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Welcome to the Christleton Blog. This is the best place to check what is happening as I tend to mention here any new items or features to the website as and when they happen and give a link to where you will find them. But I would encourage you to click around the site and explore. You are currently in the main part and you will find links to two other main sections. The Christleton War Voices which has an immense amount of information about Christleton in World War I. The other is Christleton 3 which is rich in photographs and includes two regular monthly features. Wildlife Watch and The History File. Enjoy.


All About Shops Now

Never before have shops been so much in the news. Even before this wretched Covid 19 some of the big names had started to disappear from our high streets. What will happen when life returns to some sort of yet unknown normality I do not know. There has been such a switch to online shopping only time will tell if all those shoppers will return to the real shops. I had an antique shop at 25 Watergate Street, Chester for 30 years. I think I enjoyed part of the golden years of Chester being a centre for antique shops and galleries. The Chester listing in the yearly Guide to Antique Shops in the UK used to take up 6 pages or more. The shops were spread around the city but most of them were in Watergate Street. This was probably due to it being the last of the main streets to be upgraded and therefore rents were more affordable.

I opened there in 1968 buying the remaining part of the lease from Raymond Plant, a dealer who specialised in fine English furniture, sporting prints and other pictures. I think he lived at Ivy House in Pepper Street, Christleton. I can remember first visiting the shop in my late teens when it was an antiquarian bookshop run by Mr. Langley. Dressed usually in a long raincoat he used to sit at the back of the shop whistling at times an incomprehensible tune. But I remember there was that wonderful aroma of dusty old books. The shop was lit by about three electric light bulbs hanging from a low ceiling. When Raymond later ran the shop he had the floor dug out so he was able accommodate longcase clocks and other tall furniture. This now meant that you had to go down steps into the the shop. When I moved in I found the old skirting boards still intact 3 feet above floor level. When I moved out in 1998 there was a good demand for small shops and I was able to sell the balance of my Chester Council lease. It could be a long time before anyone can do that again as there is now a large selection of empty properties for aspiring entrepreneurs. Number 25 has been empty and to let for 18 months or more. When in town its nice to go and have a look at the old shop. It evokes a lot of memories. I wonder if in years to come a historian will notice that the hanging sign above the front door has in the ironwork bracket supporting it the letter N. This was made to order in the late 1970's by Barry Crump, the Blacksmith in Christleton. There is a photo of Barry Crump working at his smithy by the High School in David Cumming's April edition of his fascinating new series - Christleton in the Past.


Outside Entertainment

The April edition of Wildlife Watch by David Cummings is now online. It makes cheering reading hearing how our natural world continues to thrive whilst the human race is on pause due to the dreadful pandemic. If you have a bird feeder within sight of your kitchen window where one seems to spend time you will be continually entertained by garden visitors. I have not seen a Gereenfinch on my feeder for a long time as David illustrates. The almost permanent inhabitant is a Wood Pigeon who walks, parades and scampers around the base of the bird feeder totally relient on the Blue Tits, Coal Tits and sometimes Robin throwing seed down to him. I often toss some seed down in the same place to supplement the Tits' donations but very often this is digested by a squirrel who magically appears on cue. Endless entertainment outside.

Cliff Boddy

The Memories Cliff Boddy

The History File for April by David Cummings is now online. It is the memories of Cliff Boddy , a choirister, scribe and verger who served the congregation at St. James' Church for 79 years. A fascinating look at the man and our village of Christleton. I am so pleased to have in my possession a copy of the wonderful plan of Christleton that Cliff made and which has been featured on the home page of the Christleton website for the past few years.


Remembering a Wonderful Artist

It is sheer excitement in the March edition of Wildlife Watch by David Cummings. Winter is fading away and Spring is upon us with all of its natural wonder. The fine photo of a Shelduck took me back to when I used to live on the banks of the Menai Straits in Bangor. On a visit to The Tegfryn Gallery in Menai Bridge I was greatly impressed with a watercolour by Charles F. Tunnicliffe, OBE, RA of a Siamese Cat in a tree. Unfortunately I did not have the sense to buy it but soon afterwards my father got to know the artist visiting him at his house in Maltraeth which looked towards the Snowdonia range. In those days you could commission a painting from the great man for about £250 which my father did. It was a full size work of Shelduck and Young. when we heard the painting was completed I went with my father to collect it. Charles was working in his studio surrounded by many examples of his work. He used to make preparatory drawings on a type of greaseproof paper which had watercolour added. These drawings were later used to trace outlines onto the end white art paper. Charles sat on a kind of typists chair with wheels which he manoeuvred around, very often running over the drawings lying on the floor, endangering their very life. A memory I will never forget. The Shelduck painting came to Christleton when we moved in 1977. Charles Tunicliffe died two years later in 1979. My father decided to sell the painting in later years when it was offered at a sale at Sotheby's in Watergate Street, Chester. It was such an impressive work that its image appeared on the front and back cover of the sale catalogue. By this time the unpopular buyer's premium has been introduced where 10% of the hammer price was added to what the purchaser had to pay. This goes directly to the auctioneers. The percentage of this obscene charge has since risen a number of times and in many cases can now be 25% to 30% or even more. I wonder if any vendors bother to think about the difference they receive to what the purchaser actually pays. I worked in an auction room in my early 20's. A commision of 10% on the hammer price was paid by the vendor. No additional charges to the purchaser.

Monarch on the Canal at Christleton

Living with History

Some lovely photographs in David Cummings' new series about Christletin in the Past. This month he stays on the canal but this time it is all about the historic working narrow boats. We are lucky to be near Ellesmere Port where there is an Easter Festival at the Boat Museum. Not this year though due to Covid 19. All the more reason to enjoy David's illustrated article for March.

Stoneydale, Christleton

Living with History

When I get the time to read fiction, which unfortunately is not as often as I would like, I would probably choose a book by Wilbur Smith. But for a taste of histoty which I love it would be C. J. Sansom. You can just about smell the foul streets and houses as he takes you back to the time Henry VIII. I did not feel the same magic when listening recently to a dramatisation on BBC Radio 4 of Sansom's "Lamentation". Which goes to prove there is nothing like a book. A real book in black and white where you can physically feel the paper and turn the pages. Unbeatable. But this month David Cummings has transported me not quite so far back as Tudor times but into the 1900's in my own house, where I am typing this blog, with the story of a previous resident Lt. Colonel John Dolphin CBE. Just one more result of David's never ending research into local history.

Flooded Gowy

Enough is enough

Back in the late 1950's I can remember that my Tommy Steel records got played a lot. What an endearing and cheeky chappie he was and still is. The whole family loved him, so when he came to the Liverpool Empire with his Steelmen it was date not to be missed with my parents. Those were the days when lyrics were just as important as the music. One of his songs was Water Water which started off

Water, water, ev'rywhere and not a drop to drink

So tell me now

What else can a poor fellow do

But sit right down and think?

Think of how many other songs there are about water. I will start you off with It's Raining Men. Yes that one gets your feet tapping. Or you can read the History File for February by David Cummings. There is more than enough water there.

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