When the first issue of Archant Life’s Cheshire Life magazine rolled off the presses, King George V was on the throne, our own Queen was but an eight-year-old Princess Elizabeth, and Ramsay MacDonald was the Prime Minister. Editor Louise Allen-Taylor reports.
It was May 1934 and Cheshire Life was a slim, 34-page black and white volume with only words on the cover, and not very many photographs inside. It cost sixpence (6d). Under the Cheshire Life masthead was a strapline, explaining its origins: ‘The official journal of the Cheshire Publicity and Industrial Development Council’. Beneath that, it declared: ‘Devoted to the interests and activities of the county of Cheshire’.
Inside were features about local historical stone monuments, salt production, farming, railway engines at Crewe works, motoring and expansion at Stanlow Oil Docks. There were only a few adverts. One offers for sale in Middlewich, ‘A charming detached residence, beautifully situated in lovely grounds of four acres’. The asking price? £2,000.
Today, the 80-year-old Cheshire Life looks rather different: a hefty full-colour tome packed with photography, editorial and adverts. But despite changes of style, size and ownership over the years, the magazine’s content and mission have stayed true to that original statement.
So, in the company of the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mrs Susan Sellers, business contacts and good friends from all walks of Cheshire life, we staged a Vintage Garden Party celebration at Mottram Hall hotel, near Prestbury on July 17. And what a delight it was.
The sun shone fiercely as guests arrived and were greeted by smiling waiters offering sparkling Prosecco in vintage champagne saucers. Jolly music floated across the lawns as the crowd - resplendent in summer fashions - gathered and chatted by the side of a marquee. Sleight of hand card tricks performed by a roaming magician were a talking point during the drinks reception.
After a brief welcome from Matt Townley, Mottram Hall’s Resident Manager, and myself, we stepped inside the marquee and the interior drew gasps of admiration. It was decorated in charming vintage style, featuring faded flowers, traditional English china crockery, gilded bird cages and a dark ceiling with twinkling stars.
Chefs and pastry cooks at Mottram Hall - which underwent a stunning £6 million refurbishment last year - served traditional afternoon tea: delicate miniature sandwiches were soon demolished by the diners, as were delicate pastries, eclairs and mini sponges piled high on tiered cake stands. Countless pots of tea were served, as well as one or two alcoholic beverages.
Then it was time to cut the birthday cake - a pretty colourful confection created by Evey Cakes.
After a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’, guests drifted back out to the lawns. Some had room for a cooling ice cream and more fizz, others played garden games of croquet, giant chess and giant jenga.
The band struck up tunes which got some guests up on their feet for a dance.
All too soon the sun faded and guests said their farewells...and asked to be remembered when we send out invitations for our 90th birthday celebration!
Pictured top, Archant Life North publisher Rhiannon Wragg, left, cuts the birthday cake along with sales manager Jackie Allen, Editor Louise Allen-Taylor and Marketing and Promotions Manager Kate Wilson
© Archant Ltd 2013