Friday, 30 August 2019


'Fountain Fields' in its 1960s heyday  (Photo courtesy of Elaine Carlin)
by Dave Roberts,

I'm writing this on the eve of the long-awaited re-opening of Fountain Fields on the 31st August 2018. The Middlewich Diary has had a grandstand view of the re-building of the 'park' over the last few months and watched in fascination as what is now for the most part a much-enlarged children's playground has taken shape. We've even taken a few photos of the work, and these will be added to this diary entry when time allows..

Many people have expressed curiosity as to the origins of the name of our recreation ground and there was even, for a time, a proposal to build a 'fountain' of sorts as part of the new facilities, but this was later dropped in favour of a Middlewich-themed sculpture.

(See 'Windows of Middlewich' below).

In our usual slapdash fashion we gave the world the benefit of our own theories as to how the name came about. In fact we can tell you exactly what we said in reply to one correspondent:

As far as I know, the name Fountain Fields was dreamed up in 1952 when the Middlewich UDC had the recreation ground built (it was opened just a couple of months before I was born). Prior to this the area was known as 'The Sandhole', a somewhat mundane name which wouldn't have lent itself to such a facility. There used to be a children's paddling pool on the strip of land behind the bowling hut which is now the private access road to the houses further down towards Wheelock Street. Perhaps this was the origin of the idea that there once was an actual 'fountain' there? Of course I may be wrong - perhaps there really was a fountain there at once time? If anyone knows, I'd love to hear about it. Incidentally, I earlier used the term 'recreation ground' advisedly. Although it's sometimes called 'the park' it was never really a park as such. Just the closest we could get to such an amenity. There was a time when the flowerbeds there were very attractive*, but this aspect of Fountain Fields has been rather neglected in recent years.
* See our main photo -Ed

I've absolutely no idea quite why I should have replied to the query in this way, missing out the information on the town's water supply which I had, of course, known about since at least the early 1980s when I was one of the founders of the Middlewich Heritage Society. In fact I quoted a Heritage Society source in an earlier Middlewich Diary entry:

... if you're wondering where Fountain Fields gets its name from, it seems that  in the 19th Century the area was a source of water for the town. There were three wells, feeding into two storage tanks, one of which was called 'The Fountain'. These tanks, in turn, fed water into the 'Town Spout'. We're grateful to the Middlewich Heritage Society for this information. 

Well hastening to put us right in his own inimitable way (and in no uncertain terms) is none other than 'Harry Random' (also sometimes known as 'It's Random'), the scourge of our local politicians.

Here he is setting the record straight (and not being able to resist having a little dig)

I have read much about the history of Fountain Fields but much of it has been speculation and lacking any real supporting evidence. Dave Roberts recently put a post on Facebook stating "....Perhaps this was the origin of the idea that there once was an actual 'fountain' there? Of course I may be wrong - perhaps there really was a fountain there at once time? If anyone knows, I'd love to hear about it.".
So here are some 'facts' which can easily be confirmed and expanded upon with just a little bit of research:
Middlewich Fountain Fields park is believed to have got its name due to the evolving history of the well that was once located under the huge Tesco sign* at the junction of Queen Street/St Annes Walk (now also known as the service road which runs alongside the 5-a-side pitch). This was a very important well in Middlewich and was in use even before the 1870s.
Many public wells were later updated to become manually operated water pumps and with the advent of water mains some of these wells were turned into public drinking fountains. The land which is now the park has never been developed so in time it became known as Fountain Field or Fountain Fields even though the well and later drinking fountain are both long since gone.
The sand pits which have been mentioned previously in relation to Fountain Fields now lie under the majority of the Tesco delivery yard and storage area appear to have been first used during the late 1870s and early 1880s and but by 1898 this area was referred to as the location of an "old sand pit"

Harry Random

Note: We do, of course, know 'Harry Random's' real name, and his other aliases, and so does everyone else. We'd be happier using that real name, but we'll settle for treating 'Harry Random' as a pen name.

