WORK to redevelop Northwich has prompted memories of a woman who was the oldest in Northwich for decades.

Sarah Parkes was a guest of honour at the official opening of Northwich Memorial Hall in the1960s and gave a bouquet to the Duchess of Kent at the event.

Mrs Parkes, who lived in Whalley Road, was born in 1865 and died in 1971 aged 106.

Her granddaughter Enid O'Gara said: "She was the oldest lady in Northwich for a long time.

"The American Civil War was happening when she was born and how many wars she lived through since.

"When the memorial hall was opened my granny went down.

"The Duchess of Kent came and my granny met her and she gave her a bouquet.

"The Duchess said to her 'I should be giving you this, not getting if from you'.

"I can remember my Aunty Liz putting her into a wheelchair and can remember her being there.

"I was in the crowd and my aunty took her, I suppose she must have had a tour round the memorial hall.

"She came under the subway and that's where I saw her, coming under the subway with my aunty pushing her."

The family has a photograph of Mrs Parkes shaking hands with the Duchess, which they have shared with the Guardian.

The picture shows that they are under the canopy outside what is now the information centre.

The former gas tower, demolished in the early 1980s, is in the background of the photograph.

Enid said Granny Parkes took the royal meeting in her stride.

"You know what those Victorians were like," she said, "She wasn't one of those sloppy people but kept a stiff upper lip."

Mrs Parkes was married for 67 years and had 14 children.

Sadly two of her children died when they were babies and another was killed during the war.

Her daughter Annie lived to be 102 and her other children reached their 70s, 80s and 90s.

"She had had a of children of her own and was always nice to us kids," Enid said.

"We all thought the world of her."

Mrs Parkes was born in Whalley Road, where her mother had a shop, called Gandy's shop, and her father had a coal yard.

Enid said: "They lived where Memorial Court is being built now, there was loads and loads of houses there but they pulled them down after the war.

"She told me once that she worked on a farm in Whatcroft and would come home on Sunday for an day off then walk back over the fields in the afternoon.

"She was working in the farmhouse helping the farmer's wife.

"Her first holiday was when she was in her 90s and two of my aunties took her to Rhyl."

Children from Witton Church Walk CE Primary School used to come to sing at Mrs Parkes' birthday parties when she reached 100.