Tuesday 28 May 2019


Middlewich FAB Festival/Middlewich Town Council

Direct links:


Town Council Facebook Page

Saturday 18 May 2019


Wednesday 15 May 2019


Courtesy of JOHN CURRIE

John Currie writes:

On Saturday the 18th May, St Michael and All Angels will be open between 11.00am and 3.00pm for the Heritage Trail.

Learn about the town horse and the Moston Dragon and lots more interesting history.

St Michael & All Angels website

First published 9th March 2019
Updated a re-published 15th May 2019

Tuesday 14 May 2019


by Dave Roberts

In May 2019 'Harry Random' (a pseudonym) emailed The Middlewich Diary suggesting a 'Middlewich Riddle' which might intrigue people and generate a lot of interest. And it most certainly did...

Here's 'Harry's' original message:

This would make a fantastic (and completely non controversial) question for the Middlewich Diary, and I can promise you the answer will generate a huge amount of local interest.

Six inches can make a lot of difference, but it seems that since 1971 something in Middlewich seems to have officially reduced in size without some visitors and many residents even noticing.

Can you guess what the answer is?


'Harry' also provided a clue to the riddle:

'It's very important, very topical and everyone in Middlewich has seen it and knows what it is.'

I hadn't a clue, save for the fact that 'Harry's' mention of 'visitors' made me think that there might be a canal connection.

So we put the conundrum to the people of Middlewich via the Middlewich Diary and, as 'Harry' prophesied, created an awful lot of interest.

Here's the answer:

'Harry' writes:
I can't remember where online I found the black and white photograph below, but it was described as having been taken in 1971. The bit that I caught my eye was the height of the aqueduct is shown as 12'.0", yet the photograph that was taken in 2011 shows the height as 11' 6".

So what has happened to the missing six inches? - Has the bridge sunk, the road surface risen, was the old height measurement just an estimate, or is there another explanation?

The Aqueduct in 1971 - Max. Headroom 12 feet.

The Aqueduct in 2011 - Max. Headroom 11ft 6 ins.
So what happened to the missing six inches? Surely the road cannot have been re-surfaced so many times in forty years that it's risen six inches? And surely the aqueduct, besieged and battered though it may be by errant truck drivers, can't have sunk six inches? Or, as 'Harry' also suggested, was the height of the aqueduct measured incorrectly at some point, and the figure corrected in 2011?
'Harry' of course, never stints on research, and copied his original email tp Paul Cassell, who's a retired transport manager and consultant.

Paul offers us an expert view of just why that vital six inches 'disappeared'. While he's at it Paul also gives us his considered view of just what is causing the current problems with HGVs striking our poor, beleaguered aqueduct:

Dear Harry,

Thank you for the enquiry from yourself and Dave Roberts, I think I have the answer for you both. Nothing as dramatic as the aqueduct sinking or the road surface rising sadly, just a legacy of Britain joining the European Economic Community as it was known back in the 70’s!
As part of EEC road transport harmonisation in the early 80’s we were allowed to increase vehicle gross weights in line with those of most European countries, the most notable being the increase from 32.5 tons to 38 tonnes for maximum weight articulated vehicles with five axles. To ensure safety on the UK roads every road bridge was re-assessed for both weight carrying capability and appropriate signage for weaker bridges. As a ‘belt and braces’ approach weights were actually assessed for up to 44 tonnes+ as this was always on the horizon and is of course today’s maximum weight threshold.
Bridge heights also came in for scrutiny as many had either never been properly marked or hadn’t been checked since resurfacing may have reduced the height clearance or just not very accurately measured in the first place! The EEC regulations demanded clearance heights be marked in metric to one decimal place for visiting European drivers who only understood metric measurements and who had metric height warning signs in their cabs. We insisted that our old feet and inches measurements also remained as vehicle travelling height signs in feet and inches were a legal requirement inside cabs for driver information in the UK. Hence why all UK bridges now have both a metric and imperial sign either on the bridge or on the approach to it.
Arch bridges are also marked with ‘goalpost’ signs whereby the stated height is at the upper corners of the goalpost although the centre line through the arch will of course be a little higher, as is the case with Nantwich Road bridge. This is obviously to accommodate square bodied trucks although I know of one vehicle operator who could creep under the canal aqueduct with a milk tanker as long as he kept to the middle of the road!
The checking and re-signage exercise involved an element of calculation ‘rounding down’ which knocked a few inches off the exact conversion calculation particularly at high risk bridges. Originally at 12 ft the Nantwich Road bridge would have been 3.6m, but presumably on checking the height and observing the score lines in the brickwork, a decision was probably taken to round down to 3.5m which is 11 ft 6 inches.
Once all bridges had been assessed for load bearing and height clearance, computerised routing systems, truck-specific satellite navigation systems and good old trucker’s atlases provided by the Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association to their members were updated to (hopefully) prevent bridge strikes and collapses!
The problems now experienced at the Nantwich Road aqueduct, in my opinion, are because truck drivers are relying on ‘car’ sat nav systems, not helped by the fact that some mapping software used shows the road going over the canal at that point!!
Well you did ask……………………!!!!!!!!


