Books, unlike their subjects, aren't 'lost'

THERE are a number of good books available in Nantwich about the town and district and containing old photographs. Among them is "Lost Houses in Nantwich" by two local men, Andrew Lamberton and the late Robin Gray. (See below).

   As is obvious from the title, it features the houses and buildings in Nantwich that no longer exist or may be lost under newer buildings.

   It is not just the photographs that the duo unearthed that make it a good read. The book is packed with information about the houses, using local knowledge or quoting from previously published books.

   I am pleased to say that one of my photographs has been used. I took a more modern view of Pillory Street (right) - featuring what is now Christians, the home furnishings and rooms shop, and Pockets, the menswear shop. But many people may know - if not remember - it as P.H.Chesters, the grocers.

   The picture was taken for an exhibition staged by the two authors for Nantwich Museum, featuring Nantwich pubs. My picture contrasted the modern-day view with a drawing by Herbert St John Jones, the Nantwich artist, of the street - then much narrower at the junction - when it was the location of several public houses.

   The picture shows the view towards Nantwich Square.

   I thought I knew Nantwich well, but there are a number of buildings mentioned in the book which I cannot recall, even though they were still in existence when I was walking the town as a local reporter. I must have gone round with my eyes shut!

   On the other hand, I am pleased to have been able to help Andrew Lamberton and his team with information that will no doubt come in handy for the first reprint! Referring to Cooper's Entry, between 44 and 46 Hospital Street, they surmise that "several cottage in a yard" might have been Albion Place, listed as having eight cottages in 1913.

   Not so. Albion Place stood nearly half a mile away in London Road, behind the Wright Almshouses (since moved brick-by-brick to Beam Street) and The Bull's Head pub and not far from Churche's Mansion.

   I know because as a young lad, I was a regular visitor to one of the six houses there, the home of my paternal grandparents. I remember this as a two-up-and-two-down terrace house with a kitchen added on to the back and a pail closet in the small yard behind. Despite the small number of rooms, the first one you came to through the front door was the parlour, kept for best and unused apart from special occasions, as far as I know. Dried leaves of the honesty plant were on display in this room.

    I particularly remember the open space in front of the row of houses which were set back from London Road on an angle. From my reading of local books, I am guessing that this area was once part of a tannery. It was not big enough for any further houses and if Albion Place had been any nearer to London Road the terrace would not have been as wide.

    The houses were demolished in the early 1960s

with a garage built on the site. 

   "Lost Houses" also refers to Johnson's Court in Mill Street with the comment: "It is difficult to 



identify the houses here in the 1792 Rates Book and the 1851 Town Map indicates there may have been four cottages here."  It also quotes Harry Johnson, local printer, and publisher of the very useful Johnson's Almanack and Directory - now sadly no longer published. He says: "25 yards down on the right was an entry to an open yard, paved with cobblestones in front of two decrepit cottages . . ."

   I think I worked there - much later, of course. Not in the yard, but in what was then an office. I believe this entry would have been the site of the corridor which led to the Nantwich Guardian office at 4 Mill Street. The corridor was lined with glass cases in which were displayed the photographs that had been used in the newspaper.

   At the end of the corridor, a glass door opened on to the reception section of the offices and behind that was a separate office for the Nantwich head of the paper (Geoff Nulty) with a further office where I and colleagues worked.

   This part of the offices was located behind the shop next door, No 4a. I recall that the back door led out to a corridor which we shared with the shop and outside - in what must once have been the cobbled open yard - were outbuildings. The area outside wasn't big enough for two, let alone four cottages, so the area must have been divided up into the backs of several buildings.

   The 1908 map of Nantwich (available from the Museum) shows a large area here, rather than a shop and offices. It has to be the former Johnson's Court. The corridor is now closed with a metal shutter. I am sure that was the location of the entry, rather than the large black doors just next to it towards High Street, as has been suggested as a possibility.

    I can also recall the row of cottages in Beam Street - opposite the Shakespeare Hotel - where a row of shops now stands. The terraced cottages probably occupied little more than the present forecourt of the shops. The home of my maternal grandparents was one of the row.

   Again, the cottages were two-up-and-two-down but this time the kitchen was the back room, part of the

main structure.

   Outside was a shared yard with a separate flush toilet for each house. Beyond the buildings, up to the then Baptist Chapel (now Market Street Church - Baptist and United Reformed) were gardens.

   Next door but one to the family home, the cottage

had a rear extension. I can recall a large, ivy-clad wall of a house to the right of the backyard. I read somewhere that it was a motorcycle and cycle shop although I cannot for the life of me visualise the frontage.

   I'm getting to sound like the local residents that, as a young reporter, I used to quote in newspaper articles as they remembered Nantwich past


l "Lost Houses in Nantwich", which cost 16.99 when published, can still be found by doing an Internet search. Perhaps not at that price.

    The same goes for a book in similar vein covering the areas outside Nantwich, called "Lost Buildings Around Nantwich", at 14.99.

    A third book that Andrew Lamberton had in mind to produce, "Lost Houses of Cheshire", did not make it to book shops


l"Lost Houses Around Nantwich!" was written by Andrew Lamberton and the late Robin Gray and published by Landmark Collector's Library.

   Andrew Lamberton says: "I've had information that the publishers of the two books have gone into liquidation."

   However, regular website visitor, Eileen Jones, told me: " 'Lost Buildings Around Nantwich' can still be bought on, price 9.98. I was looking at my copy only last night. What a pity I wasn't full of all this knowledge when at school. I'd be a millionairess now!


l A NEW BOOK (2012) featuring Nantwich Museum pictures of Nantwich - "Britain in old Photographs : Nantwich" (The History Press, 12.99), by Andrew Lamberton and Anne Wheeler, is on sale from Nantwich Museum and Nantwich Book Shop. 


l Robin Gray died just before Easter 2006, a few months after the first book was published. But Andrew Lamberton and one or two others continued the work of publishing the books.


l See this page for some of the lost properties - and what is on the sites now.

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