What the locals really think of Crewe and Sandbach
- Credit: Archant
History and heritage are everywhere in Crewe and Sandbach, but these ancient towns are also embracing the new
A distance of only six miles separates the Cheshire towns of Crewe and Sandbach and, although each has its own distinct character, one thing they do share is plenty of positive things to shout about. For 85-year-old Dennis Robinson, that’s something he takes very literally.
That’s because Dennis is the official Sandbach Town Crier, although when he took on the responsibility, he did stress that it would only be for 12 months: this year he celebrates 25 years in the position and is a past winner of the National Town Crying Championships.
‘Time has flown by and as long as my voice stays strong, I’ll continue,’ says Dennis who likes to keep the townsfolk guessing as to whether he will appear in his red or green robes.
Dennis might soon find himself announcing Lisa Archer’s success. Lisa, 34, who owns LA Hairvolution, a salon which specialises in hair extensions, has won through to the final of Outstanding Salon of the Year and has already won, for the second year running, Best Image of the Year which is a national prize awarded for an image which shows a salon’s best work.
‘I’m very proud. Extensions are popular with ladies of all ages and, these days they look completely natural - I wouldn’t be without mine. I do occasionally have calls from people in Los Angeles asking if they can pop in and although my clients come from as far away as Scotland, I was surprised that my reputation had spread as far as America! The explanation was simple: they think the LA in the salon title means that I’m based in Los Angeles, when actually they’re my initials,’ laughs Lisa.
There can be no mistaking where florist Helen Williams has her business: Flowers on the Cobbles proclaims that it’s situated in the picturesque part of town.
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‘It is a delightful spot,’ says Helen, who has spent several years working in customer services and lecturing in floristry before finding her way to The Cobbles.
Helen’s shop is dominated by a wall of colourful sweet smelling blooms and she’s always on hand to advise, whether someone wants just a single rose or a massive bouquet.
‘We have a wedding room, where brides can plan their flowers. Occasionally, they and their mums bring along their outfits, so that the blooms match perfectly. It’s all top secret! Cheshire brides are currently liking hand tied natural posies in shades of blush pink but we are seeing a Meghan effect trickle through,’ explains Helen.
Artist Christian Turner uses his whole colour palette to depict the area as well as exciting pictures of marine life. 25-year-old Christian’s work has caused a stir at exhibitions and he is also asked to paint private commissions from his town centre studio at Cheshire Arts for Health, where he is now Artist in Residence.
‘At the age of three, I was diagnosed with autism and it quickly became obvious that creativity was going to play a huge part in my life. It has and I couldn’t be more pleased,’ says Christian.
Just down the road, the people of Crewe are pretty proud of their town too. Peter Ollerhead who runs Copnal Books with his daughter, Ruth, has even written several books about the history of the town and his expertise draws people to the shop that has been here since 1984.
Ruth said: ‘Nowadays, we sell some books online but anyone who is interested in the area’s history makes their way here to talk to dad and to browse: there’s always the chance to find a hidden gem in a stock of over 15,000 books,’ smiles Ruth who also specialises in children’s literature and still gets a thrill from working in the book trade.
Crewe is also home to Community Recycle Cycles, a “not for profit” scheme which repairs donated bikes and sells them on at affordable prices. But what makes the scheme extra special is that it trains young people in the art of all things bicycle.
‘We support our local community by training people, providing refurbished bikes at reasonable cost and by running a bike repair service. We have had masses of support and we’re always here with the kettle on for anyone who wants to pop in and chat about anything bike related: we’re a friendly bunch and yes, we share information about how to avoid those dreaded potholes,’ explains director Annette Cormack.
Nigel Downes is a project construction manager by day but by night he is a salsa and tango dancer.
‘In 2003, I began Bespoke Dance Shoes, importing from Europe, as well as commissioning handmade shoes. Different dances need different shoes: it’s not one size fits all! They are not inexpensive but for style and practicality, they’re going down a storm. The spotlight might not be on me as a champion dancer but this is the next best thing, ‘says Nigel.
There’s plenty to shout and dance about in Crewe and Sandbach.