Thursday 31 May 2018


Kerry Kirwan writes:

Middlewich Heritage Day on Saturday 30th June - our first step towards creating a better heritage programme for our town and making our service more accessible.

We're at Middlewich Community Church, doors open at 9.30am and finishes at 1pm. 

Our speakers are Dr Michael Nevell and Claire Moores, and we will be able to update everyone on the Brine Pumps project.

Only £4 a ticket, £2 for members of the Trust, 

For advance tickets please email

First published 31st May 2018
Archived 1st July 2018

Wednesday 30 May 2018


by Dave Roberts

This is the view from my bedroom window at no. 33 King Street in 1973. The Middlewich Archaeological Society is playing host to other archaeologists as they make a field trip to the dig in the field adjacent to our back fence. Many years later, this would also be the site of the Middlewich 'Community Dig'. The archaeological project of the early 1970s was headed by J D Bestwick of Keele University.

The field in question, alone among the fields bordering King Street, has not yet succumbed to housing development, but repeated attempts have been made to build houses there and there's no doubt that one day someone will succeed, ending forever the wonderful view of the town centre and the church we enjoyed for all those years.

In the background can be seen the site of the Seddons Pepper Street Works across the canal and River Croco. This seemed to remain empty for many years (although the 1975 Inland Waterways Association Rally was held there) until the Moorings was built. If you look carefully, you can see that the Middlewich we know today was slowly taking shape around the new 'Inner Relief Road' (St Michael's Way). Is it my imagination or can I just make out, on the low grey building to the left which is now Tesco Express and Pineland, the words CO-OPERATIVE SUPERSTORE?

Top right is Middlewich telephone exchange, once isolated in its own compound off Pepper Street but by this time just another building on St Michael's Way. The telephone exchange has since been much extended and now finds itself surrounded by the Powell House and Spindle Whorl Developments which link St Michael's Way and Wheelock Street.

A brief history of the various archaeological projects in the area over the years can be found here:


(pdf file - Cheshire Shared Services)

First published 22nd July 2011

Expanded and re-published 30th May 2018


Here's one from May 2011

From Facebook 30th May 2011

Dotted throughout these photographic memories are shots of what I like to call 'Middlewich personalities' (largely for want of a better word) and here's one of them.

George Robinson gave me some slides early in the 1980s of himself and his cronies from the dustbin gang (refuse disposal operatives, I mean) messing about in  the sacred confines of the Council Chamber.

Here George wields the Chairman's gavel. Ironically, he actually did become a councillor in later years.

For those who have not yet penetrated this Holy of Holies, the window behind George is the back window of the Council Chamber, and the roof glimpsed through it is that of the Civic Hall.*

*Now the Victoria Hall - Ed.

Editor's Note: As far as we can ascertain this slide never found its way to the Middlewich Diary, and we're pleased to be able to show you this photo of 'Scampy' (or was it 'Scampie', or even 'Scampi'? We'll probably never know.)
Given that this slide, along with the others in the series, was given to us in the early 1980s, in all likelihood we're seeing George as he was in the early to mid-1970s.
We've shown you many many photographs of the town and its long-lost buildings.
over the last seven years, but we should never forget that without its people - and especially without people like George - a town is nothing.

Facebook Feedback (30th May 2011):

Jonathan Williams (Middlewich Town Clerk) Not sure that's allowed. Mutiny on the Dustcarts?! Sacrilege; and a Dastardly thing to do. Maybe it was Muttley on the Dustcarts ! Wouldn't happen in my time.

George has cropped up a couple of times in The Middlewich Diary. Here are links to a couple of MD entries which feature him, including one featuring him as the intrepid driver of the renowned 'Orange Wonder'...


