Thursday, 27 September 2012


Since scaffolding went up around The Crown in Goostrey several weeks ago villagers have  waited anxiously for completion of its transformation. The Crown is more than just a pub though. It has been a centre of local life for generations - albeit in recent times a dubious title as the sadly missed  late Gerry Bridgwood and his wife, Cynthia, struggled against all the odds to keep it open.
 Now under a new team it is being reborn this Friday (September 28) and among the feast of food and beers on offer Gerry has not been forgotten - a real ale called Bridgwood has been created in memory of the former landlord and ex-professional player with Stoke City!
New team in charge at The Crown, Emma and Chris
 The business duo Simon Kalton and Edward Barlow, who have taken over and transformed the Swan at Tarporley,and several other pubs in their quest to "reinstate the traditional British pub  in the heart of Cheshire" have performed the same magic in Goostrey
 With a minimum of structural change, the  inn has been sympathetically refurbished  to become a true village local, in appearance I guess more than it has been for  a century or so. Anyone who feared it was destined to become a trendy chromium plated eatery filled with gastronomic overload will be delighted at the result. 
 I had a sneak preview with Edward Barlow as  a battalion of tradesmen fought to finish off before the 5 pm  opening deadline. It is astonishing what has been achieved in such a short time - and only the incessant rain this week prevented  the completion of the outside face-lift and removal of scaffolding.
The man in charge at The Crown, Chris Jennings, formerly manager at the Church House, Bollington, and his assistant manager, Emma Small, say they will be working all out to put the Crown back on the map at the hub of village life.
"We're a local team and we think we know what's been missing in Goostrey - our concept is simple, we want to recreate what we believe is a true village local and a fabulous place to eat, drink and be merry." 
  And I think we  can all say cheers to that!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


  Goostrey's parish church has organised one of its most ambitious harvest
  festivals  since its foundation more than 800 years ago.
   St Luke’s is holding the week-long celebration of harvest-time in the run up to the church’s  traditional harvest thanksgiving service this coming Sunday (September  30).
Harvest in the sun!
  With so much rain lashing down it has not been much like harvest but each  day this week is being marked in the church with an event and displays. 
The  displays of  harvests of  grain, ocean,  garden, earth and flocks is also  providing
   children from Goostrey Community School and other local schools with the opportunity to take part in hands-on activities  such as pottery making,  weaving woollen thread, sowing seeds and even making a boat to illustrate a Bible story from the Sea of Galilee.      
  The event called Harvest Experience, which is being arranged by a team of volunteers, is based on the success of the Easter Experience held at St Luke’s two years ago.
  Adults are being invited to take part in activities in the church linked to the harvest displays on Thursday between 7.30 pm and 9 pm.
    A harvest supper open to all together with  a folk band in the village hall on Saturday has also been organised as part of the celebrations.
    The vicar, the Revd Ian Gregory, tells me the events will focus on the religious  significance as well as the practical aspects of the different harvests.
   “Harvest festival is one of the most important times in the rural calendar and as such it was felt it was more deserving of attention during the week leading up to our celebration week-end,” he says.
    St Luke’s was built around 1220 and rebuilt in the 18th century when the timbered church  was demolished, but a place of worship may have existed on the site since the Anglo Saxons.
 The first recorded vicar was Abel in 1220 and a yew tree in the churchyard has been identified as 1,200 years old.

Sunday, 9 September 2012


  I've just returned from another little adventure on the bus to Northwich. It was quite a jolly jaunt but this time the round trip took no more than five hours ! But it did include a spot of retail therapy before returning via train from Sandbach  station. Now, I've  often joked at being "confused of Goostrey" - some say it is no joke ! - but on this occasion after the bus dropped me off outside the station I can honestly say I was totally confused. So too was the lady I asked if she knew which side of the station did the Manchester-bound trains stop ! She confided it was also her first visit to Sandbach  station as a Secret Shopper to check on the station staff and she had no idea either. Like many stations on this line, it was securely padlocked, not a soul or fellow traveller in sight and certainly no rail staff to point the way. Several other passengers arrived and, like me, they had no idea but as in TV's Who Wants to be a Millionaire one of them phoned a friend who guessed we'd be on the right tracks if we crossed the bridge to the opposite side. Sure enough, I then spotted a sign on the platform saying Manchester trains - only trouble was there was also an arrow that appeared to direct us back over the bridge  the way we came! All very confusing but by this time my lady  SS had vanished after ascertaining no staff were ever on duty so I decided to stick it out. Wise move as moments later the train came,but it would be helpful if Northern Rail marked its up and down lines clearly.
A notice on the platform told me that moves were afoot to revive Friend's of Sandbach Station.

