Friday 26 August 2022



THE KINGS LOCK.   Photo: The Frank Smith Collection

A familiar postcard once to be found, faded and curling around the edges, in obscure corners of Middlewich shops, along with even earlier postcard views of other favourite Middlewich scenes such as Wheelock Street, Chester Road, Fountain Fields and, of course, the Parish Church. The date of this view is a little difficult to establish, but the King's Lock's unabashed promotion of the dreaded Double Diamond beer puts it sometime around the late 60s/early 70s.
The pub was owned at this time by Ind Coope. Ind is, improbably, the name of one of the founders of the Burton-on-Trent brewery which produced DD. Mr Coope joined him in 1845. Double Diamond was originally a bottled pale ale which the brewery developed after the war to become one of the first keg beers. The supposed advantage was that the quality of the beer was 'consistent'. Consistently awful, some said. Ind Coope later became part of Tetleys, which in turn came under the Allied Breweries umbrella in later years. Double Diamond was last heard of as a keg beer in the early 1980s, though a bottled version was available until quite recently.
Ind Coope seem to have made an effort to give the old canal pub a more 'modern' look by painting it in sickly shades of green, possibly to go along with the Double Diamond beer on offer. Note that the old-fashioned lintels and other period features have been painted over. The King's Lock at the time was notorious for being somewhat compact and restricted for space (or being, as the locals had it, 'a poky hole'). It served canal users, both dwindling numbers of commercial boaters and people trying out the  burgeoning canal leisure industry, as well as locals from Booth Lane and the Avenues.
Like its near-namesake The Big Lock, the 'King's' is a 'stack pub' built on two levels; the pub at Canal level and accommodation on the lower level for horse stabling and other necessary arrangements for the canal trade.
The Big Lock, of course, differed slightly in that it was really two pubs - one at canal level along with a shop and stabling for the canal trade, and another on the top level for the residents of Webb's Lane.
It seems likely that the King's Lock, as built, included accommodation for a lock-keeper. Perhaps the lock-keeper doubled as the publican?

Photo: Gav Jackson

In Summer 2022 Gav Jackson was out and about photographing some attractive Middlewich scenes and, fortuitously, took a photo of the pub from the same angle. At first glance not a lot seems to have changed. The exterior of the pub looks a bit smarter, but the real changes have been to the interior. When the pub was re-modelled a surprising amount of space was reclaimed from somewhere and the building is now more roomy, while still retaining its cosy intimacy. The King's Lock, like so many other pubs, is now also a restaurant and has a marquee on the land at the lower level where musical performances can be seen throughout most of the year. The actual lock which gives the pub its name is on the other side of the bridge which could benefit from a fresh coat of whitewash.

Photo: Gav Jackson

The full photo by Gav Jackson, showing a little more of the surroundings of the pub in the Summer of 2022. The marquee can be seen on the left.

Many thanks to Gav for permission to use his photo.

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