George at the helm of
The Orange Wonder


by Dave Roberts

It's That Man Again! The partly built Middlewich Piazza in 1972, and our old friend George Robinson (left) in his quest to try to be on every photo I ever took, observes the passing Middlewich scene after, no doubt, having just emerged from the nearby Vaults public house.
The massive Colditz-style retaining wall by the bus-stop is complete, but the steps and the bleak, uneven acres of dodgy-looking paving slabs (in sickly shades of white, pink and yellow) have yet to be put in place.
Interestingly, the War Memorial has already been placed in its new position and traffic flow over Hightown still runs from Lewin Street to Wheelock Street. 

If you look carefully to the right of that massive 'Colditz' wall there appear to be two policemen, obviously guarding this new gem of modern urban architecture from possible malefactors.
Well, maybe not, but at this distance in time people seem to have forgotten the outright hostility this unlovely and unloved development engendered. It was universally despised and loathed by one and all and, when it was replaced by the current 'Roman amphitheatre' in 2005 the whole town breathed a sigh of relief.

The Piazza and the town centre in the 1980s

First published on Facebook on 5th June 2011
Published on the Middlewich Diary 28th July 2011
Revised and republished 28th July 2017
and 30th May 2018


by Dave Roberts

For your delight and delectation, another shot of Middlewich UDC's 'Orange Wonder' dustcart in all its 1973 glory, this time showing its driver George Robinson, who was the brother of the legendary Middlewich barman Frank. On the vehicle's door (lower left) is the legend 'Frank Costello, Public Health Inspector, Middlewich UDC'. Frank was a member of the well-known local grocery owning Costello family. The weird circular black shadow on the left of the photo is the camera strap, a feature I still manage to include in the occasional photo to this day.


This photograph was first published on Facebook on 21st may 2011. The original Facebook feedback is featured below:

Dave Roberts For some reason, possibly mere coincidence, George Robinson appears several times in this series of photos.

Jonathan Williams
A reflection on 'The Dustbinmen' Granada TV series c 1969.Their dustcart was labelled Thunderbird 3.. surely given that it was brown and carried a load of stuff, it should have been TB 2. (TB3 was a rocket).No matter.George is doing a passable imitation of 70s icon & legend Dick Dastardly, of Wacky Races & Catch the Pigeon fame. Could never comprehend why George was shiny on top but Frank was 'with turf'.I shall come back to this scenario in due course.Costello influence went way beyond public health btw!

Dave Roberts Yes. Clarence Costello was Chairman of the UDC for many years, of course. As for the mystery of Frank Robinson's hirsute appearance, it's perhaps best not to speculate. In the end, though, it was - quite literally - a case of 'hair today, gone tomorrow'.

Geraldine Williams
Coincidentally, last night I met one of Frank Costello's granddaughters, whom I'd not seen for many years, in her home parish, St Columba's in Chester and we were reminiscing about family history and how Frank and Josie came back to Middlewich from Belper to take up the post with MUDC.

Jonathan Williams
Wasn't there some Celebrity status around Deirdrie Costello appearing in Coronation Street ?

Dave Roberts Oh yes. Dierdrie was in a lot of TV shows, including 'Crossroads', 'I Didn't Know You Cared', 'Not On Your Nellie', 'On The Buses' and many more. She always played 'brassy blonde' type parts.

Geraldine Williams  Deirdre's celebrity status is that she went to school with me!!! Ha ha!
She was also in 'The Full Monty' and according to her niece (see above) is now living in Buxton and is involved with theatre groups there.

We always called her 'Deardrie' but her mother Josie always pronounced it 'Daredrie'.......

First published 10th July 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 30th May 2018


By Dave Roberts

The Orange Wonder. In the early 1970s that hardy perennial 'Local Government Re-organisation' was in the air again.

There was talk of a 'Super Council' incorporating the Mid-Cheshire towns and stretching all the way to Sale in what is now Greater Manchester, but, as we know, Middlewich eventually became incorporated into the 'District of Daneborough' which, by some municipal sleight-of-hand, was renamed the 'District of Congleton' at the last minute.

