As we await with anticipation for this year’s proposed redevelopment of the Winsford shopping centre to take place, we take a peep back at the plans that were being formulated almost 80 years ago for Winsford, some of which sadly never materialised.

Just after the end of the Second World War, and in reports dating 1947, there was a drive to build bigger and better and to encourage renewed energy and growth.

Winsford was designated an expanding town, and the building of the Dene Estate was the first real step towards this.

In addition, the new ‘light industrial’ estate was being planned for north of the railway station, and there was not enough working labour to support this expansion.

Hence Winsford was to be developed with more housing and facilities to support the growing workforce.

At this time, Winsford had a population of 12,000 and the plans were to expand to 20,000. It was also proposed at this time that the river Weaver should be canalised to the Flashes.

The Dene estate was opened the year prior by Mr A. Breeze, who was the chairman of the council when the town was described as to be the ‘Hub of Mid Cheshire’.

Northwich Guardian: Fountain Court at the old Winsford shopping centreFountain Court at the old Winsford shopping centre (Image: Paul Hurley)

It provided 1,000 new homes covering 100 acres and was the start of the new town centre located on Dene Drive, replacing the one-long street that had, until then, been the focal point for shops, pubs, council buildings and other local amenities.

The Ministry of Health had funded the first 200 houses, with a budget of £250,000 to include sewers, roads etc.

The houses were to be rented to occupants at a cost of just over 17 shillings per week (which today would be the equivalent of approximately £30). At this time, Middlewich was also planned to expand whilst Northwich was designated ‘in decline’.

Due to the decline of the salt mines, Meadow Bank was expected to become an industrial area, although the main area for industry was to be east of the town.

This subsequently became one of the first purpose-built industrial estates to provide jobs for the current population and to encourage migration of people from the nearby cities of Liverpool and Manchester to come to Winsford for employment.

Northwich Guardian: The Original CWS Winsford bacon factoryThe Original CWS Winsford bacon factory (Image: Bob Curzon)

The urban council had started this process as early as 1937 when it invited the North West Co-operative Wholesale Society to locate a factory in Winsford using Cheshire pork and salt for bacon and sausage production, and Winsford is still a centre for the manufacturing of food production at the now-owned Morrisons factory.

The original plan for the shopping centre, which was built opposite the Guildhall, was to include a road that went from the High Street through the shopping centre, dissecting Queensway and joining Gladstone Street.

As we can see today, this never happened, although Dene Drive does skirt the shopping centre.

The ‘Precinct’ was also to have cinemas, restaurants, a town hall, municipal buildings, a hotel, and a community centre.

Northwich Guardian: Winsford High Street circa early 1900sWinsford High Street circa early 1900s (Image: Paul Hurley)

As with most plans, the development of the shopping area did include some of these buildings but was scaled back from the original proposals.

Next week we will continue to look at the expansion and redevelopment of Winsford, post-war to the present day.