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A Virtual Stroll Around the Walls of Chester

A collection of reader's letters

Page Two- but the latest letters are here

25/7/98 Thank you for all your effort in creating a virtual tour of Chester.
It's a lovely town (regardless of what some malcontent on the Chester BBS wrote) I really like the pictures, historic and present-day, as well as the writing, particularly the 'curiousities' and side stories. I also like your reportng on the developments in the works (seems like city planners lack good judgement everywhere). I feel as if I live in the town.
My ancestors were Cestrians around 1200, so it's nice to get a lay of the land, so to speak. I'll certainly visit someday .
Good-bye for now, I've book-marked your page for many future trips.
Craig Jackson, Wixom (Detroit area), MI, USA

24/8/98 Dear Steve, This is just to say how much I am enjoying your excellent website. It is really good to see the shortcomings of our City Council being exposed in this way. Perhaps this site will provide a way of embarassing them at long last into taking some notice of the views of the people who elected them to office. Best wishes,
Tony Gittens, Mouldsworth

26/8/98 Dear Steve and all, Just found you on the guide to knowhere, loved your site in fact so much that I cannot view it all tonight as the rest of my family are waiting in line to use the computer. Really enjoyed all the pictures and agree with you entirely regarding the town hall.
I grew up in Chester, my Mother still lives in Hoole and my brothers in Blacon, Ellesmere Port and Preston. I never realized until I left what I was missing. I have been home twice and loved it although I do think it has been spoilt by all the traffic and awful modern buildings, and of course McDonalds. We have lived in America for 20 years and are coming home in 3 but we are thinking maybe we will locate somewhere else as the traffic is so terrible.
I was wondering whether you have a booklet with all the information in it that you have on the net, it will take me forever to download it all, I have begun but get mixed up as to where to start next. We also lived on Whipcord Lane and I use to walk the walls everyday to get to work. Never thought twice about it all, just took it for granted.
Thank you again for a lovely site. I shall return...

3/9/98 Sorry it took me so long to reply been working in the garden. The address I found you at was (???) then I just clicked on Virtual Mold and there you were.
I am still having a wonderful time going through your site. So much of interest. I did go to another Chester Site but that was awful the screen is black and lettering red, very hard to read and not very interesting.
I have given you site address to other friends on line I hope they visit. This is a good way of deciding where you want to live, or it gives you general ideas. Quite a few of the people I know have been home but did not like the changes and returned to America and Canada. I hope that does not happen to us. Maybe they have been away too long.
Well thats all for now hope that gets you to the site, I hope I got the address correct. Let me know if you cannot get to it...

4/3/98 Hello Again, Just had to write you, I was so distressed at the type of planning that is going on in Chester, what I meant to say it no planning. I could not believe the ugly Flag Poles, or the fact that they allowed a MacDonalds to be built. Apart from anything else when we are trying to get everyone to eat more healthy they are promoting the utter rubbish that is sold at those places. I think someone needs to do a survey on the amount of fat included in those meals. They did that here.
The new road is another thing that really upset me, no matter how many roads you build it will not be enough, they should be looking for ways cut down on the amount of traffic, and utilize what we already have in a more appropriate way. They are not thinking of future generations. I think they will look back on these years as the most obscene and distructful of all. I also think that if the Duke of Westminster is so worried maybe he should have these office blocks built on his land, and leave the green belt alone. You only have to come to America and see the terrible mistakes made from bad planning.
I cannot understand how a council can get away with things the way Chester is doing. So many terrible ugly buildings. The very thing that visitors come to see will no longer be able to be seen because of what surrounds it. I already here from people who throroughly dislike all the traffic and congestion that come with all these new roads.
This is not progress it is the ruin of a beautiful old city. Your site truly opened my eyes I was so upset by what is being done, but heartened by the good people who are fighting against great odds for something much nobler than the money. I pray that they are successful and that the people of Chester wake up and see what is going on under their noses.
Thankyou for the information I shall return to see updates and hopefully some good news.
Best Wishes,
Avril (Fremont, New Hampshire)

30/8/98 Hello. I left Chester 42 years ago and miss her so. I was stationed at Sealand RAF Station 1954 - 56. I do intend to get back to see the changes- pictures from friends just don't do the job. Now that I'm retired I'll try to get back. Great tour!
What ever happend to the Monks Retreat Bar? My friends said they couldn't find it.
Dan Harrison, Palmdale California.

