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Neston Cross Comments Page Exit Tours

The Raby Mere Tour
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To reach Raby Mere, we're going to set off, up High Street, along Liverpool Road and onto the Chester High Road.
Wonderful!!! no cars, no aeroplanes. The only vehicles on the street are both horse-drawn. The only horse & carts I recall, from my childhood, were Tom Wynn, selling his fruit and vegetables and the occasional rag-and-bone man who would hand out a rubber balloon in exchange for a bundle of old, unwanted clothing.
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J. Johnson the plumber & contractor is still advertising on the side of the cafe so not many years difference between this photograph and the the previous one. Somebody has suggested that the chap to the right of the group may be Sergeant Bee, a local bobby, keeping an eye on the Brown Horse delivery.
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Until I came across this photograph, I never knew that the Post-Office had ever occupied this site. I do remember it being at the top of Neston, just before Cross Street and next to the bakery before moving to the Town Hall. The cyclist, on the left, is outside the 'Neston Hotel' which was previously a public house named the 'The Letters' and before that 'The Vaults'. The Neston Hotel closed in 1931.
Neston
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The 'Golden Lion Hotel' on, an almost unrecognisable, High Street. Compare this scene to the photograph below.
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This first shop, on the left-hand side, I remember as George Masons, in the early 1950s, with it's bright red bacon slicer, large tins of loose biscuits and bulk sugar scooped into blue paper bags that were then weighed and neatly folded shut. Mrs. Bostock was the manageress and a near neighbour of ours on Romney Way.
The building opposite was the Co-Op with it's amazing overhead, zip-line system of payment. You would hand the assistant a ten-bob note to pay for your goods, she would place the cash and the till receipt into a metal cup which was then screwed into an overhead attachment. A quick tug on the chain sent it zipping over the shoppers' heads to the cashier who would place the correct change into the cup and send it zipping back to the assistant.
Neston Town Hall
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Neston Town Hall c1904 with it's ivy-covered frontage and well-tended gardens to the front. This was long before the railings to the front were taken, along with the church railings, for the war effort. Such a shame they were never replaced.
Vaults, Neston
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The 'Neston Hotel', formerly known as the 'The Vaults' and 'The Letters', finally closed for business in 1931 although the building was still standing into the early sixties. In it's heyday, it was the most popular stopping off place, when travelling between Parkgate and Liverpool ,with it's superior hotel and stable facilities.
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I can still, just about, remember the old 'Neston Hotel', or at least the empty building. It closed down in 1931. I recall, as a four year old, crouching down and physically shoving a heavy, wooden shutter just to watch it swing to and fro. I assume it was a coal-chute into the cellar. I was wondering why this building would have stood empty for over 20 years but I suppose the war years would account for much of that time... unless, of course, it was used for something else after 'Neston Hotel' closed.
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Gathering outside John George Lee's shop, sometime in the early forties, the local Auxilliary Fire Service and the local Red Cross Unit prepare to march down the high street, towards The Cross.
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C1909. A nice view of the ivy-covered Town Hall complete with iron railings which were later taken, along with the church railings, during the war.
When it was decided that better premises were required for meetings and social events within Neston, leading local residents decided to form a limited liability company to sell shares to finance the building of a suitable hall.
The site chosen was purchased for £500 and was a garden on which stood the Drill Shed, used by the Neston Volunteer Rifle Corps: it had previously been the National School. The foundation stone of Neston Town Hall was laid on 6th September 1888 and it was completed in February 1889.
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C1945. A view straight down the high street, to the Cross. Now, I may be wrong here, but... I seem to remember that, in the early 1950s, beyond the walled area on the right was a bit of rough ground and a small building that housed an old chap who repaired shoes! Or is my memory playing tricks again?
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The barn, on the right, is still Neston's oldest, surviving building.
And notice the lamp on the corner of 'Raby Road', I can remember the gas-lamps all the way up Hinderton Road and along Burton Road. One also stood directly outside my gran's house, in Mayfield Gardens, to be replaced, in the 60s, by a huge concrete lamp-post!
Mission Hall
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This corrugated iron chapel was replaced in 1908 by the present Methodist church on the corner of Park Street and Liverpool Road. Mathew Webb, the first man to swim the English Channel, preached here about the importance of temperance in 1877.
To the right of the picture a young child stands outside Neston's very first telephone exchange.
At this junction, we can turn left, into:
or continue on, towards Raby Mere.
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Neston's first Telephone Exchange was opened in 1893 in Mrs. Youd's Confectionary shop, at the top of Neston.
Neston
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Between Park Street and Cross Street on Liverpool Road c1910. Almost as I remember it in the early fifties apart from that fenced corner, sticking out! The two youngsters are close to, what would become, the bakery entrance with the Post Office next door. Harry Bartley's shop would appear further down, on the right, with the woodyard just beyond.
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Looking back towards Neston, the Station Master's House is on the Left-hand side. The plot of land to the right of the house later became the wood-yard with it's huge stacks of lumber. The wood-yard was accessed by large, double gates situated opposite 'The Malt Shovel'. Again, just vague memories of the smell of fresh sawdust and the short, high-pitched, scream of a circular saw ripping through the wood.
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Continuing to the 'Five Ways' at the top of Liverpool Road, we turn right towards the Red Farm and then left, onto Upper Raby Road, heading towards Raby.
At this point, we can go North towards Thornton Hough
or continue South-East towards Raby Mere.
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Raby Village - 1930.
The pond was still there, with it's ducks, in the sixties when we used to cycle to Raby Mere but sadly, it was in a very sorry state the last time I drove by.
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C1930. Not a regular haunt when we started drinking but we did visit on several occasions.
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Chicken Corner - 1930s.
From Raby Village, we'd cycle straight over the cross-roads at 'Chicken Corner' and follow Raby Mere Road straight down, to the mere. They've since built the M53 which totally disects this route and now entails turning right into Raby Hall Road and then left into Blakely Road.
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The caption that comes with this photograph reads, 'Raby Mere - 1880s' but I'm having difficulty with my bearings! If this is Raby Mere, it's not a part that I'm familiar with!
Raby Mere
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c1887 - The donkeys await the day's visitors. On the left-hand side can be seen the gable-end of the old mill. The mere is man-made and was created by damming the River Dibbins to provide water for the corn mill. The water would pour through the culverts and under the road to where the mill stood, out of picture. A lot of the stone and metalwork was still very evident into the 1960s.
Raby Mere
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c1871 - This is the mill that sat below the level of the road and was fed water from the mere, via a culvert, into the millrace and then onto the waterwheel.
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Raby Mere
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Boating on the Mere - c1917.
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Raby Mere
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Raby Mere
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Mill House, The Dingle, Raby Mere... I can't tell which is the older image. Is the freshly thatched version the older one... or is that a more recent renovation? After the mill closed, the owner opened up the cottage to serve teas to the mere visitors.
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Donkey rides at the Mere - c1910

