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This familiar landmark stands outside the entrance to Chester Castle and shows Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton, the first Viscount Combermere.
The colourful story behind this figure relates to the subject's distinguished military and political service at home and overseas. Stapleton-Cotton was born in 1773, lived at the family seat at Combermere Abbey in Shropshire, and entered the army aged 16 as a second-lieutenant. He rose through the ranks to become one of the leading cavalry officers in Europe and was reportedly a friend of both the Duke of Wellington and George III.
Having served in Flanders, Stapleton-Cotton then travelled to India between 1796 and 1799 where he took part in the storming of Seringapatam. He then travelled to Ireland, being promoted to major-general in 1805. Between 1806 and 1809 he served as the Member of Parliament for Newark and succeeded to the baronetcy in 1809, despite leaving for Portugal in the previous year to command a brigade in the Peninsular War. The actions of his men were critical to the victories at Talavera and Salamanca and led to the personal thanks of the Duke of Wellington and the award of the Order of the Bath. His splendid appearance for battle also led to his nickname of the 'Lion of Gold' by the Spaniards. A serious arm injury in 1812 necessitated a spell at home but he returned to play his part in the Battle of Orthes, which saw the retreat of the French.
In 1817 he was appointed Commander General and Governor of Barbados, before travelling to India in 1825 to become Commander-in-Chief. He played an important part in the storming of the fortress at Bhurtpore in 1826, which ushered in a 32-year period of peace in the sub-continent. He was awarded the title of Viscount Combermere of Bhurtpore for his efforts in India before returning home to serve as a Member of Parliament from 1830. In 1855 he succeeded the Duke of Wellington as the Constable of the Tower of London and also gained the title of Field Marshall in the same year. He died in February 1865 and was buried at St Margaret's Church in Wrenbury.
In recognition of Viscount Combermere's services to his country, subscribers throughout Cheshire contributed towards the £5,000 cost of the bronze equestrian statue by Baron Carlo Marochetti. This was unveiled in October 1865 in Chester and still provides a reminder of the varied career of this well-travelled individual. Further evidence of his life is an obelisk placed in the grounds of Combermere Abbey by his wife and a memorial in Wrenbury Church. This lists the 17 battles fought by the subject and an epitaph by Gray: 'the paths of glory lead but to the grave'.
STALLHOLDERS were worried about the future of Flint's 700-year-old open air market, pictured, next to the town hall due to the recession and mass unemployment.
PUPILS of Mold's Bryn Glas School for the Deaf and Contact Club were thrilled with the delivery of their £7,000 Variety Club Sunshine Coach.
AN APPLICATION for a single storey extension to Sychdyn Primary School was approved by Clwyd Planning Committee.
TRAVELLERS living under the constant threat of eviction from a windswept corner of Buckley Common hit out at Clwyd County Council for failing to provide an official campsite for them.
CLWYD Highways Department expressed support for the Department of Transport's national campaign to curb drinking and driving over the festive season.
THE Citizens Advice Bureau in Flint Town Hall was condemned by the organisation's full-time officials as being cramped and totally unsuitable.
THE Halkyn Countryside Commission announced plans to reclaim more than six acres of land during 1984 at the old Pen-y-Bryn lead mine.
CLWYD councillors were told that out of 3,500 archaeological sites in the county, only about 350 were legally protected.
A COMPANY manufacturing freezers announced it was opening a factory in Flint and creating 150 jobs in the process.
ALYN and Deeside Council pleaded with the Government not to press ahead with spending cuts that would curtail the construction of small factory units in Sealand.
ONLY three handicapped and elderly people took advantage of a special evening shopping spree at Woolworth's in Shotton.
CHESTER historian David Ellis remembers the city's other playhouse, the Royalty Theatre, which provided entertainment for more than 80 years.
David writes: "Many people in Chester will remember the Royalty Theatre, which was built on the site of the Prince of Wales Theatre on City Road, which had seen better days."
"The Royalty, which was advertised to opened on December 23 1882, opened on Boxing Day 1882 instead. The first production to be seen on the 27-foot stage was Aladdin, written by stage manager John Bannister."
David describes the theatre as being designed in the Elizabethan and Queen Anne style with two ornate wooden balconies shaped in swan's neck curves. Two statues graced the side walls representing music and drama.
David goes on: "In 1900 the theatre was purchased from James (Jas) Carter by Milton Bode. Bode ran the 1,000-seat venue until it was taken over by Edmund Keyes.
"It closed for extensive alterations on February 4, 1957 and reopened on July 8 that year with a production of Meet Mr Callaghan.