Many thanks to Paul for taking the trouble to give us this highly professional reply to 'Harry's' question, and to 'Harry' for posing the riddle in the first place.

Congratulations to everyone who got the answer right, and especially to RUTH DUCK who seemingly came up with the answer within minutes of  the riddle being posted.

Thanks to the many people who 'had a go'. There were hundreds of highly original and ingenious answers, and quite a few people were 'on the right track' right from the beginning, even if they didn't quite get there!

Dave Roberts


Here's an intriguing Middlewich riddle from Harry Random (a pseudonym). It's one of those questions which might be answered almost immediately, or, then again, it might keep everyone guessing for a while. For what it's worth, I didn't get it. I didn't even come close. We've decided that if no one gets it in the near future, we'll give you the answer at the end of this month.

 UPDATE: We've decided that it would be a bit unfair to make everyone wait so long, so we're giving you the answer on Wednesday (15th May). You can give us your answers on any of our Facebook groups, or any of the groups we post links to, or you can answer in the form of a comment here on the Middlewich Diary -Ed.

Here's the riddle, in 'Harry's' own words:

Six inches can make a lot of difference, but it seems that since 1971 something in Middlewich seems to have officially reduced in size without some visitors and many residents even noticing.

UPDATE (14th May). Here's the clue which 'Harry' sent. It enabled your editor to get somewhere near, but by no means there...

'It's very important, very topical and everyone in Middlewich has seen it and knows what it is'.

Can you guess what the answer is?


First published 13th May 2019
Updated 14th May 2019

Thursday 9 May 2019


by Dave Roberts

The name Tannery Alley probably won't mean very much to those who haven't been Middlewichians for very long, but when we substitute Southway and mention Tesco things may start to become a little clearer.
Tannery Alley is, or was, the public footpath which runs from St Ann's Road and joins Wheelock Street alongside the former Bargain Booze off-licence (now blessed with the not much more dignified name The Booze Centre). 
Tannery Alley was long ago re-christened Southway.
Slightly confusingly the row of shops behind Drinks & Bites at 35 is also called Southway, as is the pathway running from Wheelock Street and up the steps to the strange 'pagoda-like' structure which advertises the presence of Tesco's supermarket to people approaching from that direction.
As Malcolm Hough, who sent us this photo, reminds us the alley did,  at one time, have a third, unofficial, name. 
When the Alhambra was in business as a cinema the locals christened it 'Picture Alley', as it formed a short-cut to that popular establishment for those coming from St Ann's Road and 'Newtonia'.
Of course many who were young at the time will remember that the rear door of the Alhambra was (and still is) down a little alleyway off what became Southway, and it was a relatively easy job to sneak through this door behind the cinema's screen, risking the wrath of 'Torchy', who, we think, was named after Torchy The Battery Boy, a popular puppet TV star of the 1950s. Or did his nickname pre-date this early Granada star?
Malcolm suggests, rightly, that this photo is just begging for a 'Now & Then' comparison and we'll be doing this just as soon as we have time to take a shot of that 'pagoda' which is approximately where these houses once stood.
Unless one of our many photographer friends would like to oblige?
To make our modern day bearings even clearer, the much-admired Barclay House is out of shot to the left. The prospects for this lovely old building are looking brighter now that Tesco has decided to dispose of all the property it bought up for its aborted Middlewich mega-store plan.
We have seen the old buildings in the photo before, again courtesy of Malcolm Hough, when we published this picture:

We first published this picture  here in 2011 under the title 'Mystery Picture' as we weren't entirely sure of the location at that time, although the 'mystery' was soon solved. That's one end of the former Orchard Works to the right and Barclay House is immediately to the left of what is obviously the building in the picture above. We can now see that there appear to be three houses here - two cottages and a fairly substantial house, the main entrance to which was probably at the front facing Wheelock Street.
Were these, perhaps, a couple of workmen's houses and a 'manager's house', relating to the vanished tannery which gave the alley its original name?
The other obvious question is, where did the name 'Southway' originate?
Incidentally, the resemblance between this little section of Tannery Alley and
White Horse Alley is quite striking.

We'll be returning to the scene with some 'Now & Then' shots soon.

Note: We've dated this photo provisionally as '1950s' due to the quality of the photography, although we're open to argument and correction on this. Was that building still standing in the 1960s?

With thanks to Malcolm Hough

UPDATE (9th May 2019):
In the four years since this diary entry was written, there have been changes in the area, the principal one being that 'Big Tesco' has gone, to be replaced by Jack's and that little 'pagoda' now has a 'Jack's' logo on it. The Booze Centre which replaced Bargain Booze has also closed to be replaced by an 'International Food Store'. Various other changes have happened in Wheelock Street. Soon this area will be completely transformed as plans to redevelop the area between Southway and Daerlington Street go ahead. When that happens 'Tannery Alley' will be an even more distant memory.