The old Middlewich UDC, in its final days, did something quite remarkable to its fleet of vehicles. The council's official livery had always been a rather dignified dark green but the council decided that, in the trendy 1970s, this was far too drab and, decided to go to the opposite extreme. 

Everything was painted orange and blue, including this dustcart which the dustmen promptly dubbed 'The Orange Wonder'.
But it wasn't any old orange and blue, mind you. The official colours were 'tangerine and Delft blue'.

It had always been the custom to paint the town's lamp posts in council colours too but, thankfully, we were spared that. The 'Orange Wonder' is pictured here at its depot on the Civic Hall car park.

The buildings are still there and still, I think, in council use.

For many people the Orange Wonder will always be associated with its most celebrated driver, George 'Scampy' Robinson. 

George can be seen in our companion Diary entry:


This photo was first published on Facebook on 4th May 2011. The original feedback is below:

Dave Roberts If you're sharp-eyed and observant you'll notice that, even after all these years, and now that the Congleton Borough era has been and gone, traces of the old Middlewich UDC can still be found around the town. There's an MUDC sign in Chadwick Road and one at the entrance to Fountain Fields (although that one was, I think, put there by the CBC) and probably more. There are, too, many manhole and stop tap covers on our pavements with the council's name or initials on them. Of course, MUDC's main legacy is its successor, the Middlewich Town Council, which is one of the liveliest and most effective 'successor' parish councils in the country.

Sherry Hill-Smith You make a wonderful tour guide for these glimpses into the past - your narratives are interesting and fun. Thanks Mr. Roberts, I'm happy to be in your audience.

Dave Roberts Why thank you, Sherry. Much appreciated. Thanks also to Geraldine, Colin and everyone else who is contributing to our knowledge of these photos.

Colin Derek Appleton  And, of course, the shed in the background can still be seen on Civic car park !!!! not sure if its still in use though ?

Sherry Hill-Smith Yes, thanks to them too.
The shed, as of October 2010, was still in use. They keep a little street sweeper and a branded truck in there along with other assorted bits & bobs.
‎(that's the last time I walked thru the Civic car park.)

Dave Roberts Of course, when you refer to 'a little street-sweeper' you mean a vehicle, rather than a little bloke with a flat cap and a ciggie hanging out of the corner of his mouth?

Sherry Hill-Smith LOL! Like the little dude on the Aesop's Fables - with a twitching moustache and all!

Geraldine Williams I remember him well...!!! hahaha

Dave Roberts
I, like many others, am wondering if, as the years go by and Cheshire East & Cheshire West form joint committees and integrated county-wide services ('economies of scale', don't you know?), and, at the same time, the town and parish councils are given more and more powers we might end up with the situation very much like it was pre-1974, with a de facto 'County Council' and smaller district councils. Then the whole reorganisation merry go-round could start all over again.

Jonathan Williams You're right Dave. Thanks for the kind comments about the Town Council, and yes, we are being courted to take on more of the functions and services that have been carried out at Borough level since 1974. There will be big changes in the next few years, and the Town Council is gearing up to get ready...but we need the support of the people. First things first though.....I'll put in a requisition for a job lot of orange and blue paint !! Piecing the past promote the future.

First published 8th July 2011

Re-formatted and re-published 30th May 2018

Tuesday 29 May 2018


by Dave Roberts

This particular recipient of the MUDC's tangerine and Delft blue livery in 1973 is my favourite and is,quite possibly, unique.

Experts on vintage vehicles might be able to enlighten us. It was originally a steam roller but, according to the story its driver told me, had been converted into a diesel some time in the 1930s. 

Certainly it has a sort of home made look about it.

Note particularly the oil drum 'fuel-tank' slung high above the driver and designed to give Health & Safety Inspectors the heebie-jeebies.

Also of interest is the road-cone holder at the front, precursor of all the coffee-cup holders in posh cars to come. 

