Sunday 31 October 2021


Photo: Cliff Astles
by Dave Roberts

Here's a striking image which Cliff Astles sent to us a while ago and we thought might be appropriate for Halloween.
Behind all the 'ghosties and ghoulies' and the rather unpleasant fake blood and plastic daggers and silly masks and so on lies the real Halloween, or Eve of Hallowtide, which was celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November in Medieval times.
Hallowtide (or, in Ireland, 'Samhain') has (or had) little to do with the supernatural (and absolutely nothing to do with blood, horror and screaming skulls and the like - that's an American invention which only came into being when Hollywood started to get a grip of people's imaginations in order to promote its cheap blood and gore horror films).
It was a Christian festival and a time of feasting and celebration of the start of winter.
It later became linked with All Saints Day and All Souls Day, again celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November, in which the church celebrated its saints and martyrs and the departed souls of all who had gone before.
In England, until recent times, Halloween was regarded simply as a time when the 'spirit' world was closer to the every day world than usual.
Now, like Christmas and Easter, Halloween serves as another chance to make money for big business with sweet manufacturers and makers of novelties cashing in more and more with each passing year..
Good fun for the kids, of course, but a world away from its origins in the mists of time when people would pause for a while in their busy lives to remember those who had passed beyond the veil into unknown realms which we can only wonder about.

Halloween in Middlewich in the late 1950s and early 1960s was a fairly low-key affair, as it was elsewhere in Britain before the blatant commercialisation of the festival took hold.
We certainly made lanterns, but not out of pumpkins, which only went on sale here in recent years.
Our lanterns were  hollowed-out turnips with candles inside them, and they used to reek to high-heaven when they got hot.
In actual fact we were following a tradition which went back a lot further than the Americans' pumpkin carving. 
The original English medieval  Halloween tradition involved making lanterns from turnips and we were, whether we knew it or not, following that tradition.
I have vivid childhood memories of listening to ghost stories broadcast by AFN (the American Forces Network) on long-ago Halloween Nights over fifty years ago. They were broadcast on medium wave to the many American soldiers stationed here and all over Europe in those days.
The static and crackling and Radio Luxembourg-style fading in and out of the signal only added to the atmosphere.
Occasionally, but only occasionally, someone would organise a Halloween Party.
One such took place, I recall, in the late 1950s at the Manor, when it was still inhabited by the Willing-Denton family. As we were living in Nantwich Road at the time, it was just a matter of walking down the road and under the aqueduct to Manor Lodge, then making the arduous journey along the carriage drive to the Manor itself.
Once there, we were introduced to such quaint American customs as 'bobbing for apples'.
'Trick-or-treating' was discouraged because of  stories which reached us from America of people giving children apples with razor-blades in them and other such horrors. The stories were mostly complete nonsense - urban legends designed for the credulous. In fact, as far as we can gather,  there has only ever been one recorded instance of anyone trying to cause harm to trick-or-treating American children. The woman in question poisoned some candy and was later found to be insane. No one came to any harm.
But true or not, these gruesome stories put us off the idea of going from door to door asking for sweets, and the idea has only taken off in fairly recent years along with the rest of the Americanisation of Halloween.
Halloween in those days was just a distraction. Most of our energy was spent on preparing for the much more popular Bonfire Night a few days later.

Cliff's picture is made up of  images taken in and around Middlewich on two separate occasions. If you are wondering where the tree is, here, taken from his original comment on this entry, is what Cliff has to say:

As you pass the newly built houses along Warmingham Lane, look at the fields on your left hand side as you are going out of Middlewich (into Moston). After about 200 yards you will see the tree, just over the hedge and about 50 yards into the field.

- but please bear in mind that the rapid rate of housing development in Middlewich as in towns all over the area, means that the tree, and indeed the field, may not be there for much longer
Special Middlewich Diary Masthead for Halloween 2017

Our 'Three Witches' motif has been borrowed from the Middlewich Salt Company's letterhead.
Halloween has always had a particular resonance in the Cheshire salt towns, in all likelihood simply because 'wich' sounds like 'witch'. Carnivals and parades, particularly in Middlewich, always featured at least one 'Middlewich Witch'. This association was exploited by the Middlewich Salt Co. when it adopted as its trademark 'Middle-Witch Salt'.

Here's the full letterhead, this version of which dates back to 1946:

and here's a link to the Diary entry which, since we started in 2011, has always been our most popular entry:


...and  finally, here's a genuine Middlewich Witch at the 1973 Carnival in company with a lady advertising RHM's 'exceedingly good' Mr Kipling cakes...