"Dennis Critchley joined the Royalty team in the 1950s as manager. He directed many of the productions, and occasionally performed. In the 1960s, following her father's death, Ursula Keyes took control. Ironically, the last pantomime was Aladdin starring Miki and Griff, a popular duo of the time."
Other famous names to play at the Royalty included a young upcoming Liverpool band - The Beatles.
According to David said the Royalty was eventually converted into a cabaret club called the Theatre Royalty club which also played host to bingo, wrestling and skateboarding.
He is sad that Chester no longer has a theatre.
He said: "It is sad that a city that once boasted having several cinemas and the resplendent Royalty Theatre no longer has a venue for staging touring productions.
"The Gateway was a fine replacement for the much-loved Royalty, playing host to famous names and staging many fine plays and musicals.
"As the Northgate development is some way off it would make sense to make full use of the building. Hats off to Tip Top Productions. They are using part of the theatre and are helping keep alive live entertainment in Chester."
Not all of the Royalty is lost to Chester. In January 2002 Roger Shone, a cinema and theatre enthusiast, with a couple of friends, Chris and Robin Smith, saved the plasterwork that decorated the arch-shaped proscenium. Roger also salvaged other items including the statues and a 1930s Strand Electric spotlight illuminated by carbons.
TEMPERATURES are below zero and the city's suburban pavements are like ice rinks. But Chester's skating fraternity have not yet had to sharpen their blades to get out on the River Dee for a swift race from Eccleston down to the weir.
Ducks have been seen grappling to keep their footing on blocks of ice floating down the river but temperatures haven't quite dropped to levels observed in the 1960s.
Back in 1963, the river completely froze over and Cestrians were out and about walking on water and The Chronicle has unearthed some photographs of this frosty phenomenon.
In one, a couple are larking about just below the Queen's Park suspension bridge and in another, an onlooker takes a risk as he tries to snap a flock of swans swimming up a small channel of water.
In 2004, The Chronicle was sent a photograph taken in 1963 by Mr E H Roberts of Hoole. The colour slide shows Mr Roberts' late wife Flo in the foreground and in the background a couple of nuns crossing the frozen expanse.
Do you have any memories or photographs of the River Dee when it froze over? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org,uk
MOST of us in this part of the world have a soft spot for the rural delights of Frodsham and the rustic charm of its surrounding villages.
The Domesday Book had Frodsham inscribed on its pages and there has been a market there since the 13th century. The name of St Laurence, the best known of Frodsham's churches, both past and present, can also be found in the Domesday Book.
The railway came to the town as far back as 1850 and a stone bridge was built across the marsh. Castle Park remains one of Frodsham's enduring attractions and is as popular today as was the old Mersey View landmark.
All of which gives me the opportunity to present one courageous lady's view of her hometown, described in verse under the heading A Very Potted History of Frodsham.
Joyce Warner penned her version of Frodsham through the centuries in 1999 for Frodsham History Society in preparation for the then forthcoming millennium celebrations.
Joyce suffered from motor neurone problems for 19 years but continued to pen poetry and raise money on behalf of the society.
Her daughter, Gill, of Beechwood, Runcorn, kindly gave me a copy of her mother's work following her death. It appears here and I hope you will find it as enjoyable as I did.
A VERY POTTED HISTORY OF FRODSHAM
TWO thousand years of history - it's hard to visualise.
So many scenes, so many men will pass before our eyes.
From Roman times to present day their stories have been told
We read of their achievements, these stalwart men of old.
And what of Frodsham through the years? - there's not a lot to know.
For the first thousand years at least, nor do the records show
If it was "Froda's hamlet" or "Hamlet on the Ford".
That's an interesting fact historians don't record.
We do know that a Roman road found Frodsham on its way
To Middlewich from Chester's fort, called Deva in its day.
Then, in the seventh century, the Vikings landed near
And Frodsham men helped man the forts that stopped them settling here.
The Domesday Book had Frodsham's name inscribed on its page.
It's said that Frodsham "Castle" is also of this age.
And since the 13th century there's been a market here -
though what was sold in those days wouldn't sell today, I fear.
Destroyed and rebuilt many times, "The Castle", as 'twas known
'Til in the 18th century became a family home.
Then in the 1930s it was put in council care
That the folk of rural Runcorn could find enjoyment there.
If you visit Castle Park today you have a treat in store:
There's tennis courts, a bowling green, an art centre and more.
A playground for the children and homes for the retired.
And the beauty of the gardens leaves visitors inspired.