I don't know what happened to this venerable vehicle. Presumably it was scrapped.

This photo was first published on Facebook on 17th May 2011.

The original Facebook feedback is below:

  • Dave Roberts  I've just done a spot of googling and, although there are quite a few photographs of steam rollers converted to diesels, I can't see one that looks anything like this one.

    Jonathan Williams According to my records, this was the Town Clerk's company vehicle. And very well-deserved it was too. And there was an expense account to boot.....25 cubic gallons of steam per month plus all the cones you could grow. I have a similar vehicle to this day, as the upholder of the Town's traditions. Can't get the tangerine paint these days though, so mine is silver, in tribute to the recycling bins.

    Jonathan Williams  This is indeed a remarkable series, and as intimated before, I would like to investigate how we might best appreciate and promote such a wonderful archive as a Community. Perhaps we could discuss this soon Dave, with Kerry and I on behalf of the Town Council. Let me know what you think. This needs shouting from the rooftops. Oops..they disappeared !

    Dave Roberts I think that's a very good idea, Jonathan.

First published 12th July 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 29th May 2018

Monday 28 May 2018


We think this deserves as wide an audience as possible. Stephen Koralski travels the world, dancing as he goes, and visits some of the most interesting places on the planet. Starting, of course, with the most interesting of them all...

First published 14th August 2012
Re-formatted and re-published 28th May 2018

Saturday 26 May 2018


Here's one from May 2011

From Facebook, 22nd May 2011

End of an era. It's 1969. The Seddons works have been out of production for two years, but are still largely intact. The Trent & Mersey Canal has reached the end of its life as a commercial carrier and, for the moment, all is quiet and tranquil. The Wych House Lane Works (right) will be demolished and (eventually) give way to a lawned area below the Salinae centre, filled with market stalls and amusements come festival time. The Brooks Lane works in the far distance will become the home of Tarmac Readycrete and the only one of the Seddons premises to remain recognisable as a former salt works. The canal is already being used for pleasure boating, and this will increase over the years until there are far more pleasure boats than there ever were working boats.

Note: For a closer look at the Brooks lane works as it was at the time and as it looked in 2017 go to:

Now & Then: Seddon's Brooks Lane Works in 1969 and 2017

Facebook Feedback

Dave Roberts Beyond the Wych House Lane works on the right was the remains of another, earlier, salt works. My Dad took me to see it when I was a small child and one of its chimneys was still standing. This area is now the premises of Andersen Boats.

Jonathan Williams It's amazing, given the heavy industry of the past, just how rural the aspect of this stretch of the cut appears today. Who'd have ever expected a wildflower meadow and nature trail in the middle of the Flight of Three locks?

Dave Roberts Yes. indeed. It's a credit to everyone who's worked so hard to make this town so pleasant. A walk into town via the towpaths is a pleasure these days.
...of course, you'll always get some people who think these things just happen of their own accord, and aren't planned and discussed and worked on for a long time before they come to fruition.


It was a headline in the 'Middlewich Chronicle' in 1967 which inspired this series of slides. I well recall my Dad showing the front page to my Uncle Jim: CUT LUMP SALT WORKS TO CLOSE said the headline, over an article which told us all that the three remaining Seddons Works were to be closed down (Murgatroyd's had closed a year before, in 1966). It was decided then that, as big changes were on the way, they should be recorded. We decided to buy a Kodak Instamatic camera. These little cameras were all the rage at the time and, though far from the best you could buy, they were relatively cheap and very easy to use. They also gave very good results with Kodachrome film cartridges. We always thought the square picture format was a bit strange, particularly as the film in the cartridges was actually standard 35mm. This is one of our earlier efforts; Seddon's Salt Works in Brooks Lane in 1969, two years after closure.

This picture was first published on Facebook on 7th May 2011

The original Feedback is below and is well worth reading.