*now gone, along with 'Big Tesco', although the framework survives and will in due course be sporting a new and different supermarket sign -Ed

The Orchard Works which, until the 1970s stood on part of the car park which is part owned by Cheshire East and - at the time of writing - Tesco. Fountain Fields is away to the right, behind the trees, and the sand pits which 'Harry' speaks of would at one time have been out of shot to the left where St Ann's Walk meets Southway and St Ann's Road. It's possible, of course, that those sand pits once covered a much wider area.
The Tesco roadside sign in Queen Street which disappeared on the 18th August,  the night 'Big Tesco' closed. Was this the site of one of the wells/water pumps which gave 'Fountain Fields' its name?
The goods entrance to the former Tesco store  at the top of Southway. Was this the site of the original 'sand pits' which gave 'The Sandhole' its name?

A rare example of a 'successor' local authority giving credit to its predecessor. This plaque, erected by Congleton Borough Council in the 1970s, has survived and now adorns the gate of the 'new' Fountain Fields

The original MUDC sign. Adding weight to what 'Harry' says is the fact that the entrance to Fountain Fields (or 'Field' as the original sign says) is just a few steps away from where one of  the original wells, or pumps, was situated on Queen Street (or, at least, what was to become Queen Street). We'd always, for some reason, imagined that it was nearer to where  the former Tesco supermarket now stands, making it closer to the town centre. Note that this sign refers to 'Fountain Field' in the singular.

Special MD Masthead for re-opening day

Note: This diary entry is based on this earlier entry
Fountain Fields Signs 1952 and 1974

First published 30th August 2018
Re-publ;ished 30th August 2019

Monday, 26 August 2019


The Roberts Collection


Film © Salt Town Productions 2017
By Dave Roberts

Bank Holiday was produced by the Mid-Cheshire Amateur Cinematography Society circa 1937.
The film shows the adventures of a group of friends venturing out from Wheelock (that fine old house at the top of the bank is still there, and looks very much the same today)

and into the Cheshire countryside around the River Dane near Middlewich, the Beeston Castle and Tarporley area, Bostock and the Shropshire Union Canal.

Highlights are:

Precious seconds of footage showing Middlewich station in its heyday. To get to Beeston Castle & Tarporley station, our travellers would have had to change at Crewe. They're on the wrong platform for the Crewe train...

Scenes featuring the long-vanished Beeston Castle & Tarporley station on the Crewe-Chester line.

Glimpses of the Nag's Head Hotel in Wheelock. 

An old black and white milestone on the Middlewich-Northwich Road at Bostock, which is still in exactly the same position today and, despite the depredations of  modern-day road traffic, looks just the same as it did eight decades ago.

And much more.

Watch out, towards the end of the film, for the scene in which several of our tired and weary Bank Holiday revellers are picked up by a horse and cart in a leafy Cheshire lane. This scene wasn't planned in any way; the cart just happened along as filming was taking place, and the driver was happy to be a part of the proceedings.

...and what better destination could you have than the one so stylishly depicted in this long-vanished signpost?

I've loved this film ever since I first saw it when I was a small child. It features many of my relations and their friends. Uncle Bill (Oakes), once of Three Willows in Mill Lane Middlewich, is the man who (heroically, we always thought) falls into the River Dane in an attempt to retrieve his cap. Uncle Bill also wrote the script (or 'scenario' to use the term current at the time).

Auntie Winnie and Auntie Evelyn are also very much in evidence, Auntie Winnie (Uncle Bill's wife) as one of the hikers, complete with rucksack, and Auntie Evelyn  wielding a camping kettle and primus stove four minutes into  the film. Auntie Evelyn, incidentally, was married to Clifford Ridgway, and older Middlewich residents may remember her as the proprietor of Ridgways Newsagents in Wheelock Street, more recently known as Chisholm's.

But the undoubted star of the show is my Dad, Arthur, playing the unlikely role of an angler whose love of angling is only surpassed by his love of bottles of beer. 

In real life Dad hardly ever touched a drop, but that's real acting for you.

In case you're wondering which of the two bicycling fishermen is Dad, he's the one in the lighter coloured hat.