Also in the Domesday Book, St Lawrence Church is found
Rebuilt in the next century, the traces still abound
Of Norman arches, pillars, and also you will see
A 15th century sedile ( a seat to you and me).
Many additions through the years, replacements and repairs.
Chancel and two chapels added, pews replaced by chairs.
But still the ancient nave remains, where people kneel to pray.
Proof that the faith our forbears knew is still alive today.
The rest of Frodsham's churches: Five Crosses, Trinity, Bourne,
The Rock, "The Union", were built last century.
Sadly some churches, founded then, this century have gone.
St Luke's and Main Street Chapel were founded later on.
It was in 1850 when the railway came to town
The stone bridge built across the Marsh, the iron bridge knocked down
Then shortly after that they opened up the Mersey View
You could have swings and donkey rides, tea and ice cream, too.
And soon the helter-skelter came - you'd queue up for a ride
Pay a penny, climb the stairs, sit on a mat and slide!
But by the 1970s it had really had its day -
They knocked the helter-skelter down and carried it away.
But you will find the Mersey View a different place today.
Where teenagers have discos and dance the night away.
While built next door is Forest Hills, hotel and club for leisure
Where you can dine, lift weights or swim - whatever gives you pleasure.
In olden times the wars were fought with arrows, spear and pike
And cannonballs and powder kegs, crossbows and the like.
We have not changed - we still fight wars - but nowadays, alas,
It's likely to be nuclear bombs or deadly poison gas.
Two World Wars this century and each one took its toll
Of Frodsham's men and women; their names upon a Roll
of Honour on an obelisk on top of Frodsham Hill
Though many years have passed since then, their memories honoured still
'Twas in the 1950s Frodsham started to expand
Houses grew like mushrooms on our green and pleasant land
Impossible to cross the road - the traffic was so fast
They had to build a motorway; we had some peace at last.
But still you'll find in Main Street memories of days of yore
The Bear's Paw and the Old Hall, thatched cottages galore
And high above the town St Lawrence keeps his vigil still.
The ever present watchman sitting there upon the hill.
So Frodsham, once hamlet, then a village, now a town
Retains much of its old world charm, though older people frown
To see the houses spring up where once the fields were green
And supermarkets fill the space where village shops have been.
In the past two centuries much change has taken place
The motor car, the aeroplane - man even walks in space.
Communication, medicine, technology and such
We celebrate the pioneers to whom we owe so much.
But remember, as you dance all night or party until late
Two thousand years since Christ was born is what we celebrate.
So many men have died for their belief, but, sad to say,
So few of us will be in church on the Millennium Day.
MANY people will mourn the passing of Woolworths with the sad closure of its stores in Nantwich and Sandbach. But it also revives memories of when Woolies was a feature of Crewe's shopping centre.
Over recent years, people have often said what Crewe town centre needed was a branch of Woolworths.
But back in the 1960s, F W Woolworth and Co was one of the main stores in town with a flourishing branch in Market Street opposite the junction with Earle Street.
The large branch, across the road from the corner where the Adelphi public house once stood, is shown in a couple of pictures in the Crewe Memory Lane series of books by retired Chronicle photographer Gordon Davies, including one from 1962.
Back in those heady days of the 60s, the big brown counters at Woolworths stocked practically everything - usually cheaper than anywhere else - and in more recent years it was still a big draw for many.
Former Chronicle journalist Mark Smith, who now writes the excellent Northerner column for the guardian.co.uk weekly digest of the best of the Northern press, is one with fond memories. He wrote: "Being in Nantwich this Christmas, will have further significance for me: it will be the last chance I get to shop at the local Woolies.
"The town has so far remained defiant in the face of galloping chain store procurement, but Woolies was the exception. In fact, until I was about 11, I thought it was Nantwich's very own. Then I saw a Woolies in Inverness, and wished I could tell my late nan that there was another - she loved Woolies.
"My nan practically raised me, and I swear that, every single day in every summer holiday at primary school, she took me to Woolies. There would always be something she wanted, or something she wanted to get me, or something I wanted her to get me. We practically lived there. I fear her passing may also have sounded the death knell for Woolworths Nantwich."
Copies of the Crewe Memory Lane books by Gordon Davies are on sale at the Crewe Chronicle office including the final one, Volume Six, offered at a reduced price of £6.99.
DID you know that cobwebs were once used to heal cuts? Or that the Victorians believed that allowing mice to run up the spine would cure a bad back?
Or perhaps you remember layers of goose grease, a red flannel and a liberty bodice to ease coughs and colds?
