NORTHWICH has been criticised for the lack of old Cheshire black and white buildings and the number of ugly modern buildings that predominate.

But to be fair to the town, it suffered heavily from subsidence and flooding at the turn of the last century, probably more than anywhere else.

Exceptions are the library and the old post office, now Wetherspoons. Both were built in the early 1900s, but nne building that has survived the test of time is the Parrs Bank building in Dane St, now CRS Consultants Ltd.

Before I go any further, I would like to thank Clive Steggel for giving me permission to read and borrow snippets from the 2015 unpublished article by Paul Lavell, together with photographs from the rebuild of this now beautiful building.

Paul has done a great job of pulling together the history of the building, its predecessors, and surrounds.

Northwich Guardian:

The building in 1891

Through the years the site of the building has gone through many changes, from a wych house or wich house where salt was recovered from brine pumped from brine springs, to shopping arcades and then in 1828 for use by the banking firm Thomas Firth and Son.

The bank was known as ‘The Old Bank’, but in 1865 the firm was taken over by the growing Parrs Banking Company Ltd of Warrington, who went on through a few metamorphoses to become The National Westminster Bank or NatWest.

Like many Northwich buildings, ‘The Old Bank’ suffered from flooding and subsidence. As a result, Parr’s head office ordered its demolition and rebuild, this was done, and the rebuild was in accordance with the new rules for building in Northwich.

The new bank could be jacked up, and in 1882 it was again in business.

In 1925, the Angel Hotel in the Bullring had subsided and had to be demolished. The space vacated by it was taken over by a new National Westminster Bank, negating the need for the old bank building.

Northwich Guardian:

Before the building was restored

As a result, the ‘Old Bank’ building was sold and converted into three retail premises, known as ‘Dane Chambers’. Locals will remember the Chinese restaurant that was on the second floor during the 1960s.

In the meantime, the fabric of the building was suffering, as can be seen in Clive’s photographs, and it was in danger of going in the same direction as other iconic Northwich buildings, such as the old police station.

But it was rescued by Clive Steggel and his wife Wendy, partners in CRS Consultants and insurance brokers. The company moved from their premises in the Bullring, and the new owners decided to overhaul and repair the dilapidated building.

Northwich Guardian:

Jacking up buildings in Northwich

Amongst other things, it had sunk considerably over the years, and the wooden structure was rotten. In 1984 the work was carried out by O’Rourke contractors using the sturdy jacks from the Brine Compensation Board to lift the building 4ft, an example of this work is shown.

The board paid for the lifting operation and oversaw the work, and this was the last building to be lifted in this way using the old tools that are now in the Weaver Hall museum.

The full refurbishment took just over 12 months to complete, the results were first class, so much so that Clive and his wife were given an award from the Mid Cheshire Chamber of Commerce in recognition for what they had achieved.

Clive had prevented the loss of another old Northwich building a virtually derelict building. CRS has now gone from strength to strength in ‘The Old Bank.’ still known as The Parrs Bank Building.

Northwich Guardian:

Twenty-six staff are employed there, and after having only a skeleton staff since the lockdown a full clean is about to start on what I would say is arguably the most attractive building in Northwich.