Middlewich grew as a town around the confluence of the rivers Wheelock, Croco and Dane.

It is one of the three local Wyches, along with Nantwich and Northwich. The Romans were the first to discover that brine flowed freely here and named the town Salinae after the salt.

Some excavation has, in the past, revealed traces of a Roman road and the remains of an entrenchment camp at Kinderton.

During the 1600s, Middlewich went through a highly volatile and brutal time throughout the Civil War and was the location of two destructive battles.

In 1643, the second battle destroyed many houses, shops, and agricultural land and damaged St Michael’s and All Angels Church.

There were severe food shortages as a result. Many soldiers died, and many more were injured.

Northwich Guardian: Kinderton Street, Middlewich, in 1909Kinderton Street, Middlewich, in 1909 (Image: Rose Hurley)

It is little surprise that shortly after, when the plague struck for a second time, the townsfolk were unable to control it, and more than 200 people died.

In mid-17th century, Middlewich finally began its recovery from the battles and the effects of the plague.

Records show that many repairs were made to the church between 1660 and 1690, and much of the damage was rectified.

It is thought that this was mainly due to the local salt industry, which enabled investment in the town.

Northwich Guardian: Queen Street, which was once Dog LaneQueen Street, which was once Dog Lane (Image: Rose Hurley)

Parts of the church date from the 12th century, although the majority was constructed between 1480 and 1520.

In 1858 significant changes were made, including the removal of the old deal galleries and pews, the floor was lowered, and interior masonry was restored.

From the old photos, it can be seen just how claustrophobic the old town was, predominantly in the area of the ancient Bull Ring and the church.

The local pubs, such as the King’s Head and the White Bear still exist, although others, such as the Black Bear and the Bull’s Head, are now gone.

Northwich Guardian: Wheelock Street into the BullringWheelock Street into the Bullring (Image: Rose Hurley)

An old local poem illustrates that the sport of bear baiting was commonplace at that time:

Scarce any man ever went sober to bed,

’Tis quite dreadful to think the lives they all led,

At that time in Cheshire no fun could compare

With the sport of all sports, namely, baiting the Bear.

In today’s age, this is unimaginable, but up until the mid-19th century was common practice. Bruin the Bear, famous in the town, would be taken to the Red Cow in Wheelock Street to partake of some ale!

Middlewich saw many changes over the years, including the dramatic impact of the building of St Michael’s Way in the 1970s, effectively cutting the town in two.

Northwich Guardian: Wheelock StreetWheelock Street (Image: Rose Hurley)

In addition, improvements in the location of the old Bull Ring have more recently given the town an amphitheatre as an open-air focal point for activities, fairs and performances.

The Middlewich Folk and Boat (FAB) Festival, which occurs each year, has put Middlewich firmly on the map, emphasising the importance of the canal network to the town and the community spirit that comes together to support the event.