Station master with five staff at Goostrey Station
(Click on picture to enlarge)

  This is an excellent idea. Since such a group was formed at Goostrey, the station has regained some of its old sparkle with fresh plantings of flowers and hacking back the jungle of grass by enthusiastic volunteers. I hear there are more improvements planned to make the station a more pleasant travelling experience, including the possibility of a shop in the old waiting room. I can hardly believe that in living memory Goostrey   was a hive of activity with its own station master and staff but the evidence is in the picture I reproduce here.
I have no beef with Northern Rail and have no idea why Sandbach station deserved a Secret Shopper. Just to keep the record on line, I've always found its train staff excellent and most helpful !

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


   It seems an eternity since the night in Congleton town hall when a slightly-built, academic-like figure held a capacity audience spellbound with his vision of outer space. I'm afraid his world of planets and pulsars were way beyond my horizons. But then Professor Bernard Lovell, later to become Sir Bernard, was on a mission to show Jodrell Bank radio telescope would not be a blot on the landscape. Many years later when Jodrell Bank was not only well-established but had listed status as an iconic structure of the 20th century, I had good reason to thank Sir Bernard for his powers in persuading the planners to allow its construction. Most people are unaware that JB has the final say on significant developments because of the increased risk of electrical interference to its operations.
Sir Bernard  Lovell
 So when I wrote three paragraphs for the Manchester Evening News about a housing development given the go ahead in Goostrey, with a friend and colleague, Maurice Weaver, we snapped up adjoining plots in Mill Lane. We have  long since moved on, Maurice now settled in  happy retirement in sedate Surrey, and I am across the village in a cottage in Blackden Lane that once served as a meeting house for local methodists and Goostrey tennis club ! Yet, like me, I am sure at times Maurice pauses to thank his lucky stars for Jodrell Bank and the few paragraphs that encouraged our move to the village - in the nick of time  before the property boom went into orbit !
 Sir Bernard, as everyone is aware, died earlier this month at the great age of  98, still in the house at Swettenham where occasionally as a cub reporter I would call with my news editor, the late John Condliffe, who in later life took over the ownership of the Congleton Chronicle, in search of the hottest news from Jodrell Bank. He was always most courteous and I don't believe he ever sent an inquiring journalist away without a nugget for his paper.
First moon landing
 Over the years I have filed stories speculating about messages from little green men from space, the Russian race into space with its Sputniks monitored by the radio telescope and the landing of the first man on the moon by the Americans. It was on moon landing night the Crown Inn had its 15 minutes (or I should say a day) of fame when the world and his uncle descended on the village after the news the pub would open all night to celebrate the occasion. Landlord John Lawton and his wife, Margaret, always friends of the press, put on a media"moon punch" served from a silver bowl in the kitchen as the drama unfolded on TV ! 
  The funeral service for the telescope's founding father is to be held appropriately in the tiny church of St Peter this Thursday in his village where the radio astronomer  played the organ for some 40 years.  I hear the great and the good will be present, the church filled with family and close friends, the service relayed  to the overflow congregation on closed circuit TV in a series of marquees on the car park of the Swettenham Arms.  Sir Bernard's final request was for a simple burial in the churchyard with his wife, who died in 1993. And I guess his most fitting memorial will  be that giant neighbour of ours towering above the Cheshire landscape.