If you recall all those old-fashioned Western films, you'll remember that the 'goodies' always had lighter coloured hats than the 'baddies'. Not that the other fellow was a 'baddie', of course, but it does make identification a bit easier...

There's a lovely shot in the film showing one of Dad's prized possessions, a Victorian gold pocket-watch which was passed on to him by his father.

That same watch is now one of my prized possessions, too, and still keeps perfect time.

A word about the music: Over the years this film has been shown with various tacked-on musical accompaniments, but I've always known the exact song which  would make the perfect companion to these 1930s Cheshire frolics: Albert Whelan's immortal I'm Happy When I'm Hiking - and I'm pleased to be able to marry film and song together for the first time here. 

Albert's classic song is augmented by other appropriate music from  Jack Hylton, the Andrews Sisters, the New Concert Orchestra and Jack Leon & His Band. Making a virtue out of a necessity, we've spliced together Albert's version of this quintessential hiking song with Jack Leon's version at the start of the film. Can you tell where the joins are? Albert Whelan's unedited version, in its entirety, is played over the closing sequences and titles. It took a lot of fiddling about to do all this, but that fiddling can best be described as a 'labour of love'!

You'll note that one of the pieces used is It's That Man Again, the theme tune to Tommy Handley's wildly popular radio show of the same name,  usually abbreviated to ITMA.
This is included for a very special reason:
As noted (below) the films in the Roberts Collection ended up in the North-West Film Archive at Manchester University.
In the early 1990s Granada TV, then at its original home in Quay Street, Manchester, was still in the business of making 'regional' programmes for transmission only in 'Granadaland', aka the North West. 
One of the company's programmes for 'local' consumption was a nostalgic documentary series called The Way We Were, narrated by Stuart Hall, which contrasted life in the North West in the 1930s, 40s and 50s with life in the early 90s.
The team at Granada would often call me to ask for copyright clearance on little bits of the films in the  Roberts Collection for inclusion in this nostalgic series, thus making Dad and Uncle Bill and other members of MCACS latter day TV stars, 60 years or so after they made their films.
The production team at Granada were very fond of using It's That Man Again as background music because, although ITMA is usually thought of as a wartime show, it actually started in the late 1930s and continued after the war until Tommy Handley's death in 1949. The ITMA theme is a 1930s classic, redolent of the rather desperate optimism of those fretful times. Our film features the full studio orchestra version which is included here as an oblique remembrance of Granada TV and all the staff who were sold down the river when the bland and boring national 'itv' usurped the proper regional service which we valued so much and which has been taken away from us.

Although the music still sounds great, sadly the picture quality on this version of the film is awful, bordering on abysmal. This is due to the fact that, owing  to unfortunate circumstances,  I've had to use a copy of a copy of a DVD of a video of the film (if that makes any sense) in order to bring it to you at all.

Like all the rest of the Roberts Collection of films, the original of Bank Holiday resides in the vaults of the North-West Film Archive in Manchester and I hope, in the fullness of time, to be able to show you a much better and much clearer version.

If you've been so kind as to read through this rambling introductory rigmarole rather than going straight to the link to the film, here it is again to save you the trouble of scrolling back to the top of the page.


Film © Salt Town Productions 2017

First published 25th September 2017
Re-published Bank Holiday Monday, 7th May 2018
Bank Holiday Monday, 26th August 2019

Sunday, 25 August 2019


Mike Jennings writes
Hi Dave. I am not sure we have seen this photo before? I have  found with it the letter my father got about the closure of Middlewich ICI.

Actually we have seen the photo before. It's the commemorative photo given to employees of ICI Middlewich when it closed in 1962. We last looked at it in this Diary entry which dates originally from 2014 and was re-published last July. Bevan Goodall, who left the works in 1960 and now lives overseas was able, belatedly, to obtain his copy via the Middlewich Diary. There are also links in this Diary entry to other photos of ICI Middlewich:


But we've never seen the accompanying statement from ICI concerning the closure of the works and strongly suspect that former employees won't have seen it either since its original distribution in 1962. It's very simply produced (most likely on a Gestetner or Roneo stencil machine - the usual technology at the time for producing bulk copies of anything) and undated, with no ICI logo or letterhead and no signature, and appears to be a simplified version of the company's Press Release to 'national and local press' concerning the closure. It was probably included in employees' wage packets.