Colin Derek Appleton The old Brooks Lane !!! a bit of this original road still exists behind the tank wash. My dad grew up in a house which stood opposite these works roughly about where you can see the Seddons logo, there was a row of canal side cottages which were demolished late 40's or early 50's by which time my dad had moved up to moss drive.

Dave Roberts Seddon's works in Pepper Street and Wych House Lane have vanished from the face of the earth (although there is a gateway into the lawned area below the Salinae centre off Wych House Lane which once formed part of the works) but the Brooks Lane works is still recognisable as a former salt works. Much of the brickwork of the outer walls, for example, remains and currently gives protection to Tarmac Readycrete. In the right background you can see the lettering on the water tanks reading 'SEDDON'S SALT WORKS'. The signwriting was done by craftsmen from Wych House Lane.

Dave Roberts  The 'Men At Work' signs and the vast amount of mud around the place are indicators that the Brooks Lane widening scheme was in full swing. Note how narrow the original roadway was. The road widening scheme enabled the creation of the Brooks Lane Industrial Estate we know today.

Colin Derek Appleton I remember as a kid sitting on the canal bank watching the steeplejacks knock the last of the chimineys down brick by brick, starting at the top of course !!!!

Dave Roberts ‎...and out of sight to the right, behind the embankment, is a small spur off the Trent & Mersey Canal (where the canal makes a right-angled turn to descend towards the town centre). This was originally a loading bay, served by a tramway from the salt works across the road. It will have fallen into disuse when the railway came along, but still exists today as a dry dock.

Geraldine Williams  Fred Dibnah would have had a field day...! (Did once see him in the Boar's Head tho')

Ian Murfitt Demolishing brick by brick from the bottom is much quicker. When I was a kid they demolished the Burwell brick factory near my home in the fens. Being remote they chose to blow it up. Being the fens we had a brilliant view from 7 miles away. KERBOOM ! What more could an 8 year old boy want?

Geraldine Williams Nah! Fred + fire + klaxon + 'Did you like that?' : Priceless!

Ian Murfitt  PARP ! Reet lets go to the Pub!

Dave Roberts We've more of Seddon's chimneys to come (of course). but here's a thing: a fellow I was talking to in the Kings Arms one night in the 1970s, who had been born and brought up in Middlewich and knew the town 'like the back of me hand' was prepared to bet me anything I liked that all of Seddon's chimneys were round rather than square. Isn't it funny how the mind plays tricks? I didn't take his money. Or more likely he wouldn't give it to me...
And talking of Fred, I was watching a re-run of the Fred Dibnah Story on Yesterday recently, and it was noticeable that, in most cases, he never had time to blow his klaxon, being too busy running for his life to avoid being engulfed in tons of bricks.
 The last episode was entitled 'Approaching Sixty' and I sat smugly watching the now somewhat aged Fred talking about 'slowing down' and 'taking things a bit easier'. Poor old Sod, I thought. Then I suddenly realised how old I am myself. Bummer.

Ian Murfitt People think that he parped the horn to warn by standers that the chimney was falling actually, it was a signal to the pub on the corner "I'm still alive..Get em in!"

Jonathan Williams And of course the Murgatroyd's brine pump was sited just to the east of the tankwash and exists to this day. The Town Council, led by our Heritage Officer Kerry Fletcher is working up a Conservation Management Plan for the pump and its housing as we speak. There will be a very interesting display and exhibition at the Town Wharf during the FAB Festival 17-19 June. It is the only known example of a pump remaining in situ, ie sitting over its shaft. Piecing the past's not just a strapline...for Middlewich Town Council, it's a philosophy. And quite right too !!

Dave Roberts‎'s a very good strapline, too, though. I did an audio job for Kerry a while ago, editing and transferring to CD an interview George Twigg (he of Salt Museum fame) did with one of the pump's operators in about 1967, after the works had closed but the pump was being used to pump brine up to the Murgatroyd's Works in Booth Lane (recently demolished). In the background can be heard the sound of the pump operating and, amazingly, the sound of trains passing by on the Sandbach-Northwich Railway, at least one of them steam-hauled. It's great to be able to preserve these little moments of history.