Monday, 30 July 2012


Winner Tom snapped by the local  paper

Tom's a Gooseberry "Olympian" after 64
Years (click images to enlarge)

Tom MacCartney, 88, had much to smile about when he won Goostrey Gooseberry Show for the first time in 64 years of raising berries

The show is filmed by the BBC for a new food series in October
David Heath, last year's winner, is in the picture

 Late Geoff Basford who weighed the Goostrey berries for many years


Sunday, 29 July 2012


 Word from the bushes was there wouldn't be a world champion at the Goostrey Gooseberry Show after the worst growing season in memory. But dogged dedication paid off for veteran Tom McCartney at Saturday's event at The Crown  - his berry won the village show for the first time since he began competing 64 years ago!
 The premier Montrose berry of 22 pennyweights 16 grains was a tiddler compared to golf ball-sized fruits of other years. Even previous champions like David Heath, last year's winner, and Doug Carter, struggled for top places with berries a little over 21 pennyweights separated by a few whiskers.
 Kelvin Archer, a world champion, held the top spot with a berry of  only 27 pennyweights 4 grains at the Red Lion. Lower Withington - a long way from his biggest ever in excess of 34 pennyweights.
 All together Tom, 88, collected five trophies for his entries, including the award for the heaviest twins in the show. But he was less than cock-a-hoop in victory on the same day as the start of the London olympics. 
 "I am almost ashamed at the size of it. But this year I never expected to have a berry even that weight. The year I won the Swettenham show it was over 30 pennyweights."
 Tom began raising gooseberries in 1948 when the olympic games were last in Britain and even he admitted that perhaps size didn't matter this year after all. "It is just like winning something in the olympics."
 The outcome of the show will be there for the world to see in October. The BBC filmed the event for a new celebrity chef series fronted by James Atherton
David Heath, who has the consolation of  the trophy for presenting the best showplate of berries, said: "I forecast it wouldn't be a good year for weights but I still think it was a very good show. Tom did very well indeed."

Wednesday, 25 July 2012



The battle is on at the Crown
David Heath wins at a previous show
   You can talk about the London Olympics, if you like, but this Saturday if you go down to The Crown Inn, Goostrey's own Olympiad will be in full-swing as the titan growers of the Gooseberry clash in combat. The annual Gooseberry Show is a serious affair for the growers, steeped in tradition,  secret potions and determination, a lot of mythology and I suppose a fair amount of real competition to rival the most dedicated athletes in gathering the biggest fruit of the season. I guess because of its name Goostrey is linked with Gooseberries more than any other community.  Over the years it has produced some of the greatest growers in the scattering of villages in mid Cheshire where the shows begin at the week-end, if not a world champion. Sad to say this year is  unlikely to provide a vintage crop, I gather. Word has it on the vine - should say gooseberry bush - that berries presented on the scales will be tiny by comparison with the golf ball proportions of previous events, due to incessant rain, lack of sunshine earlier in the season and an infestation of mildew. "They are busting all over," one aggrieved grower told me as the late onset of soaring temperatures did its worst. But these gooseberry growers are a canny lot and at times can be a little economical with the truth!  David Heath, the reigning Goostrey champion with his Newton Wonder berry of 31pennyweights 13 grains. is more forthcoming than most veteran growers. He has been raising gooseberries for over 40 years and  the many times winner says the season is grim. Now only partially sighted he relies on his wife, Kath, to help and suggests most growers will be lucky to have a berry much more than 30 pennyweights. But he admits that visitors to his garden suggested that his berries  are very good. "I don't really know because I can't see very well," he says. He urges recent growers not to be put off by stories of a poor crop. "I've always said it is not what you have in your box but what other people have got that counts (on the day)." Rumour has it that a TV unit from the  BBC will be at the show as a follow up  to the visit last year for an item in a programme already  screened  about the more quirky of  Britain's village pursuits.

*Click on images to enlarge
The showcase displays the berries
Late Geoff Basford weighs the berries

