Thursday 24 August 2023



by Dave Roberts

From the 18th October 2018 to 25th March 2022 Middlewich was one of thirteen towns and cities across Britain to take part in a short-lived retail experiment by Tesco, who were trying to counter the threat posed by the likes of Aldi and Lidl, the no-frills supermarkets.

Here you'll find our coverage of the end of what Middlewich people called 'Big Tesco' on the 18th August 2021. This Diary entry also includes a potted history of our town's first supermarket, from its earliest days as Gateway to the end of the 'Tesco era'.

There was a time when this giant retailer looked like it was going to make Middlewich into 'Tesco Town', with plans for a huge superstore encompassing the original Gateway supermarket, together with the land on the other side of Southway now being developed by McCarthy Stone and others. The story of the proposed 'Tesco Takeover', which may or may not have been scuppered by the building of the Morrison's supermarket ten years ago, together with  the expansion of nearby Lidl, can be found by following the following link:

For most people, the closure of 'Big Tesco' came out of the blue. It was a settled part of Middlewich life, along with the  smaller Tesco Express branches in Wheelock Street and Warmingham Lane which still serve the public. No one would ever have called it the best supermarket in the world, but it served Middlewich well within its limitations, and its staff were friendly and very efficient.

Then, suddenly, it was gone and Middlewich was left without one of its major supermarkets. 

Soon, rumours began to circulate that Tesco had something in mind for the Middlewich store and others in various parts of the country.

In fact plans had already been in the pipeline for a couple of years before the announcement was made, which at least explained why Tesco had decided to close an apparently successful supermarket in Middlewich.
The JACK'S logo, unveiled for the first time in October 2018

On the 18th October 2018 the new Middlewich Jack's store opened its doors for the first time.

Photo: Cheshire Live

The JACK'S Story

In the entrance lobby a large photo of Jack Cohen welcomed people to the store, accompanied by a brief explanation of what 'JACK'S' was all about.

'In 1919 Tesco founder Jack Cohen took his £30 demob money and sold surplus armed forces stock from his market stall in Hackney, East London.

Jack had an eye for a deal and an intuition for what his customers needed. His stall was famous for making affordable food available to everyone.

Today at Jack's his legacy lives on in great-tasting food at the lowest possible prices.

7 out of 10 JACK'S products are grown, reared or made in Britain
to bring you outstanding value'.

The last paragraph, incidentally, was an obvious attempt to appeal to those who had voted for Britain to leave the EU two years previously.


Party food and free gifts were the order of the day as Jack's went all out to win the hearts and minds of its former Tesco customers.

Jack's product lines were very simple and basic.

The simplicity of the choice offered by Jack's meant that there was plenty of space, enabling the store to have wide aisles.

Perhaps surprisingly for a discount supermarket Jack's had its own in-house bakery. Then again, Lidl in Chester Road has a similar facility.

The warehousing and unloading facilities for Jack's were as basic as the store itself, with trucks having to make the awkward turn from St Ann's Road to make deliveries. There appears to be no viable alternative to this as Home Bargains will be making deliveries in exactly the same way.

In its later years, Jack's was managed by Darren, a well-known local lad who enthusiastically supported the store's community initiatives. He was particularly interested in the activities we promoted through the short-lived Community Mayor project. Many of the staff at Jacks were local and they managed to preserve the 'community feel' that the store had inherited from the Tesco store which had preceded it. But they were fewer in number and were always rushed off their feet. Jack's had a policy of asking everyone to multitask, so there was little time for friendly chats with the customers. Somehow, though, they managed it.
Reactions to Jack's were mixed. Many people liked it and appreciated its convenience, friendliness and low prices.
Others, though, felt it was a little bit too 'no-frills' and had hoped for a better range of products.
Whatever Tesco's reasons for discontinuing this experiment in retailing, as with 'Big Tesco', the end came suddenly and it was announced that the store would close on the 25th March 2022.

JACK's IN 2022                              Photo: CHESHIRE LIVE


The Jack's sign in Queen Street, which replaced an earlier Tesco one. This area was once a part of Fountain Fields and the site of the sign is said to be where the water supply which gave Fountain Fields its name was situated.

Belated thanks to everyone who worked at Jack's for all your hard work in keeping the store going for four years. It obviously wasn't an easy thing to do and we're sure we speak for the people of the town when we tell you how much we appreciated your efforts.

