quite possibly the last until the end of World War II.
Just look at all those 'old Middlewich' names: Ollier, Gallimore,Bailey, Sant, Noden.
Unusually, though, no one called Hough.
I was particularly interested to see that the team included Arthur W Scott. My late father had a friend called Arthur Scott, and I wonder if this is the same man? Rather a coincidence if he isn't.
The scene is the ICI Sports Field, also known as the 'Station Field' and home to several local events such as the Middlewich Show and Middlewich Carnival.
As late as the 1960s it was still a popular venue for travelling fairs and circuses and eventually became the home of the Dennis White Foundation.
The field long ago gave way to modern industry as part of the Midpoint 18 estate.
Frank helpfully allows us to find our bearings by pointing out the chimney in the left background which was part of the Kraft Dairies Cheese Factory which, along with the Nestles Condensed Milk Factory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, took advantage of the availability of high quality milk from the numerous farms in the area.
That chimney was approximately where the Shell Garage on Holmes Chapel Road now stands.
If you know the name of the number 11, or have information on  any of the people in the photo, please let us know in the usual way.

As can be imagined it is almost impossible to find the exact spot where that Rugby team of nearly three-quarters of a century ago was standing. This photograph, taken on the morning of Friday February 1st 2013, is the best we can do.
The field has gone and been replaced by the vast sprawl of the Midpoint 18 industrial estate.
The present day Shell Garage, former 'Little Chef' restaurant* and Travelodge which are built on the site of the Kraft Cheese factory lie just beyond the low building with the white roof.
The Rugby team may have been standing somewhere near where this car park is now.
The building on the right belongs to Vion Foods.

Many thanks once again to Bill Eaton for the original photo and information.

* Now (2018) a branch of Subway - Ed.

First published 1st February 2013
Re-published 3rd February 2018