Tuesday 12 September 2023


 Farewell Kerry!

by Dave Roberts

I thought it might be appropriate to pay tribute to a young lady who was Middlewich's Heritage Officer for close on sixteen years and, in that time, transformed the way the town looks at its heritage and history. The initiatives created by our new Heritage Officer did so much to tell the story of our town, not only to its residents, but also to the wider world.

Kerry Kirwan was appointed at the start of October 2007 at a time when Middlewich had, at best, a hazy idea of its own history. We knew that the settlement which later became  Middlewich pre-dated the Roman invasion and that the Romans were interested in the area because of its salt-making history. Every school pupil knows that the Romans prized salt and used it as currency, hence the word ‘salary’. The Heritage Society, of which I was a founder member back in 1985, did a lot to foster interest in our history and it was undoubtedly the work of the society which led the council to appoint Kerry as full-time Heritage Officer, working alongside the late town clerk, Jonathan Williams, and events manager Dave Thompson.

I worked with Kerry on two of her projects; ‘Tales of Wych & Water’ and ‘The War At Home’. My role was to edit together snippets of interviews which Kerry and her teams of volunteers collected around the town, telling the stories of Middlewich’s salt industry and canals and the role local people played in maintaining everyday life during World War II. Songs written by Dave Thompson and Andy Roscoe were then interleaved with these reminiscences from local people. One of the interviewees was ‘Auntie’ Maureen Shaw of Wardle Lock Cottage.

Kerry’s work in Middlewich eventually led to the formation of the Heritage Trust which, in turn, led to her crowning achievement in the town, the restoration and preservation of the Murgatroyd’s Brine Pumps in Brooks Lane, allowing our town to boast a unique piece of salt-making heritage to complement the Lion Salt Works at Wincham. The restoration of the ICI War Memorial, also in Brooks Lane, was another of Kerry’s projects which I had the honour, as Community Mayor, of declaring open.

Kerry’s contribution to Middlewich was immense and she’ll be very much missed, not least by the Heritage Trust which, under the able chairmanship of Mike Walton, continues the work started by Kerry.



A version of this article appeared in the October 2023 issue of 'Go Local' as part of our 'Middlewich Memories' series.


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