One lasting legacy from Jack's might be the name of the local park. Its official name is, of course, Fountain Fields but during the Tesco era it was dubbed 'Tesco Park' by the children who played there and smoothly transitioned into 'Jack's Park' when the supermarket changed its name.
Somehow 'Home Bargains Park' doesn't sound right, so it might be that the name 'Jack's' will live on, if only for young children and their parents.

Although the Jack's stores are gone, the brand still exists. Tesco has adopted it for many of its 'own brand' goods, such as those formerly sold under the 'Happy Shopper' brand. For instance, you can buy 'Jack's' products, with that familiar red and white label, at the new Winsford Gateway Service Station on Road One in Winsford.

And now, we wait for the 23rd September 2023* when our supermarket, having undergone another transformation, re-opens as a branch of Home Bargains.


*Sources close to Home Bargains are telling us that the opening date has been brought forward to 16th September.

Monday 21 August 2023



Photo courtesy of MARJORIE PACE

In August 2023 Marjorie Pace posted this photo on our Middlewich Diary Community Page, under the title of 'Freemasons', pointing out that one of the people featured is her Grandad, Frank Cliffe (third from left).

But who are the others? Does anyone recognise anyone else?.

Our only contribution can be to point out just where the photo was taken.

They're in Lewin Street, in what was called 'Victoria Square' at one time - the space in front of the Victoria Building (Middlewich Town Hall). That's the distinctive 'tower' of the Wesleyan Methodist  Church in the right background. Left background is the now empty shop that was originally a branch of the Co-op and has also been, among other things, a laundrette, a Land-Rover agency, Stott's Chemist (later Mistry's Pharmacy) and was last used as Middlewich Post Office.

Sunday 20 August 2023


 Middlewich Town Council

by Dave Roberts,

The Civic Insignia of Middlewich, by which we mean the chains and badges of office worn by the Mayor and Mayoress (or Mayor's Companion) and the Deputy Mayor, are quite magnificent and bear comparison with those found in any other small town.

The Mayor's chain and seal has been in continuous use, year after year, since 1897. The badge worn by the Mayor's Companion (formerly the Mayor's Consort) is of more recent vintage, having been gifted to the former Middlewich Urban District Council in 1954. In 2019, the first (and, it appears, only) year of Middlewich's Community Mayor, the badge took on a completely unforeseen and very personal significance for Lynne Hardy, the first Mayor's Companion. But more of that later.

It's a privilege to be able to show you, possibly for the first time ever, exactly what our town's insignia look like, and we're very grateful to the Town Council for allowing us to do this.

Middlewich Town Council
The chain and seal of the Middlewich Urban District Council was presented to the town by local industrialist and philanthropist Sir John Brunner to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897.
There is an inscription on the back of the seal recording this fact, but unfortunately our photographic skills do not permit us to show you a clear picture of it. Here's what the engraving, now somewhat worn by the countless suits, ties, waistcoats and dresses of past Council chairmen and mayors, actually says:
Presented to
The Town of Middlewich

In Commemoration of the Sixtieth Year of
The Reign Of Her Most Glorious Majesty


June 1897

Middlewich Town Council
The council's seal and motto, which was used on the Urban District Council's letterheads and documents until the council ceased to exist in 1974, is borrowed from the coat of arms of the France-Hayhurst family of nearby Bostock Hall.
The crest as used on Middlewich U.D.C. paperwork prior to 1974

The design was also used by the Middlewich Heritage Society in its early years, the society going to the trouble and expense of having a printing block of it made in those pre-computer days.

 Evidence of the family's influence in the town can also be found in the Parish Church.

Courtesy of St Michael & All Angels, Middlewich

The coat of arms itself is now used on the sign outside the popular Hayhurst Arms pub and restaurant in Bostock.


Virtus Semper Viridis translates as
'Virtue is always flourishing' or
'Virtue is always green'

When the Town Council came into being in 1974 it applied to use the seal and motto but this was refused on the grounds that the council which used it originally had, effectively, ceased to exist, meaning that the design had become the property of the Crown.

Many town councils, presumably being in the same position, decided to go to the expense of having new insignia made with the town council's name and newly created coats-of-arms on them, but Middlewich sensibly decided to carry on using the original UDC chains and badges, creating a pleasing sense of continuity and a link with the past. This policy also, of course, saved the council an not inconsiderable amount of money.

Obviously, though, the old design couldn't be used on council paperwork, hence the creation of the council's now familiar logo.