A world champion, the late Albert Dingle

Friday, 20 July 2012



    You might think I'm  a little daft (oreccentric) when I decided I must have a haircut and took several buses and trains to have a trim. But more in the manner of an experiment, I took off overland  by public transport from Goostrey to my  regular barber's at Lostock Gralam. Now, yes, I  know, I hear what you say that 15 minutes or so in the car and you are there. That supposes a vehicle is at hand but on this occasion there was nothing in the stable I could take, My electric bike was a tad tempting but one look at the weather decided otherwise. It had to be public transport using my free bus pass and rail card .The first part of the trip was child's play. The local bus from the Red Lion to Goostrey station, then within minutes the stopping train to Chelford. But that is where a simple journey becomes a little fraught. I saw the slipstream of the bus to Knutsford just settling as a stepped from the train for the two minute walk to the village.  The next bus was almost an hour later I found but no worries. What the matter there was a fine  home-made pork pie from Boon's butchers shop as compensation for the wait - although it did occur to me not many years ago the Dixon Arms, now replaced by what appears to be granny stackers, would have provided a more hospitable waiting room than the solitary bus stop !
The village centre of Chelford is  one of the most hostile places to stand for a bus as the
 main road from Knutsford to Macclesfield is alive with with the thunder of heavy lorries and a constant flow of other vehicles mostly travelling like bats out of hell. There is a speed limit of sorts that seems to be universally ignored and why the local community hasn't risen in protest at this intrusion I don't know. If ever there was a case for a by-pass Chelford should have a good chance.
It was with relief, with pie consumed and battered by traffic noise, I finally stepped on board the bus for the next stage of the journey. This turned out to be far more pleasant experience. A few minutes on arrival in Knutsford I was able to catch  a connection to Northwich, stopping at Lostock Gralam. Only trouble was it dropped me something like half a mile from my haircut. The driver, I will call Mr Grumpy (in fact he was a miserable  bugger) said if I wanted to catch him on the return he was back in 20 minutes. Sure, I was the only client but even when finished and dusted down within 10 minutes an Olympian sprinter would have missed the bus. This is where a Plan B is essential when travelling via  public transport. Lostock Gralam is served by the Manchester to Chester rail line, stopping at Knutsford, so the return home was easy. Apart from the near-hour waiting for the train's arrival, another forty-five miniutes for the bus to Chelford and a little over half an hour for the train to Goostrey! The total journey time, including hanging around, was five and a half hours but the haircut was worth it !  

Monday, 16 July 2012

What a difference 12 months can make. A year ago, I said Goostrey's newly-installed vicar, the Rev Ian Godfrey, and his wife, Audrey, defied the rain to host St Luke's garden party on the vicarage lawn, Yes, if you remember, last year was  noted for its rain sodden events, too.  But in a summer fraught for organisers of outside functions, this year has been an even more prayer-like state of  anxiety.  Like some Biblical miracle, however, the rains parted for St Luke's on Sunday ( despite  the occasion also being St Swithin's day and its dire warning of 40 days of rain )  for tea and cake at the vicarage. If it wasn't exactly a barmy summer's day it did at least keep fine.  Much  to the delight of the host and hostess and a brigade of ladies from the church  eager to please with their helpings of home-made treats and goodies. The manicured lawns - a credit to Audrey's work on her new sit-on garden tractor - provided the setting for what was for all a relaxing afternoon of chit-chat over the clink of teacups !

Sunday, 1 July 2012


                                      The Merry Maypole Dancers from Goostrey school

*Click on the pictures to enlarge
Captain Mainwaring we presume
Dad's Army on parade
Well, if someone had said I told you so, it would rain on the Rose Festival, I guess I'd  admit it probably would. It didn't rain. It just downed buckets between heartening shafts of sunlight. But those taking part in this festival of fun in Goostrey are a stoic lot. It takes more than rain to washout a day a year in the making by a dedicated team. If anything the long parade of decorated floats from the west to the east end of the village fared the worst. Just as it was assembled to be off, the heavens opened whipped up by a sea-like breeze to drown the proceedings. But, if wet and soaked from the elements, the parade made it to the school field encouraged on its way by a  throng of loyal spectators.                        
The Scouts smoked us out !
It had to be Budgie
 I joined the Gooseberry Society float again this year with the theme of Dad's Army. It was much admired with its motley uniformed crew of baby boomers (I guess I was the only one able to claim I actually saw Dad's Army in action !)  and the tunes and patriotic melodies of the period blasting the route. Alas, despite all our hopes, it was not the fourth time lucky to win the trophy for the best senior turnout. This went to Goostrey WI, still on a roll from winning silver at the Cheshire Show, with a Jubilee year theme of The Guards and Queen Margaret Kettle complete with cut-out corgi. It was a brilliant well-earned coup for the ladies ! But not without a  little controversy right from an episode of the Archers. Only hours after the event  Facebook was alive with - I can only think tongue in cheek -  cries of foul play from the dispirited Dad's Army. Unable to pick their gooseberries for a barrage, they threw a few verbal raspberries at the ladies success in the contest, albeit judged, so it was claimed, by a WI member ! I'm sure they will reply with a few well aimed pots of jam and a round of Jerusalem !
Queen Margaret greets her subjects
The rest of the day appeared to go well despite several showers. Notable was the village school's maypole dancers.
*Sad to say I missed a picture
of the Rose Queen - if anyone
would care to email a copy.