What's interesting is that it not only announces the closure (without actually giving a firm date) but also gives reasons why the works is closing, and how the company proposes to maintain production of soda ash at Lostock and Winnington (now itself closed).

Because the text in the original is a little difficult to read, we've transcribed it here:


The Alkali Division of ICI announces with regret that owing to a change in the pattern of the alkali trade brought about by the increased production of electrolytic caustic soda it has decided to shut down its Middlewich works towards the end of 1962 or early in 1963.
Middlewich is one of the smallest of ICI's works in Mid-Cheshire and accounts for less than 10% of ICI's soda ash capacity in the U.K.
Supplies of soda ash will not be affected as production is to be transferred to the much larger works at Lostock and Northwich, which have recently been modernised and extended.
ICI will offer alternative employment to as many as possible of the 250 employees affected and it expects to be able to place most of them. Those to whom alternative employment cannot be offered will be treated under the normal ICI arrangements for redundancy, each according to his individual circumstances.

The Division employs nearly 10,000 people, over 8,000 of them in Mid-Cheshire.

Future expansion of sales is likely to be met from the large plant at Winnington where at present all of the sodium carbonate produced is converted to caustic soda and other alkali products. With increasing supplies of caustic soda as a by product of electrolytic chlorine production sodium carbonate capacity is being released at Winnington. It is proposed to install modern plant there to produce soda ash for sale.

In more recent years most of the old ICI Middlewich site has been the location for Pochins Ltd and some of its associated companies. The collapse of the company was recently announced. The southern end of the site was, from 1971 until the year 2000 the location for ERF's Service Centre. Those buildings are still being used by the motor industry, but it is unclear what will happen to the area used by Pochins. A few of the former ICI buildings remain on the site, as do the wrought iron gates situated behind the modern Pochin office block.

In a poignant ceremony in July this year, the recently re-furbished works war memorial and memorial garden were formally re-opened by Lord Grey of Codnor.



Sunday, 18 August 2019


The Middlewich Diary's Easter Quiz raised £50 for the British Heart Foundation. Here, rather belatedly, is the letter acknowledging the receipt of our cheque. Many thanks to all who helped to organise the quiz. and everyone who took part. Future quizzes will take place at Christmas, Easter and June (subject to confirmation)  and will raise money for the Middlewich Community Mayor's Charities. Details will follow soon. Dave Roberts, Editor.


by Dave Roberts

Cheshire people don't waste words.

They'll disregard unimportant ones whenever possible and tell you they're 'going pub', 'going shop', 'going work'.

They don't even bother, as Yorkshire people do, to shorten the word 'the' to a token 't'.

So it's hardly surprising that what others might call something like 'the main Tesco Middlewich store', or the 'Tesco Superstore' was referred to by townspeople, in recent years at least, simply as 'Big Tesco'.

The name 'Big Tesco' came into use when the company took over the smaller convenience stores in Middlewich town centre and Warmingham Lane.

'Big Tesco' was only in existence for around nine years, but it left its mark and in that short time became something of a Middlewich institution.

As long ago as the 1960s plans had been mooted to build a supermarket in Middlewich; something which surrounding towns were also enthusiastically considering.

It was the Co-op which first came up with the idea for a Middlewich 'superstore' but the Middlewich Urban District Council - which was at that time almost indistinguishable from the Middlewich Chamber of Trade - resisted, in order to 'protect existing businesses'.

In the early 1970s the Co-op built their 'superstore' in the Bull Ring.

A relatively small part of this huge building is still in use as a Tesco Express convenience store, but most of it is empty.

The huge space at the rear of the premises was last used as workshops and storage space for Pineland Ltd, who also occupied the former Co-op Chemist's department to the right of the convenience store under the benevolent stewardship of 'Pineland George'.

So it wasn't until 1987 that Middlewich's first real supermarket was built by Gateway.

