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Sandbach, a Cheshire market town

Updated on January 2, 2017

Many things about Sandbach

The market town of Sandbach next to Junction 17 of the M6. It may not be the centre of the universe, but it hosts the HQ of the East Cheshire Unitary Authority.

How has Sandbach developed over the years, has it matched the plans proposed, did they predict the sucess of the annual Transport Festival?

And a pictorial look at the work on the historic cobbled square, and the damage to St Peters Church Hall - the old Elworth School building, since rebuilt as a church community centre.


Sandbach is surrounded by the communities of Elworth, Ettiley Heath, Sandbach Heath and Wheelock. Set amongst the green dairy farmland, producing milk and the famous Cheshire Cheese. The main railway line between Crewe and Manchester runs through the West of the town, with the M6 and Junction 17 plus the Motorway Services to the East.

In 1915 T.A. Coward in "Cheshire" published by Cambridge University Press described Sandbach as "at once an ancient and a busy manufacturing town, is in the salt country. Its trade is in salt, chemicals, fustians and boots. It has an old church and many picturesque buildings, but the oldest and most interesting relics in Sandbach are its Saxon crosses. Wheelock, a busy salt village, is close to Sandbach."

Sandbach Cobbled Square - Where have all the cobbles gone?

Work has now begun on the cobbled square in the centre of Sandbach next to the ancient crosses. An area of cobbles appears to have been removed and a trench dug into the typical Sandbach sand. Where have the cobbles gone to?

Sandbach Cobbles February 2009

Sanbach Market Square - The finished cobbles July 2009

The future of Sandbach defined in 1946 proposals.

In 1946 W Dobson Chapman published County Palatine a survey and plan for Cheshire.

Sandbach is a compact old town situated about five miles from Middlewich at the junction of roads leading to the Potteries and from Crewe to Congleton. In it there are a number of picturesque old buildings and also Saxon crosses. Elworth and Wheelock, situated about a mile from the old town on the Middlewich and Crewe roads respectively, are industrial villages within the urban district. They were once separate entities, but modern ribbon building has linked them with the town centre.

It is a busy area having for its chief industries diesel lorry building at Elworth and Sandbach, brine pumping and salt manufacture at Ettiley Heath, and the manufacture of textiles. Provision has been allowed for the enlargement of the well-established lorry and salt works, whilst an area along the railway, south-west of the town between Elworth and Wheelock, has been earmarked for future development as a light industrial estate, in order to reduce dependency on these two predominating industries.

The districts total population of about 8,500 is slowly growing and the area is well suited in every way for a more rapid development. In the event of its selection as a reception area for people displaced by redevelopment of large towns, accommodation for 10,000 is proposed by a consolidation of the existing sporadic development to weld it into a compact area, capable of easy division into neighbourhood units. Indeed when this zone has been properly applied with appropriate open space wedges, there is a balance of land sufficient to accommodate a limited further growth.

Open space provision has been made along the banks of the River Wheelock's tributary from Wheelock to Offley Wood. Another recommended open belt at Wheelock, and running northwards to cross Middlewich Road, will link up with the existing playing fields and simplify division of the urban zone into neighbourhood units when detailed plans are ultimately prepared. Care has also been taken to secure open space buffers between the industrial and urban zones wherever practicable.

So in the 60 years since publication how much has come true?

The 2001 census gives Sandbach a population of 17,630, so we have grown by 10,000 but not from being an overspill centre - primarily speculative housing developments for commuters to the surrounding industrial and commercial centres - travel to work distances will have multiplied. Our status as a commuter dormitory town was confirmed by the very welcome arrival of Waitrose.

The predominant industries of 1946 have all gone with the diesel lorry building at Fodens and ERF finished in the town, I think the nearest brine pumping is in Warmingham and Middlewich. The industrial area was built next to the railway line in Elworth/Ettiley Heath - but some of this is too close to recent residential housing.

The open space along the tributary to the River Wheelock is now part of the Wildlife Corridor - complete with the Wheelock Bypass running though its length. The other open space provision from Wheelock via Abbey Fields through the Sandbach Golf Club is just about holding out - press reports in 2010 and 2011 suggest that developers are once again trying to build on the Abbey Fields green lung for Sandbach.

And Dobson Chapman are still in business as Architects, Surveyors and Planning Consultants operating from Macclesfield and Crewe.

Fire at St Peters Church Hall Elworth

type=text Elworth Fire
type=text Elworth Fire

Damage to the old Elwoth School building caued by the fire on 2nd February 2010. The building was used by many local community groups.

Fire damage at old Elworth School

type=text Elworth Fire
type=text Elworth Fire

The roof of the main school room is very badly damaged. The nearby church of St Peter's is undergoing repairs but appears to have escaped damage from the fire.

The building has now been replaced by a modern church community hall.

Rebuilding Elworth Church Hall 2011

Elworth Church Hall
Elworth Church Hall

Your thoughts please on Sandbach

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    Chrismorton 8 years ago

    Sandbach festival 2009 photo show on Flickr is beautiful. The Transport vehicles displayed in the show, took me to their period. Your application of illustrations are appreciative. Keep up the good work!