Friday, 29 June 2012


The village has been on a bit of a knife-edge this week - or possibly should say weather watch - in the run up to Goostrey Rose Festival. My lucky rabbit's foot told me it would be fine and sunny this Saturday. But had a bit of a shock when I checked just moments ago - the forecast has turned to rain! But optimism shines. As I write the sun is beaming through the window, same as yesterday, when it was doom and gloom. I won't utter the words "We are doomed" for the festival as I might be sent down by the judge for giving away one of this year's best kept secrets in the time honoured  parade of decorated floats.
Margaret Kettle, a veteran of the event as former Rose Queen in 1936, tells me there have been more wet days than fine ones. When she was made President in the mid-eighties she got a red umbrella which since then has acted either as parasol or brolly depending on the state of the day. Like many villagers she has turned out over the years as one of the costumed characters, among them Charlie Chaplin, Barbara Cartland  - and of all celebrities and stars, Jordan!  Margaret, now nearing 90, will be involved with Goostrey WI float but like all others what it will represent is a closely guarded secret. "I couldn't possibly tell you what it will be," she says.
Rose Queen Alice Keeling, who will ride in state for her crowning, is from a family with ancestral links to the festival first held in 1905. Her mother and grandmother were queens attendants and great, great aunt Alice Bayley was crowned in 1925. The first traditional act of the soon to be crowned queen is for five minutes of prayer at the cenotaph conducted by the vicar, the Rev Ian Godfrey. Ian's wife, Audrey, says she hopes Alice will be well supported in this act of remembrance outside St Luke's Church. It is often missed by festival crowds making for the main event on the school field. There is a full programme of family fun and events, including maypole dancing by Goostrey Primary School, the Ka Ramba Samba Band and Bruce Airhead's comedy cabaret, a regular at Glastonbury. 
Let's hope  he has left the rain behind him !

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

County Show Picture Blog


I'm afraid I missed the Countess of Wessex - the first Royal to visit the Cheshire Show in a dozen years. But Royal patronage or not, the event at Tabley lived up to its reputation of being among the best of county shows. It is flagged up as the town meeting the country and it certainly didn't disappoint the thousands on the first of the two days. This year remarkably in a near week of incessant rain leaving the showground a tad spongy, the dark clouds rolled away just in the nick of time.
I guess Goostrey was well represented in all the  the animal classes and events, and certainly Goostrey WI members are feeling pretty pleased with themselves with a silver trophy to bring home for their competition entry. Jodrell Side WI was also well represented with a delightful entry in the same competition.
What I find comforting is that farm-based enterprises  offsetting loss of income from traditional farming continues to flourish in Cheshire as well as in other counties. One young man, Henry Cureton, whose family has lived and farmed in Shropshire for 300 years, brought a selection of game products to sell.
Henry's great grandmother made cheese for the Royal family and he is the fourth generation to cook and bake pies in the family kitchen at Ellesmere.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012



   The controversy over plans for a waste plant at Twemlow is to be discussed tonight (Tuesday, June 12 ) by Goostrey Parish Council. The council, which is urging villagers to attend the meeting to voice their concerns, will be considering its stance on the application. The plant at the former Ministry of Defence site between Twemlow and Goostrey will process silage, slurry and food waste on an industrial scale. Opponents of the plan claim that extra traffic and odours from the plant will affect a large part of the surrounding area. Campaigners against the development have an email contact point Objections to the proposal have to be lodged with Cheshire East Council by June 20.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