We think you should definitely come back for a visit Dan! As for the Monk's Retreat, it once formed part of the old Bars Hotel on Foregate Street. They couldn't find it because it was demolished and replaced by an apartment block. It and many, many more, are remembered on our Vanished Pubs of Chester pages.

1/10/98 Hi there, I have just been exploring internet and came across your Chester tour site, well what an absolute delight.
I grew up in Ellesmere Port and worked in Chester. We moved to South Africa 15 years ago and now that I have a family of my own I can show them where we come from, we do plan on a visit sometime next year, we have recently moved to South Australia.
As a schoolgirl we went on many a trip around Chester walls. I cannot tell you how delighted I was to find this site, once again many thanks.
Yours Faithfully
Tracey Bache nee Ainsworth, Adelaide South Australia

6/10/98 hey folks hows it going? one of the most complete web sites i've been to. write me back if you have time love to here from my british brethren. i've spent time in derbyshire and loved it. i'd like to visit again.
i found your site while researching info about ancient british military history for a role playing game that i and about 6 buddies play.
i spent time in london and derbyshire in the late 70s my father was an educator with a new curiculim that he was promoting and i went along for the ride. as i'm british by genes american by birth i always wanted to go to the U.K. i had traced my roots and found my coat of arms and wanted to walk where my great grand pappy did. he was from notingham? or some where's there abouts. any way i fell in love with the brits, and would live there if i could even if it was only a short time. too bad you need a working visa to work in the U.K. meaning you have to have the job before you go. i'm a master carpenter and if you have any connections for work that would be great. if not write me any way.
i grew up in So. Cal. about 2 hrs. No. of San. Di. so i know your daughter love's the weather bye the way you and my favorite guitarist have the same name. YES hint hint
bye for now your friend and mine Michael
Michael Howarth, Ct. U.S.A.

8/10/98 i love your page,,, i would love to visit a place like chester!! maybe someday i will :-)
i am wondering about the Bridge of Sighs. when i was in school we learned of this bridge, but it wasn't in Chester, i'm think it was in Venice? is this something common in europe or am i mistaken about the other bridge?
I appreciate your time in answering me :-)
again, i really love your page!! i have it bookmarked so i can go back to look some more!

Hello Tena. Yes, Venice has probably the most famous 'Bridge of Sighs' but there's one in Cambridge England too- not to mention ours!

20/10/53 Dear Steve, Just spent some more time at your site. Really love it.
Have a question for you. Do you have any pictures or history of Clements Walk? I remember it when I was younger. It was a very pleasant cut through to the main streets of Chester from were my grandmother lived on Charlotte Street.
Keep up the good work. Best Wishes.
Avril (Fremont, New Hampshire)

Mmm. We know Charlotte Street is off South View Road- an area currently being redeveloped out of all recognition- but are not familiar with Clements Walk. Anybody remember this street? Let us know- and email Avril direct!

1/11/98 I have just stumbled across your wonderful site on Chester and have immediately added it to my favourites as I know that I am going to spend many happy hours reading it.
Even though I have only visited Chester about six times in my life my mother was born there, in Shipgate Street, and my grandfather, who left Chester to settle in South Africa, was a freeman of the City. He was a carpenter on one of the restorations of St Mary On the Hill, just round the corner from Shipgate Street.
My last visit it Chester was two years ago for a day trip to show my wife and daughter where my mother had spent her youth. The walk round the Walls is still as memorable as ever.
The work involved in putting this web site together is well appreciated and I am sure brings pleasures to all who find it. Congratulations
Michael J Smith (I am a Smith both from my father's side (no connection with Chester) and my mothers side, who was nee Smith as well),
Michael, Ana and Victoria Smith.