Liverpool Daily Post - Thursday 26 July. 1906

TO THE EDITOR OF THE POST AND MERCURY

Sir, - Allow me to add my testimony to that of Mr. Coventry on the beauties of Raby Mere where, on a recent visit, I too, observed the absence of the boats but, unlike your correspondent, I found the case to be the usual one where these charming spots of private property have been closed against the public. We must look to the hooligan tripper and the pampered slummer, whom we have taught to expect everything for nothing. We have given him and his too much in the form of free libraries, free hospitals, asylums, cottage homes and lazy houses, that he naturally expects free and destructive entry into ones private gardens of whatever dimensions, while the unfortunate martyr of a tax-payer is barred the priviledge of shooting this spoiler of Nature's handiwork.

Yours etc.
ROSTRUM.

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c1915: Whenever we cycled to Raby Mere, as youngsters, we always had a tanner for a row-boat, which would give us an hour on the water and a few pennies for the arcade machines that were placed along this fence. I remember a netball game, a golf game and a soccer game where two players would insert a penny each into the machine and the winner got his coin back... plus the bagatelle games where you'd set metal balls spinning around, at a furious pace, to eventually drop into numbered cups or tubes.
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Skating at Raby Mere - 1930s.
I never saw Raby Mere frozen, it must have been quite a sight to see the ice packed with skaters and it was quite shallow throughout, so pretty safe, too.


Neston Cross Comments Page Exit Tours

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