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Thursday, 27 September 2012

Northwich Floods

London Rd was closed in Northwich after the River Dane burst its banks yesterday, but has just reopened.  Unfortunately it sounds as if some properties may have been badly affected but so far as I know, thankfully no-one was injured. 

The town has suffered several floods during its history, as I discovered while researching Regency Cheshire. In July 1828, the River Weaver burst its banks, inundating shops in the lower part of Northwich and destroying salt merchant R.P. Hadfield’s warehouse. A house in Witton St fell down; many inhabitants who took refuge in the upper storeys of their homes were rescued by ladder from boats. No coach services could pass through the town.
Not just Northwich was affected; the flooding of the River Dane caused ‘tremendous devastation through the whole line of its course’; many small farmers were said to be ‘irretrievably ruined.’ (Chester Chronicle, 25 July 1828.)  Northwich also suffered devastating flooding within living memory in 1946.

The Trent & Mersey Canal was breached yesterday, too, near Dutton Locks - there's an amazing photo on the BBC website here.  We often enjoy walks along the canal between Acton Bridge and Dutton, but I guess it will take a while to clear up the mess.

Images:  Northwich floods, 1872. There were similar scenes in the floods of 1798, 1799, and 1828. Daily Graphic.
Steam tug Kerne near Acton Bridge.
Dutton Locks before the flooding. Both photos © Sue Wilkes.


Monday, 17 September 2012

An Olympic Torchbearer?

Recently we went to the Hollybank Vets’ fundraising day in aid of The Joshua Tree, a local children's charity.  The Joshua Tree's fundraiser very kindly let me hold the Olympic torch which they carried in the torch relay.  It was surprisingly heavy!  The Joshua Tree aims to provide short breaks and support in the Cheshire countryside to families of children who have battled with cancer or other immune-suppressing illnesses.  The charity has been chosen as the North West regional finalist in the Persimmon Homes 40th Anniversary Competition to win a house worth £250,000. You can vote every day here to help the Joshua Tree win a house, and the competition ends on 20 September.

Monday, 3 September 2012

A Peek at Preston’s Guild Merchant in 1802

Preston’s Guild Merchant celebrations began today with a float parade and festival. Preston’s charter gave it the right to have a Guild Merchant or trade association. The names of Guild members or burgesses were inscribed on a roll. A regular Guild Court was held at which a new roll of burgesses was compiled. 

The custom of holding Preston’s Guild Court every twenty years began in 1542. The carnival which marked each Guild Merchant was famed nationwide: great feasts were held and a grand time had by all. The Beauties of England and Wales (1807) reported that the Guild Merchant on 30 August 1802 was attended by ‘an immense concourse of people of all ranks’.
Processions took place through all the town’s ‘principal streets’. On the first day everyone took their allotted place in the parade: the mayor and corporation, and ‘the wardens of the different companies at the head of their respective incorporated bodies, each in their official dresses’ represented each branch of trade and commerce. A band of music marched with each company.

On the second day the mayoress did the honours. ‘The girls of the cotton manufactory’ took their place in a procession, followed by nearly 400 ladies ‘superbly dressed, and profusely decorated with jewels’. A ‘miniature model of a complete steam-engine’ was displayed which ‘performed every operation of the cotton manufactory’. ‘Proud’ Preston’s Guild Merchant has continued to the present day, apart from wartime interruptions.
You can find out more about how to use the Guild Rolls and other records to trace your Lancashire ancestors in my forthcoming book.
Image: Preston market place in the 1840s. Engraving by C. Nicholls after a drawing by G. F. Sargent. Pictorial History of the County of Lancashire, 1844. Author’s collection.