Happy memories of Dale’s chippy
Dear Sir, — Just past Festival Hill there is a driveway leading up to the houses that are set back off Bromley Road. You may not have noticed, but at the beginning of that driveway there is a set of iron gates that have been closed for many years.
Mr Dale and his wife May lived in one of the nice houses just close to the gates. They kept the chip shop next to St Stephens School on the corner of Spragg Street and Hatter Street.
What a very nice chippy that was: spotlessly clean and they were always very friendly. I used to pop in on my way to Congleton Swimming Baths, with my car tyre inner tube over my shoulder, swimming trunks wrapped up in a towel, and carrying a bundle of newspapers, including the Congleton Chronicle. Newspapers were used to wrap the fish and chips up. Mrs Dale would always give me an ice-lolly for the newspapers. (There was the start of my trading career.)
On a Saturday morning Congleton was a hive of activity. Mills had been open for the overtime workers, the market was thriving, hairdressers were busy with appointments with women having a blue rinse to look nice for Saturday night out at the pub or club for a game of bingo. Bostocks buses were warming up to take football fans to Stoke or Manchester to watch a game.
Those iron gates on Bromley Road were the entrance to the lane that led up to Bromley Farm. The lane went straight up, as did Festival Hill and Edinburgh Road. It took a turn to the left beside the farmhouse flower and vegetable gardens, which also had a swimming pool. The pool had blue ceramic tiles halfway up and the remainder of the tiles were white. It was about six feet deep, with a metal handrail just above the water level.
It was an idyllic setting, just outside the town of Congleton, in the countryside.
The farmhouse was huge; it was situated where Bradwell Court is now, almost to Woolston Avenue, but not quite that far.
To enter the farmyard there was a huge, arched entranceway that had buildings to either side when you entered the yard. I would not be surprised if there was living accommodation for farm workers and maids who worked on the farm.
The land stretched the whole area of what is now called Bromley Farm Estate, from Festival Hill to CWS Dairy on Park Lane, which was located next to the railway station, and then all the land down to the brook that flowed under the Ten Arches railway line. It then skirted the coal mineral line and almost to the Tin Bridge, continuing on all the way down Bromley Road to Festival Hill.
When the council housing estate was being built in the early 50s, the borough council used the farm buildings as a works depot to service and do minor structural repairs. People didn’t complain much in those days. Bromley Farm was a wonderful place to live after living in the older parts of Congleton that were way past their sell-by date.
It was great every Saturday to take a ceramic bowl to Dales Chippy and get pudding, chips and peas with a bowl full of gravy and maybe sometimes an ice-lolly depending if I had some newspapers. — Yours faithfully,