Chester Grosvenor Museum's new exhibition - Kill or Cure: Medicines & Remedies - which runs until February 22 takes visitors back in time to explore the medicines and remedies of bygone times, be they strange, sensational or perfectly sensible.
Try and imagine a time without newspapers, television dramas set in hospitals or neatly packaged medicines.
It was a time when ignorance and/or illiteracy meant most people failed to understand exactly what made them ill, never mind what could make it better.
Add in the serious diseases of history, be they the more distant plagues or more recent influenza epidemics, and you get a climate of fear and uncertainty and a willingness to try almost anything to protect that precious commodity of good health.
Using original objects, fun interactives and oral histories, this exhibition explores the often astounding but always ingenious ways that we have sought to cure ourselves of our ills.
Entry to the exhibition is free and the gallery is fully accessible.
Do you recognise any of this smiling bunch?
This picture of the third year class at St Mary's Catholic Primary School at Crewe back in 1963 was found by former pupil Daniel Riley as he rummaged through his mother's old albums.
Daniel, 55, who lives at Burchmuir Close in Crewe and works for a CCTV firm, says the picture brought back fond memories of his days at the Dane Bank Avenue primary.
He said: "I think we were 10 years old in the picture and we're all smiling so we must have been having fun. Even our teacher Mrs Mason is smiling.
"At the back of the picture you can see the stage where we used to do our nativity plays.
"I still keep in touch with a couple of the guys on the picture but I want to share it with everyone so hopefully others will recognise themselves.
"I remember it was a very strict time and religion was everything but we still managed to have fun."
If you have any information on this picture, please contact: The Chronicle, 32-34 Victoria Street, Crewe CW1 2JE or email@example.com
PEGGY WOODCOCK looks back on 40 years of Chester's inimitable Gateway Theatre.
I remember the Gateway stage rippling with water for a stunning production of Pinter's emotive play Betrayal.
On the same stage I once talked to acting legends Pauline Collins, of Shirley Valentine fame, and John Alderton, currently in BBC's Little Dorrit.
These hugely successful actors memorably made clear the value they placed on small venues like the Gateway, and their determination to give support.
I remember children squealing and laughing through Charlotte's Web, Jungle Book and other Christmas productions, some of which went on to other theatres.
There was the youthful Hamlet writing red graffiti on dazzling white walls. Not for me, but, away from the classroom, a teenage audience was actually enjoying Shakespeare!
The Chronicle campaign is rightly focusing on the present, pressing for a re-opened Gateway as a way of redressing the dire situation existing for the arts in the city centre.
The strong case is being argued on these pages. Maybe some snapshots from the past will help to bolster it, to remind everyone what an asset the Gateway was to the city.
I helped report the Gateway from the early nineties, when the theatre created its own productions of wide-ranging plays like the shocking, brave, gay Torch Song Trilogy, the happy Yorkshire-set Second from Last in the Sack Race, the passionate Wuthering Heights, the thriller Night Must Fall.
Artistic director Jeremy Raison, now at Glasgow Citizens Theatre, attracted talent like actor Patrick Robinson, Ash in Casualty and then the first black Heathcliff in Chester. He went on to Stratford, is now in the TV drama Survivors.
Raison brought in household names, like Michael le Vell, Coronation Street's Kevin Webster, making his first foray into theatre as the sinister Dan in Night Must Fall.
It brought the national press to the Gateway as, later, did heavyweights Dennis Waterman, Patrick Mower and the late Ned Sherrin, when they made our theatre the first stop for their scriptwriter comedy Bing Bong.
The theatre commanded respect within the industry and helped talent grow.
And it entertained as Raison upped audience figures to more than 84% and brought a prestigious regional theatre award to the Gateway. He gave us rock and roll summers with great shows like Three Steps to Heaven, which twice went on to national tours.
I remember the relief of crucial Arts Council funding and the welcome arrival of pink seats from the Mayflower, Southampton - second-hand but such comfort! - and of Deborah Shaw, a talented director who made a success of the recent mammoth Complete Works of Shakespeare Festival in Stratford.
Passionate about the Gateway, she promised "the best of theatre, what Chester deserves and should have" and delivered with treats like a delightful Alice in Wonderland, a clever Vanity Fair and a lively version of the Hitchcock thriller Marnie.
Sadly the Gateway ceased as a producing theatre but went on delivering entertainment as a venue for visiting companies, stand-ups and other performers.
I remember laughter with Maria Gibb as a comic Joyce Grenfell, Aussie Caroline Reid, naughty as trolly dolly PamAnn, and Rodney Bewes, a delight in Three Men and a Boat.