3/11/98 Dear Steve, What a brilliant web site for an old scouser like me to find! I moved away 14 years ago but still come back occasionally and to see my Nan in Chester.
Just thought I'd let you know how I appreciated your site.
Helen Gallacher

6/11/98 Dear Steve, Just to say how much I appreciated the site. If it annoys the likes of Clough-Parker it must be doing a good job! Keep up the good work.
Chris Scanlan, Chester

9/11/98 Thank you for a great site- wish it had been available on any of my past visits- business and visiting- I know it is and will be of tremendous value to visitors interested in our history.
J. D. Rogers

14/11/98 Hi, My name is John McGahey. I recently visited the (your) exceptional web site about Chester. One of the photo credits caught my eye, namely the View of Chester from a Balloon 1855, by John McGahey. I wonder if you have any information about the artist. It's not hard to guess why I'm asking. I would appreciate any information you might have or any suggestions about where to look.
BTW: I'm in San Diego, CA, USA. I'm looking forward to reading through Chester's history. I've currently reading Durant's "The Story of Civilization" Volume IV which covers the formation of Europe after the demise of the Western Roman Empire and last year read McCullough's fictional but historically based novels about Julius Caesar. The early section of one of the novels has the hero in what we call England. An interesting timeframe. The comment about Caesar and the Romans demonizing the conquered people is well taken.
Thanks in advance.
John McGahey

21/12/98 I handcolor B&W (and some color) pictures as a hobby and was browsing for inspiration when I found your website. Fasacinating pictures, especially about Chester. My wife and I toured the British Isles 16 years ago and by some miracle managed to spent a few hours in Chester. (Miraculous because we seemed to whiz past cathedrals, historic towns and castles only to be dumped for hours in tourist traps and urged to buy overpriced jimcracks.) We had enough time in Chester to walk a stretch of the walls and the main streets. When we left, both of us decided this was one towm we would definitely return to. The years have dimmed our memories somewhat but your photos have rekindled our desire to make a second trip. Thanks again
Bruce Janis

7/1/99 Congratulations, what a wonderful site you have built. I'm a Cheshire boy living in Australia with an interest in social history, particularly the development and culture of canals. Do you have any info on canals in or about Chester and their history? Any info would be a good starting point. Thanks
David Rimell

22/1/99 Having moved to Saughall in May of 1998 my family have taken great interest in learning about the current and historical Chester- your site has been a catalyst for this enjoyment. Quite simply it is the best of it's type I have seen-well done!!
In respect of the proposed busway, which would obviously have an effect on ourselves in Saughall, is there anyway of obtaining a general overview of the scheme, its history and pros/cons etc? I welcome any reply.
David Slater (

12/2/99 hi steve, have just encountered the Chester walls web-site, it is a fascinating and impressive piece of research, thanks.
i have just embarked on a casual investigation into the kings buildings in king street, chester. i am therefore interested in any photographs/prints/info etc that you may have in your archives are you able to help me here at all? any advice and direction would be gratefully received, many thanks
Andy Walder (

There's some stuff about King Street here. As ever, if readers can help, contact Andy direct

1/3/99 Greetings from Texas Steve, Found your site to be the most informative on Chester. Great site! You are added to my favorites... Regards,
Steve Griffith

1/3/99 I've just discovered your web pages and spent far longer than I should have done reading them - excellent stuff... Thanks for the web site, it's fascinating. Cheers,
Chris Hughes

5/3/99 Hi, Just been reading your web pages again- thought I'd drop you a note to say that they're as excellent as ever... as an ex Mill View pupil, I found the info about their project on the Mickle Trafford line very interesting.
Keep up the good pages,
Chris Stevens