Editor's Note: Colin Derek Appleton did some research into the 'round versus square' chimney question to find out why the salt works ones always seemed to be square. The answer appears as part of the feedback to another photo, but is remarkably simple: Salt works chimneys were designed as part of the works and were built into the salt works walls as part of the works' structure. It was thus easier to build them square rather than round.

First published 9th July 2011
Re-formatted and re-published 26th May 2018

Friday 25 May 2018


Now re-opened - the Turnpike, Cledford

The Turnpike in Middlewich is under new management
It reopens Friday 25th May 2018
Doors open at 1pm till 1am
Disco and  karaoke Friday and Saturday nights
A lot of work has been done in the last week but there’s still a lot to be done!
The Turnpike is a lovely pub with alot of potential -
Theres a lovely Big lounge bar for family parties , discos , meetings and much more, or there’s a pool room n darts or just to watch the sports
There’s plenty of outside space with seating areas and plenty of parking
More changes are planned to improve the look of the building plus more events will be introduced within the coming months
Hope to see more people visiting the Turnpike over the next few weeks!

Thursday 24 May 2018



Middlewich Town Council
A special commemoration of the Battles of Middlewich which took place during the English Civil War - the first battle on the 13th March 1643 and the second on the 26th December in the same year.

A vivid description of the chaos and confusion brought to the town by the warring factions can be found in Allan Earl's Middlewich 900-1900 (Ravenscroft Publications 1990) (see Page 60 onward)

'Civil war in a small town like Middlewich must have been horrifying to its occupants.The townspeople would have been terrified of the men from both sides of the conflict. They were heavily armed and strangers, who no doubt pillaged to satisfy their greed and took advantage at every opportunity.
It is possible to envisage to some extent the confusion and noise in the narrow streets where the cottages crowded cheek by jowl  in the vicinity of the Church and to imagine the shouts of fear and anger as the smoke of the fire engulfed the houses. 
But the reality of a town awakened by Civil War on a March morning in 1642 is probably beyond our comprehension.'

Note that Allan has the year as 1642 rather than 1643. Malcolm Hough tells us that C.F. Lawrence's 1894 History Of Middlewich also gives the year as 1642. It most certainly wasn't 1943! (See below) - Ed

The classic account of the battles of Middlewich is contained in Ormerod's History of the County Palatine (1882).

Programme Part 1. Courtesy of Kerry Fletcher, Middlewich Town Council

Programme Part 2. Courtesy of Kerry Fletcher, Middlewich Town Council

The following photos show something of the re-enactments in the churchyard by the English Civil War Society
Pat Nancollas/Malcolm Hough

Pat Nancollas/Macolm Hough

Pat Nancollas/Malcolm Hough

Editor's Note: Many thanks to Malcolm Hough who pointed out that when this was first published we had the year of the battles down as 1943! As you can see, this has now been corrected....

First published 24th May 2015
Expanded and re-published 24th may 2018

Friday 18 May 2018


Middlewich Town Council
(Otley Bellman)
(Sandwell Town Crier)


SATURDAY 19th MAY 2018
10am - 3pm

Middlewich Mexon Street market/Middlewich Town Council
Middlewich Mexon Street Market/Middlewich Town Council
Middlewich Mexon Street Market/Middlewich Town Council
Middlewich Town Council

Middlewich Mexon Street Market/Middlewich Town Council
Please note that as of 11th May 2018, some, but by no means all, of the Royal Rocks have been found. Please check the Mexon Street Market Facebook Page for the current situation (link below).


Middlewich Rose Fete & Children's Festival
Middlewich Town Council




Our special mastheads for the May Mexon Market:


First published 11th MAY 2018
Updated and re-published 18th May 2018