Margaret Kettle (right) greets a visitor
It was grim weather we all admitted but the village has seen far worse when flags and bunting are unfolded on grand occasions. Goostrey parish council, not to be fazed by the prospect of rain, organised a splendid event for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and I think the members are owed a big thank you, as well as the uniformed organisations who kept us all warm with a steady supply of tea and coffee, burgers and hot dogs!   The Queen was engaged elsewhere but she sent her greetings and Margaret Kettle proved to be a great understudy for Her Majesty. Not to be outdone, Margaret wore a crown and I noted that she also managed a little jig during one of the lively tunes played by Silk Brass Band of Macclesfield. Parish councillors said they were delighted with the support of the village and I guess, the only downside is they had to dig into funds to hire a tent to shelter the band!
*Click on the pictures for a larger image

Everyone had a brolly-good time

The make a crown contest was a Royal success

Margaret Kettle with Adrian Hugh and Joe

And the band played !

Friday, 1 June 2012


I’ve been a little bothered with an irritating eye infection. So writing has been out of the question. But now I feel motivated – given some medication – to resume where I left off a couple of months ago.  Like most would-be bloggers inspiration is the spur. And it has come from an unlikely source – a book about hedges. I know it doesn’t appear a subject to inspire. Like the author Hugh Barker, however, I’ve had a lifelong obsession for hedgerows that straddle the British countryside!  And when Hugh’s book was abridged on BBC4  last week I just had to get a copy for myself.
I was not disappointed. I’ve barely put Hedge Britannia down since it came by courier this week. Its highly readable text has reminded of boyhood when many an hour was spent following the line of hedgerows dividing the fields near where we lived. They were the source of adventure and I guess an all too vivid imagination in wartime Britain of what might lurk or be hidden among their roots. I once found a cache of coins (not ancient sadly) but the few half crowns and shillings were a fortune to a nine-year-old! How they got there I could only guess; possibly the proceeds of a robbery or, more likely, slipped from the pocket of a toiling labourer as he ate his “snap” protected from the heat of the day by the hedge canopy. I’ve no recollection what I did with the hoard. I reckon I must have spent it!
Many years later in Goostrey I made an exciting discovery (well, it was to me) in the hedge of my bottom field. There, firmly gripped between two ancient branches, was a large, old fashioned beer bottle. I can imagine some labourer long since dead would have left it there perhaps a century ago as he cleared the hedge bottom. Having released it with some difficulty from the grip of the hedge, it is now among the collection of broken pottery, bits of old iron, bottles and horseshoes that I’ve rooted up from the land (and now helped by two enthusiastic grandchildren) in search of treasure !
Since last in blog mode, the village has been pleased to see The Crown reopen under new managers – and by all accounts (and a brief visit) five or six types of real ale and a new menu are now on offer. Little has been done in the way of refurbishment, much to the relief of regulars who fear for its character, but word has it that eventually it is likely to become more of a pub grub establishment than at present.
Goostrey is poised to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this week-end with a Big Jubilee Picnic on Sunday at the Pavilion Field, Booth Bed Lane
. It promises to be a jolly village affair with brass band, barbecue, balloon race and presentation of jubilee medals to local children. Let it be a rain free day!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

