ONE of Northwich’s best-known characters was Joe Allman.

He had an old junk shop near the bottom of Winnington Hill. The shop dates to 1630, when it was built as two cottages.

When turned into a shop, it was one of the oldest buildings in Northwich and had a thatched roof.

Joe was well known as ‘Old Joe’ and had traded there for 57 years, with the shop being crammed with junk of all sorts.

He bought the shop in 1904; before that, he traded from Cross Street.

The poor and not so poor of old Northwich would frequent the shop where items from pots, pans and kitchen equipment shared the floor both inside and out with pedal cycles, furniture, and children’s toys.

READ MORE > Bratts in Northwich - How the iconic store began

This was especially useful in the days after the Second World War when ex-servicemen were setting up house for the first time, and the massive house building that was going provided many customers in need of his services.

His stock was purchased at house clearances, jumble sales, and Sandbach Market, where he would go on the train, anywhere that he could seek out a bargain to sell.

It was then sorted and displayed in his shop and the pavement outside. He would sit like a king on his throne at the rear, and the floor was simply solid soil.

He had an open fire to keep him warm, bearing a kettle to make his tea.

In Joe’s younger days, he was a musician in the Salvation Army band, and until it wore out, he wore a Sally Army jumper bearing the words Blood and Fire.

In early 1962 Joe was drawn onto the footpath to be interviewed for the BBC Light Programme ‘Down Your Way. He was 88 years old at the time and would not have long left in the shop, retiring in his 90s.

Unlike some second-hand shop owners, Joe was never known for ripping anyone off.

In fact, the opposite was the case as he was more of a charity than one would expect. Having said that, he did alright for himself, owning at least one house in Winnington.

Eventually, in 1974 the council, whose aim seemed to want to remove any interesting buildings in the town. Far be it from me to equate this with the massive house building that is now going on.

They all thought there were valuable antiques hidden among the contents. There were not; Joe was not daft

There was then a demand for a protection order on it, but the plea went unheard or ignored.

When tenders were put out for its demolition, local firms’ quotes went down to almost paying to do the job.

They all thought there were valuable antiques hidden among the contents. There were not; Joe was not daft.

Simultaneously, the adjoining buildings were also demolished. Like the building with the strange arched roof that was said to have been built by canal workers using the tunnel building experience to make the roof.

This, I think, was the Counting House for the salt magnate Thomas Marshall.

The area was called Brine Sheath Brow.

So, enjoy some pictures of probably the most photographed building in Northwich, one that could have been renovated as a tribute to one of our best-known businessmen and preserve a building that dates to 1630, just before the English Civil War in 1642.

Or turn it into a car park, you decide.