First published Halloween Night (31st October) 2014
Revised and re-published Halloween Night 2016
 Halloween Night 2017
Halloween 2019 ('Not Brexit Day')
Halloween 2021

Saturday 23 October 2021



Poster: Fight For Middlewich

Find out more at:





We are calling at the war memorial in Middlewich Town Centre on Saturday 30th October at around 2.10pm to 2.30pm to launch the Poppy Appeal. It would be great to have a good turn out of residents to greet us.


This superb night time shot by Hannah Fray shows the Big Lock pub, and the lock which gives it its name, on a dark night in October 2021. Once firmly part of Middlewich's industrial scene, the Big Lock was, until the 1980s, adjacent to British Crepe, textile manufacturers, using the site (and buildings) of the earlier Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co. Those buildings have now been replaced by modern housing and the pub has been extended and modernised over the years to become an excellent pub restaurant and canal side cafe.
The Big Lock is a 'stack pub', the top part being at road level and the bottom part at canal level. At one time there were two bars, one for the residents of Webbs Lane and one for people working on the boats. The building at one time also incorporated a shop at canal level, to serve the 'boat people'
The lock itself, the only 'wide' lock in the area, was built in this way not, as is often thought, so that two boats could be accommodated at the same time, although it has of course served this purpose, but so that wide boats from the River Weaver could travel into the centre of Middlewich to reach the numerous salt and chemical works in the town. Whether this ever actually happened is unclear, but the destruction of the aqueduct at Croxton and its replacement by a narrow structure in the 1930s made it impossible anyway.

You can find out more about the Big Lock and its environs by following these links:

BIG LOCK circa 1875






Tuesday 19 October 2021





Here's a full list of engagements which the Mayor and Mayoress  fulfilled from 13th June 2019 until the end of December 2019.

Links to relevant information, including blog posts, will be added as time allows.

JUNE 2019

Thursday 13th June 2019: Mayor Making at Victoria Hall, Middlewich.

Friday 14th June 2019: Launch of the 2019 Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival, Market Field, Middlewich. Speech

Sunday 16th June 2019: Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival, Market Field.
'Festival Praise' presented by Churches Together. Speech (impromptu).

Thursday 20th June: Official re-opening of Morrison's Supermarket, Middlewich. Speech

Sunday 23rd June: Sandbach Civic Service, St Mary's Church, Sandbach.

Friday 28th June: Boy's Brigade Presentations, Middlewich URC, Queen Street, Middlewich. Speech

Saturday 29th June: Visit to Mid-Cheshire Scout Camp, Tatton Park.

JULY 2019

Monday 8th July: Strawberry Tea with Middle-Wyches WI, The Wych Centre, Middlewich.

Saturday 13th/ Sunday 14th July: Middlewich Classic Car & Bike Show 2019.
Harbutt's Field, Middlewich (Mayor only) Presentation of Prizes.

Tuesday 16th July: Middlewich High School. Prizegiving. Speech

 Friday 19th July: Folk & Boat Festival Volunteer Evening, Victoria Hall, Middlewich. 6pm.

Saturday 20th July: Unveiling and Official Opening of the Brunner - Mond Memorial Garden, Brooks Lane, Middlewich. 1.30pm at the Royal British legion Club. 2pm at Brooks Lane.

Sunday 28th July: Alsager Civic Service, Wesley Place, Alsager. 2.40pm at the War Memorial. 3pm at Alsager Methodist Church.


Friday 2nd August: Afternoon tea at Sandiway Manor Care Home. Talk on Middlewich's civic insignia, our connections with Northwich and Winsford via Sir John Brunner, and the new community mayoralty.

Monday 5th August: 'Grand Opening' of BARKS & CO, at Hopley House Shopping Village, Nantwich Road, Middlewich.


Wednesday 11th September. Official opening of Princess Court Garden, Cledford.

Link to flyer and further details

Sunday 15th September. Holywell Civic Service. Representing Middlewich at our Welsh 'twin town' in Flintshire.

Holywell Town Council

Saturday 21st September. Greeting Mayor of Knutsford, Andrew Malloy, outside Middlewich Town Hall, as he makes a 'pitstop' on his charity bike ride in aid of new youth facilities in Knutsford.

Mayor of Knutsford Crowdfunding page


Sunday 6th October: Macclesfield Civic Service 3 p.m. At St Michael & All Angels Church in Macclesfield.

Sunday 13th October: Nantwich Civic Service at St Mary's Parish Church. 10.45pm

POSTPONED: Sunday 13th October: Middlewich Civic Service at Middlewich United Reformed Church, Queen Street, Middlewich. 4pm. Please note that the civic service has now been postponed until Sunday 9th February 2020. Apologies for any inconvenience caused by this postponement.