                                                    PICTURE BLOG
Gerry's funeral at St Luke's Church


                                                    PICTURE BLOG 
Gerry and Cynthia soon after they took over the Crown

Saturday, 17 March 2012


 I can’t imagine anyone in Goostrey who was not stunned and saddened by the sudden death of Gerry Bridgwood. So soon after he and his wife, Cynthia, said their farewells at the Crown, Gerry died of a heart attack. Their sudden decision to call last orders and shut the pub and restaurant left villagers shell-shocked. And to a band of loyal regulars its closure was unthinkable, if not entirely unexpected. Like so many country inns, the Crown has suffered from soaring costs, competition from home drinking fuelled by cheap alcohol sold in supermarkets, plus the recession. It became just too much for the couple to continue. Their final night at the pub was like Christmas and New Year rolled into one. The pumps ran dry, bottles of beer flew off the shelves and by midnight there was barely a drop of wine or even champagne to be had in the house. But few of us in this convivial party atmosphere could have foretold in reality it had been Gerry’s wake. The high regard in which they are held was marked when an impromptu whip-round in the pub produced £1,000 as a parting gift. Then only 48 hours or so later Gerry went downstairs to fetch the paper and suffered the fatal heart attack, said the vicar, the Rev Ian Godfrey, at the funeral service in St Luke’s church – so packed with mourners that upwards of 100 more had to stand outside. The former footballer with Stoke City in the era of the great Stanley Matthews, was already a celebrity (his good looks once earned him the title of the best looking player in the first division) when he and Cynthia took over the pub. His humour and sense of fun behind the bar was legendry. “He was fantastic fun,” said one of his old pals. “If you were going to see Gerry, you knew you were going to have a good time.” Another said: “Gerry was a genuine man who loved a laugh. He could go anywhere and make anybody laugh, whatever the company he was in.” The Crown, as much as the Red Lion a short distance away, has lived in the hearts of the Goostrey community for generations. Many newcomers to the village confess that its very existence was the factor that drew them here in the first place. Youngsters who cut their social teeth at the bar have been known to return from across the world for a pint at this most hospitable of inns as their first port of call. Gerry and Cynthia ran the Crown for 20 years in the finest traditions of an English village pub, and they earned recognition for their work in the licensed trade from CAMRA, the campaign for real ale. When Cheshire became fashionable in the fifties for dining out, the Goostrey pubs were among those to lead the way. Thus the Crown still remained under Cynthia’s stewardship of the kitchen, but in recent years not without I suspect some cost to the couple themselves, Marston’s, the brewers, say it will re-open soon. At least three independent pub-restaurant owners are in the bidding to take over. We can only plea that any changes will not be too drastic as to destroy that special place, the Crown at Goostrey.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012


I guess most will have heard by now of the appalling raid on Margaret Kettle’s store in the village. Her shop is also the Post Office and no doubt this attracted the unwanted attentions of  three mindless morons – as plainly there is really nothing of great value on the premises to steal! But like a previous raid just before Christmas, Margaret was left shaken by this latest episode during the middle of the night. It was fortunate that on this occasion her son, Robert, was on hand and managed to tackle the intruders sans most of his clothes and sent them fleeing. He was left with a very blooded and swollen eye but we can only speculate the outcome if he had not been present. Apparently two torches were stolen as well as Margaret’s handbag from her bedside and it can be hoped that police forensics will lead to their capture. The bag has been recovered in Liverpool.
Given age her age of 89 and slight build, Margaret must have been very alarmed by the experience but some hours later as police sealed off the premises in search of clues, she gave no hint of being traumatised as a result. She appeared outside her shop to assure well-wishers that she was unscathed but Robert had suffered injury.
It was probably the same trio who carried out the previous robbery on what is a Goostrey institution, known far and wide as an “Aladdin’s” cave for the range of items, mostly of low value that Margaret sells, more as a service to the community than for profit. Those of a certain age in the village will remember when Margaret and her late husband, George, ran Goostrey’s postal services. Not only did they manage the sub-post office but they sorted the mail behind the shop in Main Road and employed the posties! It was a real rural service and I doubt if a letter was ever incorrectly delivered. I was always aware when George delivered the post – the smell of the smoke from his ever present cigarette wafted up the stairs through the letter box! In recent times it was Margaret who came to the rescue of the post office. When it was threatened with closure she volunteered a corner of her shop for its relocation as a branch of Plumley village post office. Let us hope this latest incident will not end the association.
I’ve ranted in the past about the condition of the village’s roads. After yet another protest about Church Bank and Blackden Lane, I see a patch team from the council’s highways department made a fleeting visit the other day to fill in a few holes. I have it on good authority that unless potholes are more than four inches deep their repair is not regarded as urgent. And who said that size doesn’t matter! A member of the gang confided that it was a waste of time and some of the village’s roads needed resurfacing but there was no money in the kitty. He said it was up to residents to keep banging on about it. Something that I intend  to do in view of the continued shaking and rattling of the house from vehicles hitting potholes in the lane. As I told the council man I lived through the Manchester blitz and it was never as bad as this “bombardment” from the road.
It was another sad occasion almost a week ago when, with others from the area, I attended a service of thanksgiving for the life of Ken Albutt in the Cotswold village of Painswick. Ken and his wife, Jane, moved some five years ago from Cranage to Edge near Painswick, to be close to their children. The packed St Mary’s church was a reflection of the high regard and the love and affection in which Ken was held by his many friends