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Richard III sold Northwich to the Stanleys….

Joe Allman’s shop on Winnington Hill in the 1950s

On 17th September 1483, Richard III sold the manor and village of Northwich, Cheshire, to the Stanleys. Did that grasping family do some good for once? Or did Northwich wish Richard had kept it? Who knows. The Stanleys were certainly expert at acquiring property and then hanging on to it—Northwich remained theirs until the late 18th century.

Regarding Northwich itself, this site deals with photographs of its 1950s self. It’s always astonishing to see how much things have changed in the last half-century or more…and how much some things haven’t. The house in the above image (Joe Allman’s shop) looks as if it should have fallen in on itself centuries ago, yet there it stood…until removed by the soulless powers-that-were.

Regarding Joe Allman’s shop in the image, according to Francis Frith :-

“…. This shop had solid soil floors. It was full of old junk which now I suppose would be classed as antiques. Joe Allman was the owner and was made to leave as the Council stated that the building was unfit for human occupation; another great blunder by the local council that seems to be hell bent on removing anything of interest in Northwich.  The shop was situated at the bottom of Winnington Hill, next door to the barrel roofed house (again destroyed) reputed to have been built by navvies who put their canal tunnel building to use….”

Oh, isn’t this example of wanton vandalism by councils just typical? So much of our heritage was lost this way. It’s something that makes me so angry, because almost all of it was unnecessary. Medieval buildings and whole streets could have been saved with a little thought. Instead they were swept away, usually for modern buildings that won’t stand any test of any time! And aren’t worth preserving anyway.

The above site is well worth a visit because of the photographs…and to learn of Northwich’s development since the 15th century.

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Collecting tolls on the Ouse at York….

York from St Mary's, showing the Barker Tower slight right of centre

York from St Mary’s Tower, showing Barker Tower slight right of centre

How did the citizens of York collect tolls from vessels on the River Ouse? They had a great big chain across the river, between two guardian towers, the Barker Tower and the Lendal Tower on the opposite bank. Simple, but effective.

“This river-side tower was built in the 14th century. It was positioned at the boundary of the medieval city-centre and, in conjunction with Lendal Tower on the opposite bank, was used to control river traffic entering the city. A great iron chain was stretched across the river between the two towers and boatmen had to pay a toll to cross it. The chain also served as a defence for the city. As early as 1380 Thomas Smyth was named as the tower’s ‘keeper of the chain’.

“For boats coming downstream it would be the second toll in quick succession; St Mary’s Abbey had its own tower and toll collection system a little further up the river.

“Barker tower was leased for long periods to various ferrymen (and at least one woman) who ran passengers across the Ouse until Lendal Bridge was built in 1863. The ferry ran ‘in summer and winter, fair weather and foul, Sundays and weekdays’.

“The ferry was put out of business when Lendal Bridge opened in 1863. The tower has had plenty of other uses over the years, including as a mortuary for a brief time in the 19th century.”

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