Monday 14th October: Middle-Wyches WI seventh birthday meeting, at the Wyche Centre, Middlewich 7pm.

Wednesday 16th October: Official re-opening of the Sycamore Drive Children's play area 1pm. Speech (supplied).

CANCELLED: Tuesday 22nd October: Cheese and wine evening at Northwich, in aid of the Northwich Town Mayor's Charity. 7pm. This event was cancelled.

Friday 25th October: Opening of the Middlewich Beer Festival at Middlewich Royal British Legion Club. 8pm (doors open at 7pm). Event organised and sponsored by Middlewich & District Round Table. Including the first public appearance of our Deputy Mayor Linda Boden. Speech.

Saturday 26th October: Launch of the 2019 British Legion Poppy Appeal. 'Biker'   event at the War Memorial, Middlewich Town Centre 12.50pm. The Mayor and Mayoress will be in attendance, as will Deputy Mayor Linda Boden and her husband John and Town Crier Devlin Hobson.


Friday 8th November: Poppy selling at Morrison's supermarket on behalf of the Royal British Legion. Come along, buy a poppy, have a chat and tell us how we're doing as your first Community Mayor and Mayoress!

Sunday 10th November: Remembrance Sunday. Middlewich town centre from 10.30am. Attended by the Mayor and Mayoress, Deputy Mayor Linda Boden and husband John, and Town Crier Devlin Hobson.

Wednesday 13th November: Attending the funeral of the unforgettable Leo Sykes, the `unofficial Mayor of Middlewich`, Northwich Crematorium.

Thursday 14th November: Helping out at a meeting at the Victoria Hall aimed at improving the no. 42 bus service and creating a Middlewich Bus Users` Group. Attended by the Mayor and Mayoress and Deputy Mayor Linda Boden.

POSTPONED.Thursday 21st November: Middlewich High School GCSE Prize Giving Evening at
Middlewich Victoria Hall/Civic Hall. 6pm. Please note that this event has been postponed due to a gas leak in Holmes Chapel Road, leading to road closures. A new date will be announced ASAP.

Friday 22nd November: Middlewich Christmas lights switch on. From 5 pm until 7pm (switch on at 6pm).
Mexon Street Market 4pm until 8pm. Carol concerts in St Michael & All Angels Church 4pm and 6.30pm. Santa's Grotto, Brass Bands, Mini Fun-fair. The Silk FM Roadshow with special guests from 'Peter Pan', this year's pantomime at Northwich.

Wednesday 27th November Middlewich Over 60s 69th Anniversary lunch at Middlewich Community Centre. 1.45pm. Speech.

Thursday 28th November: Middlewich High School GCSE Prize Giving evening at Middlewich Victoria Hall. 6pm. Postponed from last Thursday. See above.


Sunday 1st December. Middlewich Town Council`s Over 70s Party at the Victoria Hall. Details soon.

Tuesday 3rd December. Annual Tree of Light ceremony at Middlewich Cemetery. Reading by the Community Mayor.

Sunday 8th December. 3pm onwards. Children`s party at the Victoria Hall, organised by JACKIE LATHAM, followed by fundraising event. We`ll be organising a Tombola and selling tea and coffee and cakes  for the COMMUNITY MAYOR`S CHARITIES. Attended by the Mayor and Mayoress and Deputy Mayor Linda Boden.

Saturday 14th December. Family Cinema at the Victoria Hall. Shaun The Sheep in 'FARMAGEDDON'. Details.

APPEARANCE CANCELLED. Sunday 15th December. 3pm onwards. Children`s party at the Victoria Hall, organised by JACKIE LATHAM, followed by fundraising event.  We`ll be organising a Tombola and selling tea and coffee and cakes for the COMMUNITY MAYOR`S CHARITIES. Attended by the Mayor and Mayoress.

Sunday 15th December. 6.30pm. Carol Concert at Middlewich United Reformed Church, Queen Street. Reading by the Community Mayor.

APPEARANCE CANCELLED. Wednesday 18th December. Lunch at Sandiway Manor Nursing Home. CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS. 

EVENT CANCELLED DUE TO ILLNESS. Sunday 22nd December. The Middlewich Diary Christmas Quiz at The Boar's Head.  In aid of the Middlewich Community Mayor's Charities. Compiled and presented by David Roberts. Starts at approx. 8.30pm. 

CHRISTMAS EVE, Tuesday 24th December. Carols around the Christmas Tree in Middlewich Town Centre, in aid of the Salvation Army. Sadly, we were unable to attend this event due to illness.