Southway in 1987. The Gateway Supermarket, later to be Somerfields and then 'Big Tesco' can be seen under construction in the background. You'll notice that there doesn't seem to be an entrance on this side of the supermarket as built. If anyone has photos of the premises in its early Gateway or Somerfield days, we'd love to see them. Other sites considered for our first 'real' supermarket were Middlewich Football Club and Chester Road, where the Lidl supermarket is now.

The history of Gateway and Somerfield, like the history of all supermarket chains, is complicated and convoluted. The original Gateway could trace its history back to 1875, and its chain of supermarkets began operations in 1960, mainly in the South of England. The company was very ambitious and, over the years, acquired such well-known names as KwikSave and FineFare. The name was changed to Somerfield in 1998. Gateway Middlewich opened in 1987 as our town's first proper supermarket.
We're grateful to Margaret Peterson who tells us that the opening date was either the 17th or 18th August that year. This would mean, rather fittingly, that the store was open under Gateway/Somerfield and Tesco for thirty-one years to the day.

In 1994 Gateway announced that all its stores would be re-branded as 'Somerfield', a name which originated as a Gateway 'own brand' label. The connection between Gateway and Somerfield can be clearly seen in this logo.

The familiar Somerfield brand as seen in Middlewich. Gateway Middlewich became Somerfield Middlewich in 1998.

In 2006 Somerfield began the process of 'rationalising' its network of stores, a move which involved the selling off of the Middlewich store..

A rare photograph of Somerfield's Middlewich store taken on the 2nd February 2009
when the store had been earmarked for closure.  (photo added 22nd Oct 2018) 

 The very last day of Somerfield, Middlewich, in March 2009. A comparison with the photo (below) of the Tesco staff on August 18th nine years later shows that many Somerfield staff moved over to the new store. In fact the refurbishment of the store and its re-opening as Tesco Middlewich was completed in a comparatively short time. Some of the existing equipment, such as freezers and fixtures and fittings, were re-used by Tesco. 
(Photo added 23rd Oct  2018). 

Many thanks to Joanne Shaw, Glenis Ollier, Janette Clutton and Paul Greenwood for information on this photo.                                  

The Somerfield stores were sold off to the Co-op and for a time it looked like that organisation might at last achieve its ambition of opening a real supermarket in the town. 

It was not to be. Instead, in  2009, Somerfield Middlewich became...

Jacob Cohen, the founder of Tesco, changed his name to Jack after encountering anti-Semitism during the first world war. He started in business in 1919 selling ex-NAAFI goods from a barrow. Very soon he had stalls in markets all over the East End of London, and a horse and cart to keep them all supplied with goods. In 1924 he began buying tea from the appropriately named T. E. Stockwell. The tea had to be given a brand name and one was created from Stockwell's initials and the first two letters of Jack's surname: T.E.S. CO. Soon Jack's enterprises became first covered market stalls, then shops, and then the very earliest supermarkets with the name Priceright. In 1931 Jack consolidated his businesses and started to compete with the Co-op, Sainsbury's and other established grocery names, using his TESCO brand as the name for the stores. It was at this time that Tesco's famous motto 'Pile It High, Sell It Cheap' was coined. By 1935 Tesco was a major contender in the grocery trade and by 1951 the 'Tesco' chain of supermarkets had started to appear.

- Information adapted from: 'How It All Began Up the High Street', by Maurice Baren. A fuller version of the founding of Tesco can be found in the book.

Tesco Middlewich, as it was in 2013.   Photo: Bill Armsden

It's fair to say that Middlewich took its new supermarket to its heart. It wasn't the biggest of supermarkets, and it wasn't the best situated. But the staff was friendly and welcoming and you could buy almost anything you wanted there.

It also had the advantage of sharing the town's only decent car-park with first Congleton Borough and then Cheshire East Councils.

And the nearby Fountain Fields park was soon dubbed 'Tesco Park' by a new generation.

In 2012, Tesco announced plans for a massive expansion of the Middlewich store and bought up a large area of land between the existing store, Southway, and Darlington Street. This plan would, for better or worse, have revolutionised shopping in Middlewich.