16/3/99 Steve, What a treat! I was looking for some kind of accomodation information in Manchester as I'm looking to rent a room here and what I came up with was you. Either you've done some intelligent domain-name buying or I'm a misguided fool that happened to stumble across something interesting.
I'm actually from Chester, but I am living in Manchester. Do you know of any interesting sites like your own around Manchester?
I had to laugh when I found yours as I do know tha place, and you quite perfectly describe the snobbery and materialism which makes Chester unique! Thanks.
Name withheld by request

17/3/99 Love your site. I think it is fascinating and beautifully put together. I work in Chester and have spent many a happy time walking round the walls. I've learnt a lot from your site... which I came across through the Multimedia CD Rom version of Encyclopedia Britannica which has an online facility via IE4 with links to a range of sites from different articles.
I can't think of anything else at the moment that you can add. Its stuffed full of goodies! One or two people in college have mentioned to me how good your site is. We run a course in English for Foreign Students and they would find this site very interesting.
Jon Payne, Buckley

16/5/99 I took your tour of Chester and read the Nooks and Corners section also.
Fantastic website! So much information. Perhaps I'll come visit you someday and we can go have a pint at the Albion Inn...
Dear oh dear, the problems with urban sprawl and overdevelopment is shared. Southern California and local government politicos are just like your there, approving development projects on every bit of open space that is remaining. Virtually all our canyons, along the San Gabriel Mountains, have dams or concrete debris basins and the developers are moving further into the canyons. Our wildlife just can't take anymore, we have so many endangered species. A new toll road has killed 12 deer, 12 coyotes, 5 bobcat and a mountain lion. Keep up your good fight and I'll keep fighting for the wild earth here in California!
Leeona Klippstein, Conservation Programs Director, Spirit of the Sage Council, Pasadena, California

7/6/99 I have just taken and very much enjoyed your tour of Chester. It was fascinating.
I am currently setting up a webring linking together sites offering Virtual Tours, and I would be most pleased if you were to join that ring. If you are interested, please go to: (or e-mail me).
At any rate, congratulations on a wonderful site.
With thanks,
Christopher Gribbin

5/7/99 Hi Steve, First of all I must say how enthralled I was to come across your magnificent Black & White Picture Place and the Chester Virtual Stroll sites. I grew up in Liverpool and live in North Wales, Chester is now my nearest City. So you can imagine what a pleasure it was for me to visit your pages...
Finally, a quick plug for my (very humble) Black & White photos page:
Les St Clair

6/10/99 A great site, beatifully designed and full of interest. Done on Macintosh as well- couldn't be better.
Many thanks. Regards
Anthony Clarke

13/10/99 Hello Steve, I live in sunny Loughborough, Leicestershire. I am currently researching material for my second novel about the Anglo-Saxon period, and I needed to get some info about St Werburgh- there are churches to her in Burton-on-Trent and Derby, for instance- and I searched for Chester, knowing that she had founded St John's there (allegedly).
Your site gave me some useful stuff, and I just enjoyed doing Chester anyway through your text and visuals.
It is usually quite annoying to see town histories leap from Romans to Normans without mentioning the 600 years or so of the A-S achievement, so once again your site scored.
Final, totally unbiased point: I am a Mac fan and have been ever since using my first MacPlus, so it was a pleasure to see the logo.
All the best,
Anthony Clarke

Readers with info about Werburgh should contact Anthony direct

25/10/99 Many thanks for a splendid site. I wanted to send information on Liverpool and Chester to a friend in USA. I have simply cut and pasted your site address. Need I say more?
John Berry

24/11/99 Have just spent a happy half hour browsing your site. Congratulations! One of the best web sites I have ever seen (without any flannel!)
David Jones, Llandudno

26/11/99 Great site!!! My grandfather, Banfield Capron left Chester in the 1660's for America, so the story goes due to poor economic conditions. He left Chester at age 14yrs with another lad of aprox equal age and settled in New England in the Massachusetts Bay colony. This site has given me the opportunity to "visit" Chester and find out more about it's history. Have you any knowledge of Caprons in Chester???
I'll be back!!!
Bob Capron

