Things you only know if you grew up in Crewe
Crewe is a town rich in heritage and industry, and as one of the largest towns in Cheshire, it has a population of around 75,000.
But what makes Crewe unique and what would you only know if you grew up there?
Clair Chapman, originally from Crewe, takes us to the past.
Some of these memories and rites of passage are well known, but some will jog your memory.
There are words and phrases we still use today, thanks to the influx of people and dialects in Crewe from all over Britain and beyond, who came to work on the railways. The one we are most proud of is “bletch” which describes dirty oil from bicycle engines or chains. There are many more, including croggy (to give someone a lift on the crossbar of your bike), gansey (a knitted sweater or cardigan) and backses (the alleys that pass behind houses. and between streets).
Everyone who lived through Crewe’s old carnivals on the bank holiday Saturdays in August will remember this. Troop dancers with rattling medals and slapped red legs, grabbing tea bags from the Co-Op 99 tea factory float, pink ward queens and more. The procession seemed to go on for hours, then to Queens Park at night for the fairground. We still have a lot of community events in Queens Park now, but nothing compares to the old Crewe Carnival.
The air raid siren
Every Friday noon the Crewe Works air raid siren sounded as a “test”, to keep it running. You could hear it all over town and if you were young it meant the start of the weekend. I often wonder what that meant for those who lived through WWII, and if it brought up any unpleasant memories week after week.
Something else you could hear all over town was on racing days at Crewe Stadium. The site where the Grand Junction Retail Park is now located was the site of one of the most exciting things we’ve ever had. Bangers, Ministocks, Speedway and more. The roar of the engines, the Tannoy announcements, the smell of gasoline, rubber and methanol, and the taste of fumes and track grain. If you look around the shopping park now, it’s hard to believe it ever existed.
Teacakes and chuckin ‘out time
If you ask the real Crewe-ites about their now-lost favorite things, you’ll likely end up with a list of long-gone pubs and clubs. The Bessemer, the Blue Cap Dog, the Chetwode and more recently the Ash Bank and the Cross Keys to name a few. You will also hear about other distinctly Crewe phenomena as well; the thousands of bikes cruising the West End at Crewe Works and Rolls Royce ‘chuckin’ out time ‘, the illuminated map in the town square, the fairground organ outside the co-op you could hear while eating your tea Saturday in the Tartan Room café. Le Fruitique and Let’s Go on West Street where you can buy anything you could possibly need, and Tilley on Nantwich Road for fishing gear and crafts.
A rich sporting heritage
Of course, we all know Crewe Alexandra and the great players who have crossed the team over the years such as Seth Johnson, Danny Murphy, Rodney Jack and Clayton Ince. Few people outside of Crewe know this is where world-class pool player Lyndsey Roberts, rugby player Mark Cueto MBE, and Olympians Shanaze Reade and Bryony Page live. We also have an American football team called Crewe Railroaders, and a Roller Derby team called Railtown Loco Rollers!
The regeneration of Crewe
Crewe has always been a progressive city, at the forefront of industry, technology, health and social services. Sadly, progress means letting go of old things and making way for new ones, and more recently this has been evident in the loss of the Big Bill Clock and the West Street Wall. But somehow, Crewe still manages to embrace every change and create new memories to share with the next generation of Crewe-ites.
Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments.
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