Sunday, 29 January 2012

Northwich

Our final stop on our road trip was Northwich.  We have been to Northwich a few times now as it does have quite a few charity shops and can be quite good for shopping. 


Parking in Northwich is relatively straightforward as there is a large car park behind the local Magistrates Court – free too which is a bonus.  On this visit we parked in the Cooperative Supermarket car park near the centre with 3 hours free parking.  I decided to park there for a change as we always get stuck in the traffic on the A559 turning towards Manchester.

Northwich town centre doesn’t look good when passing through in a car, as the shopping centre is one of those damned featureless, concrete confections from the 70s.  Town planners from the 60s and 70s have a lot to answer for, including the pedestrian subway that tunnels underneath the centre of Northwich.  I have never liked pedestrian subways in general as they smell like toilets and are the home to muggers, skateboarding kids and graffiti artists.  I much prefer dodging the traffic than using these subterranean hell holes – I live near one myself and often cross four lanes of traffic than risk the nastiness of the subway.

You can’t escape the fact the shopping centre blights Northwich and on this visit I noticed even more of the shops had closed down in the centre.  One of these shops had been taken over by a charity shop as it is very unusual to have automatic doors on charity shops.  I have to say the doors did seem to have a mind of their own as they either didn’t open or only open enough to let a small child through.  The shop had plenty of space to display its wares too, as often charity shops are cramped and packed to the rafters like a hoarder’s paradise. 

Next to the shopping centre is a covered market.  If you have read the blog before I am not entirely impressed with markets, as I spent practically every Saturday as a child being dragged through one market or another.  However despite this being a rather traditional market I did quite like it – maybe it was because they had a book stall, a record stall (you can spend hours going through the stuff) and a handicraft stall, so it takes the chav factor down several notches.  

Once you have escaped the depressiveness of the shopping centre, there is a nice winding pedestrianised street in the heart of Northwich.  You wouldn’t guess it was there unless you either knew about it or chanced your arm going to Northwich.  The street is peppered with the odd scary looking pub, a department store, plenty of charity shops, regular high street stores and banks you would find on any British high street.  There were a few independent shops too like ‘Antz In Yer Pantz’ children’s shop, old style sweet shop and a knitting shop, which is great to see. 


The street is quite a bizarre selection of building from the modern to black and white Tudor style.  Whilst in other wealthier towns there would have been campaigns about the encroachment of these modern buildings, in Northwich it has a down-to-earth attitude towards development which I simply quite like.

The charity shops weren’t that exciting though.  Although I do quite like the St Luke's Hospice at the top end of the street with its two floors of stock as it has a nice vintage feel to the place.  Neil didn’t find anything, but I found a cheap book I was looking for.  We have found some records on previous visits though and I have a theory that more working class towns have more diverse music tastes than posh towns.  Northwich does have a musical heritage as it was once the home of Tim Burgess from The Charlatans and Steve Hewitt the drummer from Placebo, which is quite a good pedigree really.

What I did notice on this trip was the number of puppies being walked in the town - it was like a puppy school convention.  Clearly this must have been their first trip into Northwich after Christmas – they were going wild for the new found smells and the sight of other dogs.  There were lots of spaniels too, whilst they are lovely dogs they’re a fruit-the-loop breed with their inherent dottiness. It took a lot of willpower from me to not steal one of these fluffy balls of loveliness as they were so cute.

Northwich is a nice down-to-earth town with a life and diversity that is sorely lacking in Winsford.  No doubt we will end up in Northwich again, but I really hope something is done about the shopping centre as it’s the one thing letting the town down.