A UK Canal Boating Article

Category : Places


Middlewich was founded by the Romans and the suffix 'wich' indicates that salt was extracted here during these times. In fact the production of the salt has continued right up to the present day and its one remaining manufacturer, Saxa, produces 57% of the UK's cooking salt.

Two civil war battles were fought in the town, the first Battle of Middlewich took place on 13th March, 1643. The Parliamentarians, were under the command of Sir William Brereton, the Royalist army was led by Sir Thomas Aston. The second Battle of Middlewich was fought on 26th December 1643 when 200 Parliamentarians lost their lives in the battle, along with a number of Royalists under the command of Lord Byron.

Middlewich is located at the confluence of the Rivers Dane, Croco and Wheelock. Two canal also run through the town the Shropshire Union and the Trent and Mersey Canals. The Canals of Middlewich and its salt history are very closely linked and many generations either lived on the canals or worked in the salt making industry. Following a petition in 1766, the Trent and Mersey Canal was diverted from its original course to provide transport to the town and now links with a branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. The link between the two canals, which was opened in 1833, is actually a third canal known as the Wardle Canal and at about 100 feet in length, it is the shortest canal in the United Kingdom.

The Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival is now firmly established annual event on the folk circuit and it is estimated that 30,000 people visit the town during festival weekend. Over 400 colourful canal boats make their way to Middlewich for the festival. Moored along the towpath you will see many traditional canal boats, working barges and trade boats selling everything from canalware to cheese.

The Middlewich Waterside Trail is just over 3 miles long and runs around and through the town starting at the Town Wharf and following the Trent and Mersey Canal through to the junction with the Shropshire Union Canal, the Middlewich Branch, at Wardle Lock.

A primary landmark in Middlewich is St Michael and All Angels’ Church which is depicted in a painting by the artist Gordon Wilkinson. There has been a church on the site since the middle of the 12th century but all that now remains are the two eastern most pillars on each side of the nave. Parts of the church dates back to Norman times but most of the building was constructed during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. The church was the scene of defeat of the Royalists by the Parliamentarians at the First Battle of Middlewich in the English Civil War.

A replica Roman amphitheatre, known as the Bull Ring, has been built near the parish church and is now a popular venue for a host of arts and music events. In the warmer weather buy an ice cream and sit on the steps and watch the world pass by.

The town centre has not been extensively redeveloped and has retained many original features and independent shops. There are also four supermarkets in the town and there is a small convenience store next to the canal. Middlewich Market day is on a Tuesday shop there for fresh local produce including the world famous Cheshire cheese. There are a good selection of pubs, some of which are canal side, offering good food and Ales. The town also offers a good choice of cafes, restaurants and takeaway outlets.



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