And the fun of Hull Truck's nightclub Bouncers and football Perfect Pitch.
Colin Baker boomed through The Haunted Hotel and Rula Lenska shocked, well, some of the audience, in The Vagina Monologues.
I remember the pathos of Trestle's masked Stoneheads and the drama of death, bagpipes and Edinburgh Castle on stage for Tunes of Glory.
Soap stars came: Steven Pinder (Brookside) in Dial M for Murder, Chloe Newsome (Corrie) in Pride and Prejudice, and Scarlet Johnson (Eastenders) as Daisy Miller.
Rani Moorthy cooked curry on the same stage where, years earlier, Sunny Ormonde, as Shirley Valentine, had memorably fried chips and egg.
So many local societies entertained with opera and musical theatre, like Tip Top Productions, now keeping the Forum Studio alive.
It was here I watched school kids engrossed in a dark, mini Macbeth, and the marvellous Iestyn Edwards reduce his mini audience to tears of laughter as ballerina Madame Galactica.
You will all have your own memories of the Gateway, of productions that have made you sad, made you laugh, made you think, enriched your life.
But like me you will remember arriving to a crowded foyer buzzing with anticipation for the entertainment ahead, whatever it may be - this same foyer where once, earlier in the day, you may well have had a coffee or a sandwich lunch.
Great days. Let's get them back!
READERS responded with some alacrity to the idea that they should submit their own suggestions for names they felt worthy of inclusion in the borough's Blue Plaque scheme.
The above picture shows one nominee, Canon Perrin in his chaplain's uniform, with soliders and nurses in the vicarage grounds in 1917. In the First World War, All Saints' Parish Church vicarage in Highlands Road was used as an emergency hospital and some 3,460 wounded servicemen were treated there.
The aim of Halton Council's project is to put up 50 plaques in the twin towns and surrounding villages.
The blue plaque awards can also commemorate notable and momentous events or places and buildings.
First off the mark was Runcornian Betty Helsby, of Coronation Road, who believes the borough should honour the work of the former vicar of All Saints' Parish Church, the late Canon H N Perrin, who was also recognised in years past as the Vicar of Runcorn.
Canon Perrin came to Runcorn in 1912. He refused to live in the damp, dilapidated old vicarage in Highlands Road and had a new vicarage built at his own expense. During the Great War, he handed over the new vicarage and all its outbuildings to the military and it was used as a hospital for wounded servicemen. He was the representative for the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Families Association and was contacted by many servicemen for help.
Canon Perrin's eldest son was killed while serving in the RAF during the Second World War. The canon's services were recognised in the Honours List and he was in his Seventies when he retired in 1946 and went to live in Clifton, Bristol.
Norman Kitson, of Windsor Road, Widnes, wrote: "The name that stands out for Widnesians to honour is Roy Chadwick, the gentleman who designed the Lancaster bomber.
"Roy was born at Marsh Hall, Derby Road, Farnworth, in 1893. He left Widnes at the age of eight when his father relocated to a job in Manchester. He left school in 1911 and started work at Avro, the Manchester aircraft firm, as a draughtsman.
"The firm relocated to Woodford, Cheshire, and Roy was promoted to chief designer in the 1930s. The rest, as they say, is history..."
Mr Kitson notes that Manchester University bestowed an Honorary Master of Science degree on him and he was later awarded the CBE. He also had a stamp and a first-day cover in his honour.
"Yet," Mr Kitson says, "the town of his birth has done nothing to honour him."
I also received a call from a Widnes lady who was at Wade Deacon Grammar School when the town's former MP, the late Gordon Oakes, was a pupil.
The lady, who wished to remain anonymous, reeled off the names of several people whom she thought were deserving of recognition but said she was opposed to the idea of honouring them with plaques because she believed that, inevitably, many deserving people would be omitted from the list.
She obviously felt pretty strongly about her old school, the "outstanding" Wade Deacon Grammar School. She said it would not have been built but for the efforts Henry Wade Deacon.
She also mentioned one or two former heads responsible for the school's high standards and a Dr Cecil Nelson who had a surgery at West Bank and worked every weekend, starting at 8am.
Commander Shawcross, a former Widnes MP, and the late Cllr Dick Illidge, were other people she mentioned.
In the First World War, All Saints' Parish Church vicarage in Highlands Road was used as an emergency hospital and some 3,460 wounded servicemen were treated there. Here, soldiers and nurses are seen with Canon Perrin in his chaplain's uniform in the vicarage grounds in 1917.