Only a year later the plans were abandoned.


(A Middlewich Diary entry)

And things settled back into the usual routine, Tesco Middlewich carried on as it had since 2009, but this time with a simmering background of resentment locally as the property bought up by Tesco fell into rack and ruin. The resentment was aimed at the far away 'head office' of the company, never at the hard-working Middlewich staff.

One loss in particular was keenly felt by some locals, partly because of its history and picturesque appearance, and partly because it could be seen, gradually falling apart at the seams, right next to the entrance to Tesco.

Barclay House in Southway. Built, as its name suggests, as a residence for the manager of Barclay's Bank in nearby Wheelock Street. Now the bank itself has closed, though the building which housed it survives. What will become of Barclay House?

And then, seemingly out of the blue, at the end of July 2018, Tesco announced that its main Middlewich store would be closing.



The news came as a total shock, to both staff and customers. The store seemed to be thriving and holding its own against local competitors. What were Tesco playing at?

Initial reports as to what might replace the store were a little confused. Some members of staff were under the impression that the building might be used for a 'hardware store'.

It has to be borne in mind that at this time Tesco were keeping their plans for a new chain of discount supermarkets called 'Jack's' (after the founder of the firm) very much under wraps, but several members of staff said they had been invited to apply for jobs at a new Middlewich store to replace Tesco.

The date for the closure of 'Big Tesco' was eventually announced as the 18th August.

The notice announcing the date of the closure and reminding people of the existence of Middlewich's two Tesco Express stores. Immediately after the closure of the main Tesco store, the Tesco Express in Wheelock Street amended its opening hours to 6am - 11pm in line with the Warmingham Lane store.

On the day of the closure we took a last look at 'Big Tesco'.

The sign on Queen Street/King Edward Street at the entrance to the access road to the car park and supermarket. This area was originally part of the Fountain Fields recreation ground - the putting green to be precise - and is also, as Harry Random has pointed out, close to the probable site of one of the water pumps which gave Fountain Fields its name.

The 'Pagoda' at the top of Southway and the steps giving pedestrian access to the supermarket from Wheelock Street. In 2015 this location was used as the venue for a National Town Crier competition organised by Devlin Hobson, Middlewich's own Crier. Highlights were broadcast by Granada TV on 'Granada Reports'. Look carefully and you may spot Mr Roberts looking bemused and obviously wondering what he was doing there. I was one of the judges, actually.


The 'tradesmen's entrance' to the store at the top end of Southway where deliveries were made via the nearby St Ann's Road. All the Tesco signs, inside and out, including this one, were removed on the day the store closed.

Strolling across the car park, we came upon this sign marking the exit onto St Ann's Road. A sign seen every day by one and all but, on this particular day, seeming rather poignant.

On the side of the store, on Southway, peeling paint on this sheet metal protecting a drainpipe, is the very last tiny reminder of the days when the supermarket belonged to Gateway and Somerfield.

This sign, along with a similar one on the front of the building was always left on all night and could be seen shining through the trees on Fountain Fields as a reminder that Tesco was still there. Like all the others, it was swiftly removed on the day of closure.

Such a familiar sight. It's hard to realise that it's now disappeared.

Workers lost no time on the day of closure in removing all the Tesco signs. Note how the individual lettering was removed from the signboards. Perhaps the boards themselves are to be recycled , either here or elsewhere? (Photo supplied No 1)

Just around the corner; the front elevation of the supermarket building. Are we imagining this, or did this sign wear the official Tesco party hat in the festive season?

(Image: W+K London)

A sense of place. Tesco left shoppers in no doubt as to just where their store was situated. It was little touches like this that helped make 'Big Tesco' part of the community.

The Tesco Middlewich signs were taken down, by all accounts before the last customer had even been served. To the left you can see that many of the shelves had, by this time, already been cleared. (Photo supplied No 2)

Stepping inside the store, we see this achingly familiar sight now, sadly, confined to history. The fruit and veg. aisles, with the bakery in the distance.

