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 !