There's none in the Chester phone book... Anyone who can help Bob should email him:

4/12/99 Brilliant pages, and I most certainly agree with everything you have to say about the old market and McDonalds and those disgusting flag poles! Pedestrianisation is the pits in Chester, it has to be all or nothing and it is still all. In other cities where it is pedestrianisied it means pedestrianisied, but here if you want to go to the Grosvenor Hotel you are allowed through or anywhere else for that matter. It should be completely shut off at 10 a.m - 6p.m for anyone. The parking prices also is terrible no wonder people go to Ellesmere Port/Cheshire Oaks. The so called Greyhound Park is awful no toilets, no bank, no decent coffee bar and you take your life in your hands crossing the roads.
Feel better now- goodnight. Thanks for your time
Heather, Chester

8/12/99 Having spent my childhood in Leeswood, near Mold, in the late sixties-early seventies, and spent most of the "spare" Saturday's being dragged around the shops of Chester, I must congratulate you on a most entertaining web site, I've just spent the last two hours going through, and could spend another day or so...
Since moving to Western Australia in 1989, I haven't really kept up with local news from back home, but as I now run my business from home, I am sure I will keep on going back to your site. Keep up the good work
Best Regards
Carl Roberts

16/12/99 Saw your site and was fascinated by the studies done at the old Rainhill hospital. The faraway look and also the pathos of abandonment of such people forgotten by society is heartrending. The demise of the hospital was no bad thing!
Thanks for such poignant memories. My husband is specialising in mental health presently for his degree and these picture naturally interested him.
Best Regards, Keep capturing little pieces of history.

You may be interested to see a new website devoted to the history and remisciences of Rainhill: Between the Towers.

9/1/2000 Dear Steve Howe, I've been enjoying your virtual tour of the walls of Chester. I visited there for two months in 1993 while doing research for my dissertation. I'm particularly interested in 16th and 17th century history, and I'm wondering what source or sources you used to compile your "curiousities" of Chester history. Is there a chronicle available in print for those of us trying to conduct research on the wrong side of the Atlantic? Thanks for any help you can provide. Your beautiful photographs are whetting my appetite for a return visit. Thanks for putting together a fabulous web site.
Laura Deal, Colorado USA

11/1/00 Dear Steve Howe, I have just been browsing through your absolutely delightful web site! Yesterday when I was searching for Hoole, I did not find it, but today I have used the search engine Excellent work!!
The reason I was looking for Hoole is that I have just become aware of a picture of a large stone monument erected in memory of George Goodfellow and Henry Berry who fell through the ice and drowned at Hoole in January, 1905. I am looking for more information about where this might have occurred, and, of course, where the monument might be found!
Anyway....I shall return to your wonderful web site with delight!!
Good Work!
Jacqueline Forrestal New York, USA

Well, having never heard of this, I'm as intrigued as Jacqueline! If readers have any clue about this monument, I'd love to know- and will, of course, pass on to her anything I learn

17/1/00 I was very pleased to discover a website in support of conserving what little is left of Chester's heritage. At the turn of the century Chester was a wonderful city. Since then it has been ruthlessly destroyed by greed, bad planning, bad architecture and apathy. Look at York; a city to be proud of. In Chester we continue to demolish and replace with buildings that Eastern Europe would be ashamed of. Quicks in lower Bridge Street., the foul pastiche of Tudor opposite the Falcon, replacing a fine brick facade., the plethora of roadsigns, yellow lines, traffic lights, multistorey buildings out of scale with the old city, a dual carriageway slicing through the heart of the city. What have those who have the power to prevent the deterioration ever done? Grosvenor Estates, the planners, the developers- nothing! Money is all that matters it seems. Organising to defeat these forces is the duty of every Chester resident.
Angus Murray

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