Bread, groceries and frozen foods. all part of 'Big Tesco', and now all gone.

Two familiar Tesco faces. The lady on the left is Christine Barker, who provides a link all the way back to the  Gateway Middlewich supermarket, where she started working in 1987, the year it opened. She stayed all through the Gateway, Somerfield and Tesco eras, a total of over 30 years. In fact it would have been 31 this November. Now, with the closure of Tesco, she's opted for a well-earned retirement. With her is another familiar face, Sheila Williams.

Shelley Standring writes:
This was Anne Dixon, she worked on Fresh and was very often our Store Greeter. She was a real character and we missed her lots when she retired and moved to Chorley in 2017. She's pictured with our store manager at the time Jonathon Sayward.

Like the 'Goodbye' sign on the edge of the car park the signs over the exit doors took on a new significance on the 18th August. Staff took the opportunity of posing for commemorative photos saying Goodbye. If this is your photo and you'd like us to acknowledge the fact, please let us know. The same goes for all the other photos marked 'photo supplied'.

Pictured above are:
(L to R) Front - Rosie Bickerton, Val Edgerton, Jayne Ellis, Katie Evans, Andrew Burgess.
Back: Jo Schofield, Adrian Moss, Chris Everall.
(Photo supplied no 3

Information supplied by Shelley Standring

Much the same photo, with the same people in different positions!

(Photo supplied, no 4)

Rosie Bickerton, Michael Sproston, Karen Fitzgerald.Michael worked on Grocery.

Information supplied by Shelley Standring.

(Photo supplied no 5)

Tesco staff clearly not wanting to be left on the shelf. 

(L to R) Jeanette Daynes, Shelly Standring, Karen Fitzgerald, Katie Evans, Rosie Bickerton.

Information supplied by Shelley Standring

(Photo supplied no 6)

Of course someone had to be the last customer on the 18th August, and that honour fell to Cath Murphy, who bought a bottle of pink gin. Note that even as this celebratory photo was being taken the store was being stripped of its identity. (Photo used with permission).

Cath writes:

'I was the last paying customer in Middlewich Tesco! Can't have a Saturday night without Pink Gin, especially as my daughters are visiting! Thank you to all the lovely staff at Tesco, and good luck for the future!'

With Cath (and her bottle) are (L to R) Abby Allan, Karen Fitzgerald, Rosie Bickerton and (back) Jo Schofield.

Information from Shelley Standring.

And so at 6pm on the 18th August 2018, the era of 'Big Tesco' came to an end and staff gathered together for one last 'team photo' (Photo supplied, no 7).

The people of Middlewich were upset, to say the least, at the loss of the main Tesco store in the town. They'd come to rely on the friendly and efficient service of the staff. Despite the constant moaning of a certain section of the community. Middlewich certainly isn't badly off when it comes to supermarkets. How many towns of this size can boast three medium sized supermarkets within walking distance of each other? Admittedly Wheelock Street - Middlewich's 'High Street' - has seen many changes in recent years as the advent of the internet sees the changeover from a retail to a service economy in such areas. The same can be said, of course, of High Streets throughout the land and this town is by no means unique in seeing former retail shops becoming hairdressers, fast food restaurants, building societies and estate-agents. So everyone was puzzled when what seemed to be a thriving supermarket disappeared from the scene almost overnight. Of course, as we've said before, Tesco's plans for a chain of 'Jack's' supermarkets was still very much under wraps at that time.

Once the closure had been announced the people of Middlewich began to drop off thank you cards and letters in appreciation of the staff at 'Big Tesco'.
(Photo supplied, no 8)

More Thank You cards and letters of appreciation (Photo supplied, no 9)

Tesco's 'Bags of Help' scheme was very popular in Middlewich. Customers were given blue plastic tokens every time they shopped at the store and dropped them through a slot into the box of their choice. Tesco then made grants to the most popular applicants. Middlewich people were sometimes inclined to get a bit uppity when the organisations they were 'voting' on seemed to have no connection with the town. They would, wouldn't they? No doubt exactly the same thing happened in other towns. But, as the organisers were continually at pains to point out, there were times when no Middlewich organisations applied for the grants, despite high profile publicity inviting  them to do so. The photo shows the choices available in August 2017. The money for the grants was raised through the sale of 5p carrier bags in store.