Eagle-eyed readers will, by now, have realised that the local High School badge
also has a familiar look to it

Middlewich Town Council

Here's the full chain and insignia, as worn by the Mayor. Bottom centre, just above the seal, is the Brunner crest. Does anyone know how Bibe Si Sapis translates into English?

UPDATE: We're grateful to Garnet Marshall, who is a member of the Brunner Lodge in Middlewich and tells us:

It's the motto from the coat of arms of the BRUNNER family. It translates to "if though art wise, drink"

Sound advice.

Middlewich Town Council

This will be familiar to anyone who has ever attended Sir John Deane's College, or its fore-runner, Sir John Deane's Grammar School. Sir John Brunner was a great benefactor of the school and the family crest is incorporated into the coat-of-arms still used by the college.


You'll notice that the college's version is missing the 'Red Hand' in the top left hand corner. During my days at SJDGS the hand was included in the badges on our blazers and there were always dark mutterings about some supposed connection with the Irish Loyalist movement, as the symbol was thought to be 'The Red Hand Of Ulster'. A simple misconception, it turns out. Sir John's red hand simply indicated that he was a Baronet. The school quietly dropped the symbol from its badge some time in the sixties, presumably to avoid such conjectures. To save any further confusion, the Red Hand of Ulster is a right hand, while the red hand indicating a Baronet is a left hand.

Coincidentally, Sir John Brunner died exactly one hundred years to the day that this article was written, on the 1st July 1919.

Around the Mayoral chain are fourteen medallions with the names and dates of Chairmen (and they were, as you can imagine, all men) of the Middlewich U.D.C. from 1897 until the end of the Great War and on into the mid-1920s. They read like a roll-call of (almost) every well-known Middlewichian name you can think of and are (running anti-clockwise):

HENRY SEDDON 1897-8, 1902-3


WILLIAM JONES 1899-1900, 1908-9, 1909-10

JAMES WILLIAMS 1900-1, 1910-11



EDWARD BAKER HARLOCK 1904-5, 1911-12, 1921-2





JOSEPH POWELL 1912-13, 1924-5



Middlewich Town Council

The Middlewich UDC Consort's chain of office and badge. From 2019 the term Mayor's Consort was replaced by 'Mayor's Companion' - though for the first year of the Community Mayoralty at least, most people seem to prefer the term 'Mayoress'. 

Middlewich Town Council

The Consort's insignia is of much more recent origin, having been presented to the Middlewich U.D.C. in 1954. And thereby hangs a tale...

The 'Mayor's Companion' (or Mayoress) for the first year of our town's Community Mayoralty, was my partner, Lynne Hardy.

Lynne originates from Huddersfield and has lived here for thirty years.

For nearly all of those thirty years her best friend was Ann Hough, a very well-known and well-loved Middlewich lady.

Sadly Ann passed away last October, and is very much missed by her family and her wide circle of friends including, of course, Lynne and I.

So imagine Lynne's feelings when we examined the civic treasures we've been looking at here, and she found that on the back of the insignia she would be wearing throughout the year were inscribed the words...
Middlewich Town Council

'Presented to the M.U.D.C.






A happy coincidence, to say the least, and there couldn't have been a better omen for the first year of this new and, we believe, unique type of Mayoralty.

But does anyone know who Miss Annie Hough was? Attempts to find out have all come to nothing so far and, for obvious reasons, we'd love to find out something about her. 1954 is, after all, within living memory. If you remember Annie, or know anything about her, feel free to contact us.

Finally, just a word about the terms used in this article. I am, as you'll have gathered, no expert on civic insignia, heraldry, family crests and coats-of-arms and the like. I've used the terms I thought appropriate. If you know better, please don't hesitate to get in touch and put me right.

There is, incidentally, one piece we haven't shown you, and that's the badge worn by the Deputy Mayor. We hope to add a photo of this in the near future.

I very much hope you've enjoyed this glimpse of our town's beautiful civic insignia.

With grateful thanks to:





COLIN COULES (MAYOR, 2023.-2023)

UPDATE August 21st 2023

In August 2023 the Town Council finally obtained permission to use the old MUDC crest, and here it is, looking better than ever and injecting much-needed Civic Pride into our local affairs. It can be found on the council ranger's van and, increasingly, on MTC paperwork. Many thanks to Middlewich Town Mayor Colin Coules and Town Clerk Nicci Antoney.

A version of this article also appears on THE MIDDLEWICH YEAR

This version first published 1st July 2019
Revised and re-published 21st June 2020
re-published 24th June 2022
UPDATED and re-published 21st August 2023