The remaining photos in this Middlewich Diary entry show Tesco Middlewich staff socialising and supporting various charity events in Middlewich and further afield.
We're including them in order to put together as complete a record as we can of 'Big Tesco' and its staff for posterity.

Along with several of the photos above they were passed on to us by Rosie Bickerton.

We'd love to have more information on these photos, to put names to faces, and to credit the photographers where possible.

If you can help, please get in touch, quoting the 'photo supplied' number.

Our contact details can be found at the top of the right hand column.

Dressed as minions for 'Onesie Day' are:

(L to R) Back: Andy Bennion, Chris Everall, Trevor Robinson.

Front: Hannah Fraser, Janette Clutton, Pam Devine.

Information from Shelley Standring.

 (Photo supplied no 10)

Tesco staff fundraising for a good cause. The lady in the blue check shirt is Janette Clutton, and Chris Everall is holding the bucket.  Community 'Champion' Lesley Birchall is bottom right.  But who are the others, and what cause were they collecting for? If you can help, please get in touch.
(Photo supplied, no 11)

The staff of 'Big Tesco' were always keen to dress up for special occasions, such as Christmas, Easter, even the World Cup! Obviously this time they're celebrating Halloween. 

Pictured are: (L to R)
Front: Jayne Ellis, Shannon McClelland, Helen Marshall, Lesley Birchall, Karen Fitzgerald.
Back: Janette Clutton (behind the mask) and Shelley Standring.
 (Photo supplied, no 12)

Halloween again! 

(L to R) Hannah Fraser, Julie Stone, Jeanette Daynes, 
Hayley Mbarki, Chelsea Dykes.(Photo supplied, no 13).

Familiar faces. Who are the Tesco team supporting? Is it Cancer research? And where are they (or where are they going to?) Is this, perhaps, part of the 'Race For Life'? (Photo supplied, no 14)

This looks like the same occasion.

(L to R) Jo Latham, Angela Breland, Karen Fitzgerald, Rosie Bickerton.
(Photo supplied, no 15)

Tesco staff supporting what looks like the same good cause, this time, by the look of it, outside the store itself.
 (Photo supplied, no 16)

Come in number 847, your time's up! Obviously a photo from the same occasion, as no 847 and quite a few of the others are on both photos. Who are they supporting, with the help of Nivea? To us, it looks like the Race For life once more.

(Photo supplied, no 17)

Valentine's Day at Tesco.

Holding single red roses are:
(L to R) Sharon ?*, Dee Warren, Val Edgerton, Helen Marshall, Jeanette Daynes, Karen Fitzgerald, Jayne Ellis, Rosie Bickerton.

* Can anyone supply the missing surname?

(Photo supplied, no 18)

Christmas party, held in the Tesco staff canteen on the 9th December 2015.

Shelley Standring writes:

'Each year the managers of the store would cook a three-course Christmas meal for all the staff in the store. They did a brilliant job!'
 (Photo supplied, no 19)


So there we are. If you can help with details of any of the 'supplied photos' or if you have additional photos and/or memories you think belong here, please contact us.

This Diary entry will be added to and amended as we receive new material and information

Thanks to everyone who helped us put this feature together, including Rosie Bickerton and Shelley Standring.

We wish the very best of luck to all the former staff and management of Tesco Middlewich and we hope this Diary entry will help ensure that nearly ten years of 'Big Tesco' won't ever be forgotten.

Dave Roberts
1st October 2018

'... a few tears whilst reading this and looking at the pictures.
Tesco's closing has certainly left a big hole in our lives.

We were Team Middlewich, a family, a place where people came and knew they would see someone they knew.

A real community store.

Thank you for writing this xx'

-Shelley Standring

Our special Middlewich Diary masthead for October 2018


Originally published 1st October 2018.

Updated and re-published 22nd October 2018
Re-published 18th August 2019 (First anniversary of the closure)